I grew up with a language in which "pssst" is enough to call someone's attention and pointing at something with pouted lips is enough a direction and in a culture where children can perceive the reprimand of staring eyes, women can say a lot with their silence, and men can express their anger through sulking. My world before was that of silence and minimalism. Now that I live in the West, where noise and chaos are the norms, my world is of confusion, dilemma, and crisis. It shows in my writings.
The Uses of Preposition "on" and "in"
Among native English speakers, it is easy for them to pick one. I assume it is due to habitual usage or generational learning. For me, I have to think hard and long. It's not that I am not confident with my grammar. The preposition "on" is just a two-letter word, but my understanding and use of it in my writings speaks a lot.
"Weeds grow in the birds' droppings."
The preposition used in the example adheres to the existing grammatical rule, but it does not represent my feelings and thoughts. I used "in" to be passive to grammar-conscious traditionalists because I wanted the image to be seen more than the form in my works.
Yes, I'm a maker of images who uses words or a textual painter, to be exact. All art forms convey beauty, and beauty is an image. Even listening to Bach is putting ourselves in his world that we imagine to be beautiful.
Going back to that pesky preposition, "in", to me, suggests stability, root, strength. There's no way weeds can survive in the birds' droppings. I initially used "on" to imply that the weeds' existence was superficial and fleeting as "on" denotes or connotes surface.
There are languages whose words and meanings have different depths and surfaces. One of those is my native language. We don't eat rice; we cook them. Before rice becomes what it is, it is a grain first. When we grind the rice, it becomes a different thing with a different term with a different function.
The Essence of "The"
One of the things I'm fearful of is to wake up one day and find out that everyone feels and thinks the same and everything looks and sounds alike. I very much agree to the bathroom graffiti I once read:
"You laugh at me because I'm different, but I laugh at you because you're all the same."
You can change "laugh" with "fear" since obnoxious arrogance is not a nature of my bone.
"I hide beside the stairs
Where weeds grow
in the birds' droppings."
The article "the", at least in my writings, avoids sameness and generalities. In the example above, I decided to use "the" because weeds growing in droppings pooped by any or all kinds of birds was not my idea. I wanted to write about the birds that frequented the abandoned stairs and left their reminders that they came to visit again. Yes, it is too long a hidden text for an article. Also, I did not use "the" before "weeds," because the latter were insignificant. I did not have a story to tell about weeds. As a matter of fact, I don't know about them, nor do I excitedly expect them to grow. They scare me. Weeds are all the same- they are not flowers.
This is not a justification but a wondering of a writer who asks: which is inadequate, the syntax, grammar, and rules of the West or myself who finds it hard to free herself from her roots?