Wednesday, May 09, 2018

One more day

For a very irrational reason, I was angry on my mum for getting cancer and for not getting better. She is not healing. It is very worrisome. I can't do anything to take her pain away and people I am working with are getting way too demanding. I want to breathe slowly and steadily and take each moment as it comes.

I was so angry that I started writing in my diary. I was doing it after really very very long. I was supposed to complete this diary by the end of last year and burn it. But I didn't. I still have lots of pages to write in. Is that how abysmal my life is? That I cannot even fill out a day at a time?

Well, it had started feeling abysmal but I wrote so hard that the scratches on the paper ripped the pages a little. The pressure of my hand imprinted the words on pages some two or three pages below the page I was writing on. My fury burned. I know it sounds dramatic now as I write it. But it really was fury. It burned me up.

Now I am a little calmer. I am a little soothed down.

Tomorrow, my beautiful people, it will be good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

First Impressions: Split by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan


It's close to midnight now. The sun has set and it's a relief. I've had two heavy meals in the day and can feel the bloat turn into something more dense around m midriff. That's nota good thing. Since I like to sip on something when I'm writing, I've opened a bottle of RAW's Aloe Vera lemonade. I had expected it to taste synthetic. But it's actually good. The agave, ginger, and rock salt make it refreshing.

What does any of this have to do with the review of the book? Nothing much. And that is my observation of the book itself. It's well-written but a lot of what is well-written, I think, wasn't necessary.

Anyway, on with my take.

Noor Khan Rai is a 16-17 year old girl whose mum, a Muslim, left her and har father to be with a childhood lover. At school, Noor is part of a chic circle of girls - called the 'Group'. A routine day involved school, hanging out with the girls, coming home and doing homework, a scheduled conference call with the girls, chat with her parents, music, and going off to bed.

This was the routine until her mother left. One day, Noor comes home to find that her grandmother, dad's mother, has moved in to take care of her. The grandmother is critical of Noor's mum and Muslims in general.

Noor is sad, adrift, and not everything is good with the Group. The head of the group, a tall, beautiful, glowing girl called Armaana is getting nastier and bitchier by the day. One of Noor's closest girl-friends, Natasha, is beginning to act distant. Noor now needs to attend a group counselling session after school  for kids of families that have been broken. This session is first called TOD (I forgot the acronym now) and is later called 'Split'.

There are some really moving parts in the story - when Noor gets a letter from her mother, when she sees past the nasty exterior of one of the girls to see how her family may have broken her spirit, the communion she has with her friends. The parts that shine are Noor's engagement with her life and her navigation of he friendships. Where the narrative feels brittle is when the men come in - especially Ishaan, her love interest.

She's a Delhi girl and he's a Bombay boy and let thoughts of cliches not cross your mind. But they do - the Natual ice-cream parlour, the yearning for the sea, etc. etc. That is where I felt a lot of stuff was unnecessary. I wish the story had delved a little more in the psyche of the mother-daughter relationship. What did each one think?

At times, Noor wonders if there were signs that her mother was giving off before she decided to leave. There were huge fights but she couldn't be sure. That's when I felt protective of Noor. Who hasn't retraced the steps to a crisis to see if it could have been avoided? Especially situations where you have been let down by one you love.

But such instances are few. We see a lot of description of Noor's room, her group's parties, the loo stalls of the school, the kinds of lip gloss girls wear, and how deep and measured and totally fictional Noor's boyfriend is. I mean, it's not like men aren't that way but the fact that a 17 year old is that way was a bit much or me.

The book begins with the author's dedication, "To my mum, who stayed." It ends with Noor's character writing to her mother that ater she has fallen in love with Ishaan, she understands why her mother made the decsion she did.

Somewhere, between the first page and the last, I feel it must have been a brave story to write.


Monday, May 07, 2018

Anger

It has a very specific taste - sickly, burnt, bloody, raw and rotten meaty. I am feeling it so sharply now that I feel that my heart will either burst or stop. My eye has started twitching very badly and I am moving my leg very vigorously.

It is so easy to believe that this thing - this very thing that is causing me to breathe shallow and shake my leg dangerously fast, and cram so many biscuits in my mouth - it is easy to believe that this thing will create diseases in the body. It stays on sickly and thick on yoru skin and underneath your skin and there is no way out. It feels like I am in a quicksand.

Anyway, this is it, I suppose. We are done. I will just upload some things and go to bed.

It was not a happy day. At least it ends this way.

Tomorrow will be better.





Sunday, May 06, 2018

First Impressions: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton


I  read the book in the hospital while waiting for the nurse to finish dressing my mother's wounds. I read the book in the stupor between reaching home late at night, finishing an assignment and client call before beginning another stint at work. 

So, I didn't just like the book. I am grateful for it.

Love warrior is the memoir of a woman who describes herself as 'a recovering everything.' She became bulimic when she was ten years old and slowly got addicted to alcohol in her teen years. She would have a lot of casual sex but never enjoyed it. The first time she got pregnant, she had an abortion. The day she had her abortion, she gave permission to her boyfriend to go and party with his friends. He had asked if she was sure. She had said yes. He had left.

The next time she had found out that she was pregnant, she was on the bathroom floor, tired of letting down everyone time and again. She describes the pregnancy test as an invitation to real life. The test was a sign that someone up there had considered her to be worthy of being a mother despite being so messed up. Despite that. And because of that too.

Her boyfriend at the time, Craig, and the father of the child then proposes to her. They marry. She sets up a domestic life - the solid evidence of this wholesomeness is that they bring out fancy salad dowls when guests come over.

Then one day, Craig shares some porn with her. They'd been having sparse sex before that. She watches porn and feels aroused. Then she has sex with him. There's guilt, shame, despise.

She asks him to get it out of the house for good.

Then, during therapy, she finds out that he has been unfaithful to her. She breaks. She protects her three children by asking Craig to move out. She takes up yoga. 

Then one day she comes across a TV show where a couple is deciding to move out of a house they have spent a lot of money on renovations. Turns out that none of the renovations have worked because the house is wired all wrong. Rectifying the wiring would be a long and tedious process. Not to mention hugely expensive. The wife wants to move out and cut losses. The husband tells her that at least now they know what is wrong. They can fix it. They will know for a fact when it is fixed. What's the guarantee that the next house they move into will not have faulty wiring? What if they continue to hang pretty pictures on walls that hide monstrous wiring?

Glennon wonders whether she has faulty wiring herself. She wonders whether she needs to fix it first before moving on? So she decides to stay on in the marriage and explore if there can be some grace to be had within that.

This book is an enquiry into the earlier question. And the book is a solace. For one thing, Glennon can articulate a sense of emptiness with very kind purpose. There is a portion where she is racked with shame. Her parents send her to the church for an intervention. She is scared of the priest. But before that, when she is waiting for the priest to show up, she spends a little time before a picture of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. She feels a kind of acceptance that starts her off on a scary journey of finding peace. (So, when she gets pregnant the second time around, she sees it as a sign of approval by Mother Mary.)

And I was particularly moved by the way she has described her husband's adultery. There is a part where she asks why her own flaws - such as silent resentment, withdrawal from sex, a quiet, persistent rejection of her husband - should not be considered as important as her husband's flaw of using his body to satisfy a need. How is one thing more of a sin than another?

Earlier, I used to wonder why women whould stay with men who strayed. My initial assumption was that women remain in relationships they don't like because they are used to it, they are scared of the future, etc. This book is a nuanced perspective of a different mindset. Sometimes women may choose to stay with a partner who strays because they decide to tackle it with strength. They want to fix their own wiring and understand what it would take to forgive their partner and the situation.

It is moving that the book begins with the wedding day of a very pregnant Doyle. She thinks of the same thing the very first time her husband tells her that he has been unfaithful. That memory fills her with hatred. Finally, it is this very same memory that fills her with tenderness and love - so much so that she finally gets to the point where she forgives her husband.

Like I'd written earlier - when my mum was being operated, when she slept while ate cup noodles, when my father dozed off in hospital chairs because he was tired - I used to keep wondering that this tenuous, fragile life - what's it all about?

To feel, to fail, to forgive - maybe that's what.

So for this, Glennon Doyle Melton, thank you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

one day passes

Mummy underwent a surgery. I am now sleeping in my mother's room and I am missing her a lot. Strangely it is not the big things that undo me - not that my heart is feeling heavy...

just feelin too slow to write.