Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Here we have J.D. Salinger's Seymour Glass writing to his brother Buddy Glass, from “Seymour – an Introduction” .
“When was writing ever your profession? It's never been anything but your religion. Never. I'm a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won't be asked. You won't be asked if you were working on a wonderful, moving piece of writing when you died. You won't be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won't be asked if you were in good or bad form while you were working on it. You won't even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished – I think only poor Søren K will get asked that. I'm so sure you'll get asked only two questions. Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out? If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you'd remember before ever you sit down to write that you've been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart's choice. The next step is terrible, but no simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won't even underline that. It's too important to be underlined. Oh, dare to do it, Buddy! Trust your heart. You're a deserving craftsman. It would never betray you.”
When I started reading Lessons in Forgetting, I was not immediately impressed, particularly by the Page Three setting of the opening chapter, but after I had, in my usual fashion, charged through the book at top speed to know what happened next, I was compelled to re-read it several times.
I often wonder how much of your response to a book or a film or a play or a painting is determined by your state of mind and the recent experiences that you bring to it. So much of what Anita Nair has written resonates because of recent life experiences. When the caregivers find that their patient has developed a bedsore, they are deeply upset.
One of them, Kala Chithi, wonders how she can explain "the weight of guilt a bedsore can burden one with?"
"You feel helpless, knowing that there is nothing more you can do.You feel weary with all that is expected of you. You feel hopeless, knowing that nothing will change. You feel trapped in another person's misery while your life is put on standstill. You feel resentful, angry. You feel grief, you feel confused. There isn't enough space in one's brain to hold all this and not explode. She was my mother. Her life came before mine. So you tell yourself that this too is part of the cycle of life. That samsara consists of both joys and sorrows, of bedsores, too, perhaps."
Reading this moved me to tears. It also felt wonderful to know that I was not alone in the confusion of emotions that seems to have become a part of me in recent months.
Such insights apart, the stories , the characters and their linkages are compelling. The continuing impact of childhood betrayals, as well as the sensitivity, kindness and cruelty of the young are all portrayed beautifully. My unfamiliarity with the mythology of Zeus and Hera made the references rather esoteric. I wonder if the names of the characters Meera, Giridhar and Krishnamurthy are deliberate, in the context of Meera's devotion to her lord.
The volume I have with me right now is from my library. I may just go and buy my own!For me, this book is a keeper.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Probably taken in Delhi in the early fifties.
Early nineties, at home in Delhi.
Early eighties, in my sister's kitchen in Mumbai. My parents were there for her second delivery.
Late fifties or early sixties, probably at Kew Gardens in London.