There is no doubt that the English language is rich. Ooze, capitulate, drudgery, mellow … the list of marvelous words is long. But despite its unparalleled wealth, I do English injustice each time my pen trudges itself onto paper. Instead of bounding letters together with the weave of my ballpoint pen, instead of creating sentences that froth of literary bliss, instead of twisting letters around for the sheer sound-sex of it, my writing makes a mortician’s workplace after a murder scene look clean. Sentences bounce around like electrons, uncertain of their location in a paragraph. Letters collide haphazardly and thoughts are lost in this mayhem. When it comes to the English language, I might as well speak Elvish.
Misery likes company and so, coupled with sentences that are incoherent, unintelligent, and downright stupid, I write with a not-so-slight of hand. In other words, my penmanship is awful, and even that maybe an understatement.
As it turns out, ABC’s aren’t as easy as one, two, three. As I was maturing, I could not form the letter A; the necessary first step in my prolonged literary torture. B’s were beyond my bumbling foolish fingers. C’s… well that’s an entirely different story. Clinical psychologists suggested that my inability to put pen neatly onto paper was a result of my three months prematurity. Weighing two pounds and two ounces, I was forced into the world that wasn’t quite ready for me. With lungs deformed, a heart riddled in holes, and a brain mass unformed, I came into the world more similar to an amoebae rather than a human. I believe that my penmanship was lost somewhere in between the tubes of blood, the doctor’s diagnosis, and the incessant worries of my parents. “Can he write” was substituted with “is he alright”. “Learn your alphabet” was less important than “take your medication”. In a world where one’s reality is human fragility, I never was able to develop proper literacy skills. Where they have gone, only the part of my brain that was unable to fully develop will know.
On the other hand, my inability to write fluidly like lords of the literary language is perhaps because I was raised in a house where words were saved. As immigrants, my parents struggled to learn English, and consequently butchered it the very same way I do. But, I do not believe that it was my parent’s lack of English that caused my inability to write beautifully flowing sentences. Instead, love was. Rather than words, my parents cradled me, expressing everything that is needed to be said with a touch of a finger on a bony elbow, or with a kiss on the back of the neck, or with an indecipherable gurgle in the navel of my ear. Love, not words, was all I needed to hear.
This is not to say I was spoiled; I was only rich in love. For without cash income, love is all one can cherish. So instead of capturing reality in a moment, freeze framing it in the prison of words, I lived my life. Fantasies held no place in my reality; there was no time. In between helping around the home and through my sicknesses, I had little time to narrate life. Each moment I had free, I lived. I breathed. I remembered to inhale, to hold onto my family, to repay the unconditional love one day, to wish that life would provide freedom and wealth and happiness… But that never happened. Time ticked onward, sicknesses worsened, reality kicked my ass, and words cannot describe the earlier years of my life. Or at least, I know of none.
So you may ask, “Why do I continue to write, even though it usually results in a few of my reader’s suicides on a good day?” Well believe it or not, everyone dies. All humans will turn cold, keel over, and breathe no more; it’s only a matter of time. When humans recognize this, when they realize they are mortal, that any moment may be their last, that they will never be as intelligent, as beautiful, as funny as they are now, that life is but a whisper in the wind, then they will write. For the written word is a way to survive death; words are an everlasting chorus in the music of life. That cliché stands as evidence. For the only evidence of a writer is writing itself.
Converting synapses and neural responses into an idea, writers attempt to etch their own legacy. They force themselves to siphon the creative rocket-fuel at ungodly hours for history to recognize them. They drink coffee after coffee, inhale cigarette after cigarette, and guzzle beer after beer to pin down the right sentence that will chalk themselves onto the list of literary paragons. Unlike the ancient man who could build a pyramid of stone to be remembered, modern man must do so with words.
And like the pharaohs who built their pyramid aligned with the stars, I too wish to see my name remembered. But I know this will not be so. At the time of my death, I will be a squat, white-hair old man, with a short neck, a barrel chest, thick forearms, and a faded tattoo from one of the countless mistakes I have made. My legs will be thin and veined; my right knee, a testament to a life of mediocre work for mediocre pay, will be ruined by arthritis. My face will be broad and craggy from the sun, with rustic whiskers and a lower jaw that protrudes slightly, making me look more like a dolphin than a human. My daily attire will suggest the prestige of a working man, and a working man I’ll be. The essays that once burdened me long ago will have faded in the dust. Words that I had written down so ineptly will have collected into a bin somewhere, rotting off the pages that once held them. And when I die, no one will remember Kacper Edward Niburski, but at least, no one will forget.
So, to answer the question why I write, even when I do so poorly, it is because for me, it boils down the restriction of choices in my reality. Either I die trying in vain, or I die regretting my existence. But for me, regret is a waste of time. This is why on my epitaph, something all writers, good and bad, care so much about, I want it to be written:
Here lies Kacper Niburski
Began dying March 20 1992