Words without brakes

It is surprising how reading a book inspires one to write. A fountain that was dried up seems to want to send out water again. A tap that ran dry seems to be waiting to be opened up and let flow. Poetry seems to be flowing out. Can there be magic in a pen and can magic transfer from one writer to another ? It would seem so.

When I post, usually I read and re-read and sometimes trash my posts because they have been written over days and the day I am ready to publish, the post does not resonate with my inner muse anymore. Time has changed my outlook on the same issue even though much time has not gone by. Even seconds can change one’s way of looking at the same thing. Writing a post for me is like capturing a moment on a photographic plate, slicing through my life at that point in time. In epidemiology, cross sectional studies are defined as those studies that report events as they are at a particular point of time- such are my usual blog posts. A few days later, the same post does not seem right enough as it did the day it was conceived. Am I driveling ? Perhaps I am. But I continue to write in order not to stop the flow of that muse that has seen drier days and lonelier nights.

The book I picked up at the airport on my way back is my inspiration. ” Second Thoughts” by Navtej Sarna. It is a book which should be a reader’s dream book. A book that speaks of the writer’s travels through the circumstances and sometimes the places where the writers of his choice once lived or wrote. Imagine having the freedom to go to places or sit on site at tables or in rooms where writers once wrote and imagine the thoughts that went into those writer’s minds as they wrote. Writing should be the most honest of crafts for if written as words are born in the mind, it should be a thread that connects the soul of the writer with the soul of the reader. When I began posting I was such a writer. Over years, a veil seems to have clouded my writing, I seem to go back and read over my words and decide certain words must go or some thought removed( often to not offend) and then the post becomes presentable. In the process it becomes far removed from what it should have been. I see now, that my posts in recent days have been dishonest.

I am inspired to look in my library for many of the books written about in ” Second Thoughts”. The book describes the book ” Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote,which probably will be the first book I will be looking for. And another book- Landour Days by Ruskin Bond, which I might have read before but am inspired to read again. Seems like Landour Days is like a collection of Bond’s ” Morning Pages”, if such can be, a rambling through his days in Landour, a hill station in the Himalayas. The words the book quotes from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” are the ones that have inspired me to look for the original –

“Never love a wild thing. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get.Until they are strong enough to run into the woods.Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you will end up— If you let yourself love a wild thing. You will end up looking at the sky.”

As a mother who is probably going to lose her treasure to another, these words seem prophetic to me. Is that funny ? Is there even a comparison between a wild thing and a child ? Giving your heart to another living thing until one day that living thing leaves you and you are left looking at emptiness. If what remained was the blue sky, I would take it. If what remained was memories of good times together, I probably don’t want it. Does that mean one should not love to not be left holding the kite strings, once the kite has broken free ? When did I become a mother like this ? When did I change ?

Where do my rambling thoughts take me ? Mothers are funny creatures. They love and love and love, until surprisingly one day, the love seems to be a chain, a burden, a heavy weighted vest, which has to be cast off.

My inner censor

I am reading ” It’s never too late to begin again” by Julia Cameron recommended by a blogger whose writing I love so much- Molly Stevens.

I have had at least 3 blog posts started but not completed. I have carted all my yarn to my office, so I can keep my fingers busy and not stress over what might have been ( readers will know what I mean). In many unknown ways, my not going to do my Master’s has affected me- the first being my weight gain of over 10 kilos( 22 pounds) and my don’t care less attitude. There have been other stresses all of my own creation and nothing seems to count any more. I don’t have that positive attitude I used to have before that said I can do anything. Everything I try an inner censor comes and says – Oh, what’s the point ?”

Julia says that during work, there have always been colleagues who were critical of our work but as we near retirement, there is another stronger critic, our inner censor. In the chapter two, she says, when we say

” I’d love to design clothes” 

Censor says ” You can’t -you are too old to learn fashion design.

“I’d really love to design clothes”

Censor ” You are not fashionable. 

I’d really like to try, says you. 

Censor : ” What a terrible waste of money”.

” I can afford it”

Censor : You really are a fool

From Julia Cameron’s ” Its never too late to begin again”.

I have an inner censor too. The conversations in my head go on like this :

“I really want to study further, become somebody, make a few publications, become famous. I want to be able to go to my college reunions or school reunions as “somebody”.

Censor : You can’t do it. See what happened last time- you tried to get the visa and the visa woman rejected you. You had all the documents, the money everything in place, but she rejected you. You can’t do anything right. 

” I think I should try again. After all, they are holding my admission for me. Or I should apply to Harvard this time. If someone wants something strongly, the whole universe conspires to give him that said somebody famous. So I should try again.

Censor: No point trying. Even God is not in support of this venture. Your husband will be alone when you go.

” I’ll try to go for the summer course and come back after the summer”.

Censor: Even that won’t work. Just watch how you bungle even such a small thing up.

This weekend, I picked this book up again. I didn’t complete the first reading, though the book has been with me for ages, ever since the library bought it for me. Even reading a book has become a chore these days. If you ask me, am I depressed? Not outright but inside there is a deep, gnawing hurt that doesn’t seem to be going away. I pretend everything is ok and the tears don’t fall anymore but it is there.

Julia tells us to “shrink one’s censor”- describe it, how old is it, what does it look like, what are some of its favorite remarks, or even sketch it. Julia recommends that we name our Censor and this way, we can have conversations with a real named person and make a joke of it, if you will. 

I like this strategy. Over the weekend, an old senior plagued my dreams- her stinker and the way she bullied people around our hostel as Hygiene Secretary came back to me. I decided to name my censor ” Banani” and it is an apt name for my censor is not one- there seems to be a multitude of them, a veritable forest. “Banani” means forests. 

From the book :

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced”. -VINCENT VAN GOGH

What are things I cannot do ?or says Banani?

Banani says : 

” You cannot crochet again. Your left thenar area hurts so much.

” You cannot lose weight. You cannot control your appetite, even gluttony.”

” You daughters will not get married.”

” You will never return to your home country”.


Day 25- June 8- writing identity

A weekend day. Light work. Hot as an oven. Hubby planned to go out to the shops in the morning but came back with wings on his feet. I am laughing to think of hubby as an angel- an angel with feet wings.

Lunch was leftovers heated up. Breakfast was the usual fare- rice and lentil pancakes with lentil curry. Seem to have a severe protein deficiency. So consuming hemp powder by the spoonful.

Going out now when the call for prayer goes out- this is a good time to be out- the traffic is in control and the roads are relatively empty. The days get longer and longer. No emails from college so far- no news is probably good news.

Hubby is worried about getting a job in the home country. Sometimes opportunities come and we don’t see them as opportunities but as obstacles when in fact they are disguised opportunities. The human mind is so idiotic – sometimes it takes decisions like letting sleeping dogs lie, liking the status quo when a good shake up of the status quo is just what we need. The status quo is good for the present but not good in the long term. Change is the order of the universe.

Write, write, write says Natalie Goldberg, the author who I am reading now. Write bookfuls of junk out of which junk will come up a lotus plant, tall and beautiful- that spreads its fragrance about it. Writing keeps us honest and honesty needs to come out of good writing. Often I write and then I edit because I think of how the writing might impact someone who reads it. What I have edited out is what I truly am.

The pursuit of who I truly am is my connection to the creator, God and my deeper self. Writing gives me the path to identify who I am, without any pretences. I hope to reach that inner space of honesty, the true me.

On a quest- little known books of the famous

I was one of those readers who used to read books recommended by others. Sometimes I selected books if I had read other books of an author before. Often times it was what I had heard about a book that led me to look for it and read it.

I have been bored with the choices of books I have in recent days. The books I have been reading are hardly worth even one read. I have been exasperated with some writers. I have wanted to shake a few.

I wished there were modern authors like my favorites- M M Kaye, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery. Ones whose stories we could read and read again and wonder what happened to its characters long after the book was put down. These are books I have collected. I must have read “How green was my valley” at least 25 times- or ” The Far Pavilions” fifty. Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s boys and all the rest of those have been stories I have stored in the recesses of my brain, though I have not copies of those books now. Sometimes I long for the ” good old days”.

Recently one blogger, whose writing I love – therabbitpatchdiary.com – wrote of other books of Louisa May Alcott – Under the lilacs. I had never heard of this title before.

Thus started my quest. I work in a university with a very large collection of books- mostly digital versions but some hard copies too. I looked through Amazon and Good reads and looked for other titles written by Alcott and found quite a few. I soon found ” Eight Cousins”, ” Rose in Bloom”, Behind the mask and ” An old fashioned girl”. All delicious, scrumptious books. The writing magnificent, and the stories though time tested, told in a different way. I have with me a copy of ” Jack and Jill”, which is locked up in my draw to read when everything is quiet for I do my best reading then.

Then I looked for other titles by M. M. Kaye- to be honest, I had read a few already- Shadow of the Moon being one of them. There was no harm in procuring a copy through my library, which was so happy to have one reading asking for its little- borrowed titles. This quest let me to another period novel – The Zemindar, which spoke of the ” First Mutiny of Indian independence” like all the other titles did. Reading them was a week’s work for me. When I read books I like, really like, I find I take time and am not a fast reader any more.

Finally I am now on to the L. M. Montgomery books- I just read ” A tangled web” yesterday and now have started on ” Emily’s quest”.

I am grateful to have access to a library that allows me to read and enjoy books at my will and at little or no cost.

Have you looked for the entire collection of books written by an author ? Do you find differences in the writing between books or is there a commonness you find among books written by one author ?

On my 25th wedding anniversary, there could be no better post by me than one on books and hence this one.

 

Examinations

March and April are months which signal end of school terms in many schools- sometimes these are extended well into June. Can you imagine such a long study period ?

My younger daughter is in the last throes of her school life. School exams and projects fill her day.

As her mother, the exam fever affects me too. I am in my second school life period now.

Daughter and I, we sit together poring over wave theories, relativity, ray optics, semi conductors- the whole works. We devour books and stories which we probably would never have read, had we the choice. We read Silas Marner and the Invisible Man ( H G Wells) this term. I am not sure if any of you has read the Invisible Man, but it is a difficult book to comprehend . For that matter, many of Wells’ stories are.

Next week we will be doing Math- when calculus and probability will rule the day and further down next week, we will be exploring the nuances of the IAPUC system in high school chemistry.

It would be good if mothers had all the answers- this has been a time, when I wished God had equipped us with all the answers. I have wished I could provide explanations, for questions which suddenly seem to have struck my daughter, a week before her exams. I have wanted to ask her why these questions did not strike her during the school year and why she stored them till the end. Where will I get her the answers from ?

I do my best- reading her wholly inadequate text books, net searching, digging into books borrowed from my university library.

Do I wish I had enrolled her with a private tutor to supplement her school lessons ? That I do not- she would simply not have had time to cope with her lessons and the time required for a tutor.

Going back to the grind now. Wish me luck !

Catching up

This last week has been a busy one- we had a proposal deadline to meet and the review process took days off our schedule. We even worked last weekend.

One of my blog friends called me from her Tour of the Holy Land. It was the highlight of my day, the first time she called. I never expected her to call me, when she was traveling. I never even knew she was traveling, though I had been wondering why she had been absent from the blog world for a time – then, I knew. I am hoping to read her memoirs here.

Another blog friend Debbie, released her book and that is one wonderful news I want to share. Congratulations, Debbie.

We got all the proposals in today. I have not been at my desk at work for the past two days.  I was attending a PRIM& R training for research ethics. In spite of the difficult work schedule, my very kind supervisor spared me from work. I got to meet people from my old work place, those I had been not wanting to meet so much too. We did some catching up.

Three and a half years is not a short time. Much has changed. Though water has flown down the bridge, it was not much. Time seems to have stood still over my old department. Many of the colleagues who were with me are no longer there. It used to give me pleasure to watch how retribution caught up one after the other of my colleagues, that gave me plenty of trouble days while I worked there. Today I found out that I did not really care anymore. I moved out of that workplace so they could have a free run of the place and do it free of any hindrance. But it seems that too much of a good thing was not so good. I tried to forgive them and prayed for them for sometime , especially when I was unemployed and had lost about a year and a half of work time from my CV because of my premature resignation. But now that I am with a lot of good friends in my new work place and I have come to terms with the changes in my life and come to appreciate and thank God for every thing, small and big, good or bad( what I think is bad) and maybe that has brought me healing.

Catching up seemed to bring realization to me that when I heard of things that happened to my old colleagues, those things didn’t bring me pleasure any more.

Perhaps I have healed after all.

 

#JusJoJan- Jan 13/17- Hospital- a walk to remember

I thought and thought- what can I write about hospitals. I am a doctor but not practicing now- so what relevance does hospitals have for me other than some nostalgia at not seeing patients any more ? My husband carries a smell of hospital with him when he comes back from work and he carries some of his hospital work with him when he returns. But other than that hospitals are a thing of the past for me.

Then it struck me- why not write about a beautiful book I was reading overnight- Thursday- it was called a Walk to Remember. Some of you might remember the movie. I have never seen the movie or read the book before yesterday. My daughter took one look at the book and said- this is a famous movie book and I asked her- do you know it ? She said, ” yes, everyone is talking about it. Everyone dies in the end”. Really ? I cannot read book about dying these days- how am I going to deal with it ?

But its intriguing, gripping plot kept me reading till the end. And there is mention of hospital and illness in the book.

Jamie the heroine or unlikely heroine is unattractive and just opposite of what a teenage high school girl of the time would be. She was not into rock and roll or short dresses or make up. She was nerdish by modern parlance. The hero, her classmate, all of 17 belonged to one of the social elite families of Beaufort, North Carolina. The location of NC struck a chord with me, since many of the bloggers whom I follow and read reside in NC- Anne Merhling who writes at Mehrling Muse writes often about the glorious Smokies. Another blogger who writes at rabbit patch diary blogs about the NC mountains. But the location of this book was the seafront town of Beaufort, NC, which has a coast.

Jamie’s one desire was to act in her Father’s play, which he had written for Christmas and she wanted the hero of the story also to act in the play. They were not friends by any means. But she asked him anyway. He was a socially prominent boy of the times in that town and would have hated spending time with Jamie, even under normal circumstances. Jamie was the daughter of the Baptist priest in town. She walked around with a Bible at all times- she quoted from it often and often talked about praying for one. She was a total, vociferous believer and a true practicing Christian. Visiting a nearby orphanage and spending time there was one of her pastimes.

After acting with Jamie in the play, the hero of the story Carter, comes to know why acting in the play was so dear to her heart. She was fighting a losing battle with an illness, one that had no cure at that time. She had spent time traveling to hospitals and the prognosis was always the same. She wanted to spend the rest of her time on earth doing good for people.

I can’t begin to tell you how this story affected me. When I got the book from our library, Thursday evening, from a free pick all you want book exhibition outside our library, I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. A book by Nicholas Sparks( never heard of him either), but no harm in trying it out- was my first thought.

But though hospitals figured largely in the second part of the book, the focus of the book was not Jamie’s illness or her visits to hospital. It was about the spiritual healing of the hero, who needed to have direction in life and Jamie picked on him to treat him in her own sweet way, so he could see his life’s direction and pursue it instead of wasting his time on earth. Jamie bequeathed her legacy on him and she lived through him, long after she was gone physically from the world.

It has been a long time since a fiction book has touched my core so much. I would recommend it to anyone who needs some positivity n their lives.