When was the last time I let pen flow on paper? To flood papyrus with ink? I remember when I was shy in my early twenties, my writing used to flow like poetry and had emotive qualities to them. I wrote from emotions and a truth deep within myself. Emotiveness, however, is a luxury I lost when I entered journalism.

It is a profession that invites – no, instils truth in facts. Poetic license is rare and is far and few between. In the pursuit of truth, I abandoned emotions. My writing became analytical, descriptive – but rarely ever did it strip away one down to naked emotion. To feel pain, love, life, anguish and frustration between letters, words and paragraphs.

My foray into postgraduate studies has only crystalised that further.  To ground theory in evidence, and to write clearly without prejudice nor influence. Authors like Naguib Mahfouz and George Orwell, however, taught me the lesson about truth in fiction. Maybe not the truth of the natural and social world. But the truth about humanity. To acknowledge and immerse oneself in the ocean of emotions. Literature is about speaking truth. Not just to power, but to truth itself.

The last time I had found myself truly enchanted by a piece of literature was Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, three years ago. So immersive was his story, that I emerged from the waters with inexplicable emotions. Fiction is a window through which we can hold a mirror to ourselves. And perhaps for the longest time, I hadn’t allowed myself to look in the mirror.

In the past three years since, I’ve only read a handful of literature or fiction. Non-fiction has crept itself into the forefront. Have I abandoned humanity in search of a positivist enlightenment? Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy is another instance which I remember vividly. I had spent over three months slowly savouring the generational epic of a patriarch in the midst of a national revolution. Never had emotions been written with finesse yet so much impact. What the characters felt, I felt.

Because it spoke to an intrinsic truth only literature and unbounded prose could narrate about human emotions. Even now, as I write, I feel a restraint. A trained instinct for a selection of words, as opposed to a natural flow of the mind. I wish I could write like poetry once more. To let loose all onto the page. If it needs to flood, then so be it.