Posts

Potential

I want to talk to you, but for some reason, I no longer can. There’s something weary and tired about us. Something wounded. It makes me cling to you, and I can see it’s trying your patience. There are things unsaid now, things guarded. Self-care has created its defense, and we’re working hard to ignore it. I’m broken, and you know that. You’re scared I may think that the reason is us. But I think the true fear is in that I may be right. Because we start again from page one.

Can we not just try with each other once more, though? We already know so much. We’ve come so far with learning who the other person is. All for it to end in goodbyes. Our hellos had so much potential. To accept that maybe we have exhausted that potential. Maybe it never existed. 

Advertisement

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust Trilogy)

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In this last year, I have been turning back to the genre of fantasy, one of the few genres that lets me truly escape this world. It is true, however, that in fantasy, very few books can go on to completely encompass you in its world. While I found Philip Pullman later than most people – in my mid-twenties – his is one such world. I read His Dark Materials a couple of years ago and absolutely fell in love with the story. It has complex villains, lots of greys where you aren’t sure which side you are on, a compelling and flawed protagonist, and a setting that is so otherworldly and also quite plausible in the larger scheme of things. So, of course, when I got my hands on La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust trilogy), I was excited. This book is set in the same world, so it had to be good.

To cut to the chase – it was. The book gave me what I was looking for, a nostalgic visit to Lyra’s world. But it is also very different from His Dark Materials in terms of storytelling and even setting. While we hardly see much of Jordan (the college where Lyra grew up), we are still pulled in by the picturesque and domestic life that Malcolm, our protagonist, leads in Lyra’s Oxford.

Pullman sticks to the idea of having two main characters as the story progresses, and he does it beautifully here as well. Both the characters (not naming them for those who are yet to read the book) are again quite a contrast and have enough depth to make it quite easy on the reader’s imagination. The setting, while monotonous in comparison to the earlier trilogy, does justice to the story he is trying to tell. It is not a vast adventure of worlds here, but an incident in a young boy’s life. To that, it is pleasing to read. From instances of Malcolm’s carpentry (which is quite satisfying to me as a reader) to obstacles that they face later, it is the small details that make this story what it is. There is also the subtle hint of a mystery (Malcolm’s headaches) that make me intrigued enough to pick up the second part of this trilogy. Of course, Lyra being a part of that story is a great pull for those of us who have read His Dark Materials.

To sum up, whether or not you have read the previous trilogy, La Belle Sauvage is a great find. I do however recommend that you read His Dark Materials before picking up The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust Part 2) – if only for the pleasure of Pullman’s master storytelling.



View all my reviews

Hippie – A Review

This books seems to be finding itself just as much as the protagonist. It starts off with some promise to a story but until halfway through the book all we find are declarations and a very slow character development. While it is interesting to learn more about the author (Paulo Coelho), and despite being an autobiography of sorts, I did not feel as connected to this book as a reader the way I have to his other work (for instance, The Zahir). The crux of the story comes to light during one scene which is an interview between the french father, Jacques and a journalist who wants to know more about the ‘hippie’ culture. I think what Paulo intended to say for this matter, he did so most truly in that one chapter. I read another review that describes this book as flat, and honestly I think that’s the best way to put it. I finished it because I couldn’t not finish a book, but was it worth the read? Eh…while it’s not entirely bad, one could give it a pass.

Em and the big Hoom – A Review

When you notice the ebb and flow of your own thoughts, you realise that they are a constant tumble of ideas and observations that are shoving for space to stay that one moment longer in your head before you are distracted by the next thought. In the space of your mind, you are unafraid of judgment or repercussions. On some days, you may even allow yourself to wade into the darker corners of your head, thinking of scenarios that would otherwise horrify you with their atrocious nature.

Jerry Pinto captures the casual tone of our minds and puts that voice on paper, showing us the truest version of a middle-class family in Mumbai, with no filter or even judgment on the good and bad. Things just are. He discusses topics like a famous sweet shop at the corner and the killing of one’s mother in the same tone. It is almost like the writing is unable to shy away from the underbelly of the protagonist’s life, quite like when we cannot always push away the thoughts that we “shouldn’t” be having.

Thus, the story is both intimate and funny, dark and sometimes as nonchalant as the four of them sitting around with nothing much going on. The language flows so easily, the writing seeming effortless even in its most significant or chaotic moments. This book is an act of such vulnerability that it was impossible for me not to be there, completely transported into the smoke-filled one-bedroom apartment listening to fragments of a story over the lifetime of the storyteller.

If there were any criticism that I had to afford, it would be with the characters on the sidelines. I would love to know more about Susan and Mae, and maybe even a little more about the mystery that was the Big Hoom. Overall, this is a book that I read in a matter of a few sittings and it was one that stuck with me long enough to avoid picking up a different book just to be able to mull this over a little longer.

Inverted Guilt: My Pandemic Revelation

Ever since I was a child, I have dwelt more in the world of fiction than in the one before me. During the times that I do emerge, I feel restless. It is as though the definitions of real-life confuse me. As a reader, I am supposed to have read certain types of books, acquired and retained knowledge that I may have actually forgotten. I am either supposed to have a rebellious edge or compliant contentment. My opinions have to be strong and stubborn or they are deemed complacent or lacking. 

Where is the room to be human? For confusion or not knowing? 

“So you have read all the Potter books, did you like them? Oh, a fan then! So you must remember every dialogue and plot twist that took place in that world? Oh…so you didn’t like it then…” 

“Do you like rock music?”  “Huh! Just the one song? That doesn’t count then, really.” 

“What about politics then? Surely, you aren’t truly literate if you don’t understand, or at the very least, offer your fierce opinions on the matter! Of course, joining protests give you additional gold stars, especially when it helps cancel out that thickly buttered privilege of yours.”

It is this need for definitive characters, to convert our self-image into a brand that both inspires and defines success with aesthetic ease, that fuel today’s social media, and blurs into our everyday lives. This practice of ‘brand aesthetics’ is what nurtures our innate guilt for being alive. For we all have a store of ‘original guilt’ within us, stemming from our knowledge of the damage caused by our mere existence. More and more has this feeling become a collective thought, leading to a collective restlessness (In 2018, U.K launched more vegan products than any nation). We try to alleviate this by doing conscious good, trying not to do harm, or merely by shrouding ourselves in denial. Since none of that works, we then turn to channel this guilt into other rivers of thought. Thus spring the thoughts of productivity, accomplishments, success, and of building a brand aesthetic that fits within the image of a two-dimension character.   

The more we compress, the more we spill. The idea of finding oneself, or detangling ourselves from our social media account is then our attempt to detach from that brand aesthetic and revisit the artist that created it in the first place. Understand the guilt and know of its truth and origin. Equal and opposite reactions are law, and with guilt, the law dictates hope. 

As of this evening, I am both confused and in the unknown. The world around me mimics the novels I read, the dystopia feeling all too real. Thus stripped off our normalcy, the feeling of guilt is bare of its various diversions. Guilt is no longer focusing on my body fat, work ethics, lifestyle choices, relationship worries, or unacceptable personality traits.

Having always mourned the loss of our universe at our hands, we are now grieving our personal loss while our planet heals. Even as we grieve, we find the beauty in the little things, in the experience that is life. Because for once, we are not the ones doing the damage.  

It is at this paradox that our guilt inverts to meet hope. 

And despite the oddity, this makes sense to me.

Rest in Peace

is — was.

The first and toughest

change you can’t avoid.

Is

Is

Is


Was.








Waves of emotion

Tumbling, stumbling, stalling. 

Halt and rewind

Or tear a hole in time

To revive what’s rightfully yours

No one else’s.

Not the trees 

Not the rivers

Where go dust to dust 

And ashes to ashes.

What about the memories?

Now sheathed by the

Fierce quills of a porcupine’s coat

Memories with no one 

To say, “That’s not how it happened!”

Memories that are

Rightfully yours

Only yours. 

As you remember how it once 

Was.  

The Memories of Yesterday

Flashes and then some light
I see a lamp
I see a shard
the hint of a beard
A new face of yours.
And I look back to wonder
At our times
When we were us
And the love it had 
And the memories of our fights.
We grew it all out,
A stage of love puberty,
To find our own ways.
I found the paths you didn’t take
And there ventured hence,
I found your breaks
The ones you never got
And some that I never gave
I wonder what I would say to you
Did we ever meet
Maybe I would want to smile
Maybe we would still just hate
I don’t know for sure
Whether to ask for or to give
Forgiveness that has been long due.
So I shall wait for the day
When we bump into a moment
Of ours again
To find out what it contains
Hoping to be done away
And put it all in a box so pretty;
the memories of yesterday.

A Prisoner to Time

I look for a bottle, a small one.

After a lot of thought and quite some searching,

a pretty glass jar with a cork was found.

Tiny enough to fit in the palm of my hand, unseen

Delicate and strong, or fragile and young,

it depends on how you see it, really.

I go to the cabinet now – holding the secrets of life

in small tiny pills, some colourful and some white.

With all my raw materials, I shall now sit,

creating a potpourri of pills.

I soon hold the jar, transformed and full

Each tablet is unique and with purpose.

And as I finish my project, I’m calm, finally calm,

my anxieties kept busy and distracted.

It’s so easy to trick the human mind

into believing a future (the irony),

with our present actions.

I close my eyes and savour

The blank emptiness that could be mine

Before I get up and walk away,

Stepping on glass, still a prisoner to time.  

-the positivity of black

Body Memory

I fight through the amnesia, 

my body trying to remember 

the touch of passion on its skin

that would spread a flame, lightning fast.

Fast…

Fast.

Fast.

It reminds me of rough.

Fast and rough, 

So familiar a tone from the past,

Almost like a favourite song that I forgot.

The kind that you listen to so often,

you almost hate it now.

And yet, that soft corner;

I hum along.

Scars last longer than hickeys, after all.

Fists clenched, 

Halfway between a roar and a sigh,

I fall back once again.

Unable to remember what it feels like 

to make love tender.

Out of grasp, it’s a crumbling memory

with my hands only drawing blood. 

-the positivity of black

A Pinch of Courage & A Shard of Reality

His collar was upturned at the corner, and he turned towards the sunrise over the shadows of buildings and forgotten grounds seen from the balcony, the smoke escaping through his slightly open mouth. His hair looked like he got out of bed, goofy, though, not Mills and Boons style or anything.

As he spoke about how the scars of our society crumble every shade of utopian idea of humanity, I flew. We spoke one language – the stories of dreamers and maybe naive beliefs of the ‘humane’ side of our nature. Even knowing that the situation may indeed be hopelessly bigger than us – we stuck on. Mainly also because we were high. Yeah, that could be it. It didn’t matter. What people thought didn’t matter. If I got branded, it didn’t matter. Weed gave me hope. It gave me hope for life. For something bigger than my own life and more about the meaning of the large-sized word ‘life.’

It also made me forget the world, though, which was peaceful. More peaceful than anything my normal self would allow. I am not a calm person. I am never calm; always nervous, fidgety, and worrying too much about things that everyone says matter and also don’t matter. I am a tired person who doesn’t get past her own self-critical doubts to address others. I am someone who is badly bruised and only wishes to lick her wounds with love for the rest of her life. So basically, I am a little insignificant in terms of the world.

When I am high, though, I find that love that I need to heal, and I find it within myself. It is that rare moment when my self-love is enough to boost my pride and confidence. I am solid. I exist, and I take my irreplaceable place in this world. All of this is because, for a few hours, my mind is quiet. Not empty, but quiet. And the peace is like a river, bringing with it all that positivity that I keep blocked out like a dam. Of course, this is always mixed in with a tinge of detachment. It wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

That detachment is opaque, floating in and out. I watch the love scenes from Vampire Diaries – the intensity we dreamed of as starry-eyed 16-year-olds. I see a friend talking about her love with confidence, and even more enchanting are her stories of lust – of equal balance between the two – and I wonder. I see my own sister, living my starry-eyed dream – the same age I used to be. And those moments pierce through my cover. They pinch like a reminder to wake me up from my dream and understand that such love may always be a fantasy for me. Because love involves two people, and it seems so does dreaming.

I turn to him, still talking to me while I had apparently nodded at the appropriate times, and I smile. This boy I could dream with occasionally when I needed a dose. Before I go back to the love of my life – carrying the hope that someday things will be different. We will find that bruise and look it in the eye – with the courage to face it together.

-the positivity of black