The pain caught me unawares when I was eight weeks pregnant.
When I look back now I think I can tell with pretty accurate precision the exact moment that little thing which was not yet a foetus tore its way through my left fallopian tube. It didn't live to tell its own story. Hence it falls to me to narrate the journey of that soul that never was, and how she--I just know it would have been a she--changed my path.
I call this my near life experience. For it was in almost giving birth to a new life that I stumbled across the courage to really live my own.
I remember clearly the first line of poetry I wrote. "The leaves swayed in the breeze like a ship on the high seas." I was five and quite inspired by the kairee (mango) tree outside our balcony. It's a very distinct memory. I knew then I would write. A lot.
It took many, many years; a few lifetimes; many reinventions to actually give some shape to what my five-year-old self had seen.
Emerging from the haze of morphine at the hospital--thank god for drugs--I switched off my cell phone and went offline for a month.
A full four weeks.
A first and never since.
In the silence that followed, I looked into the eyes of my husband and saw real fear: he didn't want to lose me.
I didn't want to die either. Not yet.
And yet I could have. And I would never have written all that was in my head, that which I saw so clearly.
In my weakened state-of-mind, I clearly saw the many generations of thwarted writers in my family, shake their heads sadly at me. They had thrown down the gauntlet.
Was I going to do it? End this pathetic, self-pity filled saga stretching across time?
Perhaps it was being put deep under by the anaesthesia, for I am told it really is a little like dying. Well the closest one comes to dying without actually... dying; when you are sedated enough for them to cut into you. Maybe it was that which dropped me deep into myself, enough to touch the stuff that really mattered. The debris hidden behind decades of conditioning shot to the top.
So, when I switched on my cell-phone and plugged back into the real word, I knew what I had to do. Write those damn books.