Every time I read Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Prize citation lecture, ‘My Father’s Suitcase’, I am transported to a day I can’t now fully recall. Every growing child has that day, when, shielded from the vicissitudes of reality, he wants to become a painter, a musician, a writer, something he knows bridges the gap between what he wants to do and what he thinks will sate his parents’ hopes.
Even though I can’t remember all about that day, I’m sure I thought I wanted to be a writer. I would have wanted to write all that I read, but in a way that it preserved me. I would have wanted to write to partake of the only tradition I knew – literature – so I wouldn’t be forgotten. At every turn, I would despair that I was going farther from my dream growing older, but I would still attempt to reach out to that tradition.
I think… what has kept me going is that every time I reached out, it would reach into me, and remind me that I would only have to divert my gaze inward, to bring forth an imagined reality that would help me survive this one. And all this Orhan speaks of. His insight is inescapable, I must admit; yet, I don’t regret that I borrow from him without striving – with that stubbornness Orhan finds is central to being a writer – to find my own words.
I am not yet a writer, but I still hope to be one. And when that day comes, I hope I find the tradition is still alive in me.