There was once a girl who liked to make pictures. With a solemn wrinkle on the bridge of her nose she would work, sprawled on someone's floor, huddled behind a staircase, her breath misting up a bathroom window, spiralling out her masterpieces by the dozen in ink, wax, runny paint. Craggy mountains and chalkdust roses she could conjure out of nowhere, foaming oceans and mysterious faces that never looked alike. You could have seen the universe swirling behind her eyes.
The girl grew up, though she did not know it. And then one day, her attention flickered from the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Bear to the printed black marks on the adjoining page.
What was that, she wanted to know.
Words, they said.
Words. So straight upon the shiny paper. Unbending, they did not seem to notice her at all.
Words. She did not want to believe them. Words could not look so ugly! But she learned, as they all must. She learned to understand the words, and decided that she wanted to read a book. And then another. And another, and another again. The pictures still came to her and now they were clearer and vivider than ever. She wanted to try her own hand at making this new kind of picture. And so she did.
Now she draws landscapes and people, laughter and miracles. A spectrum huger and brighter than anything her crayons could ever have made opens up at the touch of her pen. All contained in the narrow blackness of an ink track. Pages and pages she filled, journal after journal as the years slip by. She begins to love the familiarity of her handwriting, love the clean white paper that waits to receive her alchemy. And they say she is a Writer. Headstrong young spinner of dreams. Girl of many visions. A natural.
The thick sheets of her old khata are turning sadly yellow. The crayons, with such delicious names as Vermilion and Aquamarine, have rolled unconcernedly into the nooks and crannies of a busy teenager's bedroom, their labels peeling off like withered skin. The little cakes of paint have disintegrated into mounds of powder, colourful poisons lining the inside of her trash drawer. When she is told to clean up her room she finds them, glances through the stack of drawing pads. She finds the crooked blue rivers and reckless horizons, the gracefully curved waves under a happy clouded sky. And so she tried again. But the drawing pencil lay in her hand like a piece of dead wood. The blankness of the paper was frightening. Then the not-so-little girl packed up the unwanted fragments, locked them away, and lost the key.
She is contented, of course. Budding natural. The pictures never left her, only now they insist on showing themselves as funny black marks on lined paper. Sometimes, when her fountain pen is idle, she catches a glimpse of a young maestro, busy behind the stairwell with a 4B pencil. And she wonders how she can miss so terribly that which she does not remember.