Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Witches by Roald Dahl

One page of The Witches and am bewitched. Oh, why didnt I come across this writer before and now, why so late! The way he writes, the simplicity of his language, the flights of fancy when he writes about the qualities of the witches. What happens when the witches of the world unite to eliminate all children from the face of earth? One child a week equals fifty-two a year, squash them and squiggle them and make them disappear." With this motto in mind, the witches hold a convention. A seven-year old boy turns rescuer of all children with the help of his grandmother. 

A tale with its own mixture of humour,fantasy and the incredible, The Witches sound so real that it made me wonder whether there is really an organisation like that! You read the chapter describing how witches hide their real nature, how they put wigs over their bald heads, how they hide their expression of hatred behind kind, benevolent eyes...it's so amazingly real! A good read for children and for those who love children's books or those who keep the child's heart.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise L Hay

Are you uncomfortable with change? Do you feel frightened with sudden changes in life? Written by the famous inspirational writer Louise L Hay, this book celebrates the power of our own hearts to heal ourselves and adapt to the changes in life. Louise L Hay is a famous metaphysical lecturer and teacher known for her bestseller ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. She has inspired millions of people to discover the vast treasure that lies within our hearts. She advocates our need to connect to what she calls ‘Inner Self”. The key idea in the book is the need for responsibility as the ability to respond to life in order to get the best out of it. The first steps in connecting with our inner selves are to get out of the victim mindsets and abandoning the illusion of someone rescuing us from the mess we are in. The knowledge of our power to respond creatively to life is liberation and it frees us from our old way of thinking and feeling. This enables us to shed our old beliefs and welcome the new in life. With the release of the past and acceptance of our own selves come the innumerable blessings of life. My favourite thought comes under the title of good health. Good health, according to Hay is “ having no fatigue, having a good appetite, going to sleep and awakening easily, having a good memory, having good humour, having precision in thought and action, and being honest, humble, grateful and loving”. Heart Thoughts celebrates change as the rule of life. Dedicated to our own hearts, this collection of meditations about day-to-day issues by Louise L Hay can change our lives or make us aware of the powers that lie within us and thus create richness in our lives. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Grandmother’s House by Kamala das




Do you carry the memory of a ‘home’ to which your heart retreats in times of anguish? Do you feel nostalgic at the thought of happy moments in the past?

Kamala Das, the Indian poetess recalls her ancestral home and her dead grandmother in the poem “My Grandmother’s House”. Kamala Das’ poems as well her imagery is extremely personal and drawn from life. This poem takes the form of a confession comparing her present broken state with that of being unconditionally loved by her grandmother.

Published in 1965 in Summer in Calcutta the poem is a reminiscence of the poetess’ grandmother and their ancestral home in Punnayurkulam in Kerala. Her memory of love she received from her grandmother is associated with the image of her ancestral home. With the death of her grandmother the house withdrew into silence. It became desolate and snakes crawled among books. Her blood became cold like the moon because there was none to love her the way she wanted.

Now, in another city, living another life, she longs to go back. She understands that she cannot reclaim the past but she wants to go back home and bring a handful of darkness to keep as a reminder of her past happiness. Now she is like a beggar going from one door to another asking for love in small change. Her need for love and approval is not satisfied in marriage and she goes after strangers for love at least in small quantity.

The poem springs from her own disillusionment with her expectation of unconditional love from the one she loves. In the poem, the image of the ancestral home stands for the strong support and unconditional love she received from her grandmother. The imagery is personal and beautifully articulates her plight in a loveless marriage.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dreams

Are we the stuff that dreams are made of? In the heart there must be places for living and dead dreams. This thought started after reading Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun. The key idea of the play is what happens to a person whose dreams grow more and more passionate--while his hopes of ever achieving those dreams grow dimmer each day. Thetitle comes from a poem by Langston Hughes.It asks:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over -
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?"

In Proverbs 13:12, we read: "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick;but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."




Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rose for you!

A faded rose is not a worthy gift;
Yet playfully I offered you one.
A broken heart is not ready to love;
I waited for time to heal its wounds.

With the rain, my heart danced,  
The earth blossomed into petals of joy.
But you were no longer around,
One for whom the roses bloomed.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Write?

Do you know why writers write? Have you wondered why so many people have sit down at their desks or in front of their computers waiting for the words to come? Are these writers addicted to words? You can see that many writers have catalogued the reasons why they write. You can see that one reason why people give form to their thoughts must be to communicate with like-minded people, who can really understand what the writer is saying. As you know, all communication intends to bridge barriers of understanding between people caused by various factors like personality, intelligence, social and cultural contexts. Yet while reading great writers you can see that there exists a quality in their writing which transcends time, space, age, culture and gender. In such cases the underlying humanity gives flavour to their words, which ring true throughout the ages. For these writers, writing is a way of attaining immortality. Therefore you can conclude that the basic reason for writing is the need for self-expression. 

For some however, it is a way of living, a way of giving sense to haphazard reality which drives them mad. Writing helps you achieve a sense of control over your own thoughts. Writing helps to shape memories and preserve them. This is one reason that people write diaries. It fulfils the human need to communicate. For some people it is an addiction. It makes people feel powerful to think that they are in charge of their lives. In the case of outcastes from society they feel strong and powerful while they write. The victim mentality is replaced by a strong personality. This is often related to finding a voice in writing. You can develop your writing voice only by writing more and more. The more you work at your style the stronger your voice becomes. The personality that emerges is strong and the voice clear and lucid. It dissolves some contradictions in the personality and therefore can be treated as a therapy. 

You can see that all writers are in a process of evolution. The style evolves over a period of time. Their style emerges from a drizzle developing into a heavy shower. The flow of ideas and associations of thoughts are unique for different people. Though writers are accused of living a life according to their own rules, you can see that it is the creative and evolutionary spirit that distinguishes them from others. For the Victorians, a writer was a torch or leading light. I feel that a writer absorbs into the self the temper and spirit of the times yet is driven by the life-spirit. 

Whatever may be the reason to write, you can see that writing is curative to the spirit. It gives you a sense of power. A novelist is God while writing. He decides the fate of his characters and knows the present, future and past. So ultimately to write is to be God in your own world of ideas- omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home is the best!



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Request

Come back with the summer rain,
Come back to me, in the summer rain.
With your hair wet and eyes tender,
Come home to me in the summer rain.

In the rain, stand near to me, 
As the earth dances with the sky, 
In the rain, come back, my love, 
As the fond touch of raindrops.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Upon Westminster Bridge

Do you prefer the stillness of nature in a village or the rush-hour traffic of city life? Most people love the village life. Was the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth an exception? Known as the High Priest of Nature, he loved the scenic beauty of the Lake District and celebrated scenes from rustic life. Then how could he write a poem on a scene from city life- a poem on Westminster Bridge situated in the heart of London city? You are not the only person to be surprised. Wordsworth himself was astonished at the sight of the quiet London city one early morning in September 1802. He was traveling with his sister Dorothy across Westminster Bridge on their way to France. It was between five o’clock and six o’clock in the morning. As opposed to usual, the city was silent and deserted. He realized to his own amazement that the noisy city he disliked was also a part of Nature than the face of commerce it was during the day.

In the morning sun, the poet found the city to be the most beautiful sight on earth. Only a dull person will fail to appreciate the calmness inspired by the quiet city basking in the morning sun. The landmarks of the city looked silent and bare without the rush of life across the streets. The river Thames looked as if driven by an inner force than the noisy place of commerce during the day. Yet was the city really asleep? No, the mighty heart – the capital of the most powerful nation in the world at that time and its people – will wake up soon.

This sonnet “Upon Westminster Bridge” is a passionate expression of Wordsworth’s love of Nature and his ecstatic astonishment at the peacefulness of London city early morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pieta



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Epitaph for love

Here lies the dreams
Of a long lost love,
Better not touch,
You might wound
The heart or even
Release old ghosts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Written in Absence

In the rain
There are no barriers…
In the Life-spirit
There are no reasons…
Only Life
And Love…
So let it be…


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Masks

You and me have worn many masks with each other. Any other woman would leap and violently tear that mask of silence off your face. But I watch in silence, everyday, how far will you carry the game. You will only smile and say the same words of courtesy. But when your silence is broken by hoarse laughter that sounds so hollow, all my anger disappears and I find you the same as ever, childish and ever trying to hide your insecurity in being aloof and in being funny. After finding out how you feel, I see that I try to do the same with you.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Lucky Bamboo



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Waiting at Twilight

What is love? Many answers, at the same time. 
As the twilight meets the dark and the light, 
Just as one rainy afternoon you bid farewell,
Talking of matters I did not understand.

Why did it have to rain on days we met and parted?
Why did a walk in the rain bring such love?
And a concealed set of desperate symptoms,
Which I'd never known was of true love.

Now another mirage, another dream choked by logic,
Gives me vision to see clearly what I have lost. 
"My love" on the afternoon you left, my heart whispered, 
Though my voice choked it with a farewell,

I still remember how tears had fallen, 
How sobs had broken for words that didnt come,
Twilight has come again and I meet you everyday,
In every face, in every word, everywhere.

Foolish heart scared of what it didnt know, 
Killed love so mercilessly without letting it live.
Nothing, nothing but you in my heart, 
Today I witness twilight and my own life.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dreamers Beware

He moved his face close to hers and she closed her eyes. They were sitting on a stone-bench in the park. He was sitting close to her with his arms round her. She was scared of other people staring at them but she found that no one was noticing them. As he said people came there for the silence the park gave them. 

It was their first meeting after months. He had turned up all on a sudden and told her: “I need to talk to you”. She screamed in delight on seeing him. She pinched him to check if he was real. He was the one who suggested the park. They walked together towards the place. He put his arm around her shoulders and chatted with her.

They chose a very quiet nook in the park. The place was really beautiful. She felt she was imagining this meeting with him. She sat near him feeling his presence. Her entire body was warm under his touch and her heart was not beating but galloping. Then he began describing the adventures he had during all these months. His left arm was around her waist and he held her hand in his right hand. 

She smiled at him and they looked into each other eyes for a long time. Then he moved his face close to hers. She felt that the moment had arrived after such a long time. Their first kiss. She closed her eyes. She could feel his face near hers. 

Then she heard a sound. What was that sound, she wondered? It was a ringing sound. Oh! It was her alarm clock ringing to tell her that it was 6 0’clock. She got up and said “@!#$%*.

Then again she went to bed praying for a sequel of the same dream… Oh Lord, please! No way. Sleep had deserted her. She got up and looked in the mirror. She wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Yet strangely she felt happy because the feel of his strong arms around her was still there. So was the smell of his perfume. She smiled and wished him a good day!



Friday, December 05, 2008

Krishna

“Where were you all this time? These months?” asked Radha. 

Krishna said with a smile, “I was travelling in many lands, through deserts, over seas and oceans and learning more of life.

“Did you ever think of me?” Radha persisted.

“All the time. You were with me every moment with every beat of this heart. When I crossed the rivers I took you in my arms so as not to wet you. When I traveled through deserts I kept you hidden in my heart away from the scorching heat. When I slept I dreamt of your soft hands caressing my face tenderly. Radha, you were with me every day and every moment.”

“You sweet talker! All the butter that you ate has gone into your words”. Krishna burst out laughing. Radha pouted her lips. He was amused by her anger and kissed her. Then he took out his flute and played a melody she loved the most. 

The evening sky was bright with a red light. The huge banyan tree they sat under was filled with chirping birds who were settling down in the evening. His melody calmed her and she sat near him with her arms around his dark body. Then she was strangely silent. “Why are silent today, Radha? Why are you looking at me like this?” She said nothing and went on looking at his face as tenderly as a mother would look at her baby.

“Don't ever go away from me, my dearest. Being away from you is death for me”, she thought of telling him. Her mind formed many more words but never said it aloud: “I love you. I need you. I promise you that I will love you, respect you and cherish you till the end of my life”. 

“I am always with you, my beloved and I can hear your each thought, each sigh, feel your each tear too”, he whispered in her ears. “Then why do you go away from me?”

He rested on her lap and played his flute. She moved her face close to his and kissed his eyes. Strands of her long hair were falling on his ecstatic face. His eyes were still like a calm lake. Then suddenly it started to rain.

The earth was dancing under the touch of rain. So was she dancing under Krishna's touch. Neither of them moved and they sat under the banyan tree with the rain dripping through the branches and soaking them.

Krishna got up to go and as he was about to go she ran to him. “Don't go away from me again” and started crying. His head was wet from the rain and she felt a strange desire to hold him close to her heart and never let him go any where. 

Radha was awakened by the sound of bells. She saw that her beloved had left her and she was alone beneath that huge banyan tree. She sobbed “I am always yours Krishna. Never to be touched by another”. Tears ran down her cheeks and in the morning light her face looked so forlorn. 

The morning light soft and shiny drained through the curtains in her room. She woke up and suddenly understood that it was just a dream. Her Krishna was there lying on the bed fast asleep. She smiled and caressed his unshaven face. She planted a kiss on his forehead and snuggled against him.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Evenings with coffee

I would say, you were a stranger, who somehow knocked against me accidentally somewhere along the road on a rainy day. After the initial shock had worn out, we looked at each other with wonder.

You sat beside me for a friendly chat sipping hot coffee in an evening air that smelt of freshly brewed coffee and newly baked bread.

You and me spoke of things that were trivial, irrelevant to every one else in our lives. That evening was followed by many, which smelt of coffee and bread. The smells became familiar but not repellent.

Strangely the word “coffee” brings your face to the mind. After so long, when I sit with a cup of coffee and a book watching the rains, I don’t know what I look at or look for outside the window.

This rain somehow brings up memories I cannot erase. The so-called days together were not very remarkable but stay afloat just like the smell of freshly brewed coffee and newly baked bread. So much that I don’t know whether I am sad or plain hungry!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dream

Your fingers haunt me,
Your unseen lips taunt me;
Your love is more a dream.

Your words melt me,
My heart nor my soul,
Are safe from your attacks.

You are a presence in dreams,
And an absence from real life,
For eons altogether.

Yet yours is a face that I search,
In every crowd that I see,
Straining for your voice.

Invisible and stealthy,
You intrude upon my silences,
And leave an emptiness beside.
But when awake from your dream,
I know you were here, near me,
From the happiness that I feel.

Monday, December 01, 2008

On books

A lot of books are published everyday on the works of great writers.When you read these books, you will understand that the interpretations given by these writers vary from what the original writers have thought about. Who would have thought that Hamlet would be accused of Oedipus Complex? So what happens is that these learned critics and scholars undervalue literature by giving undue importance to trivia.

Another major trend in the current academia is that literary theory is more important that literature itself. Since the second half of the twentieth century many theories have come into existence and they have replaced literature.What difference does it make to the reader to know that the writer was expressing his/her repressed thoughts through the use of a symbol in a poem under analysis? More than giving strange interpretations, what literature does is to change a perspective of life by providing a richer understanding of its mystery.

Simplify, simplify, simplify, said Thoreau. He was wise to know that most eloquent speeches were vacant of meaning or spirit. Many good writers write with a simple, unadorned style and it is not difficult to see the effort that has gone into developing such clear and lucid thinking. What I would like to know is how was your perspective changed on reading a particular book?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Rhythm of Rain

It was a rainy day. I was standing there near the entrance of the college, completely drenched and shivering with cold, waiting for the rain to stop so that I could go home and rest idly on my warm and cozy bed listening to the soft and enchanting music that the pelting raindrops made outside. But the rain showed no signs of stopping. THe whole verdant canopy was adorned with jewels like a modest bride. 



I was awakened from my rambling thoughts by a young girl with an umbrella. She understood from my face that I hadn't her question. She invited me to join her till the bus-stop. Though, I hesitated her friendly smile reassured dared my mind and I joined her in her little world. 

The moment she began to speak I labelled her as a "qualified chatterbox". The distance we had to cover stretched before us...farther had we had realised then. She was short and petite with the look of an innocent child. But what struck me most was the trace of wildness flickering in her eyes whenever she spoke enthusiastically of something. The rain had stopped but we seemed to be in no mood to depart. But we had to. She went away smiling while I stood thanking her kindness. I reached home in a trance. 

I began weaving dreams around her. Her piercing eyes with a wild look...they haunted me...throughout my sleep and my waking hours. I decided in my mind to see her every day. But then what? Will she refuse me? I tried in vain to discourage my eager heart by making her only an acquaintance met by chance, who may become a friend later, but not my love. Still I found consolation in despair. 

By some kind of an intuition I knew she would be there next day at the same spot. As I thought, she was there. As there was no rain I got no chance for accidental jostlings but still I was happy. I wondered how beautiful it would be if we shared an umbrella of life, a life of laughter and tears? Then with an ache I thought how a jobless youth like me unable to support himself would think of marriage?

Our walk became a habit for us. Talking trivia and enjoying life. I found myself borrowing her ideas and catchwords, her enthusiasm and even her philosophy of life. I read with ardour not my books but her. Every feature on her face I studied with close attention. Especially her eyes which had a keen gaze and her smiles for different occasions. Though she was not stunningly gorgeous, her enthusiasm and cheerfulness added bounce to her features and mobilised her face into a beautiful sight. To me, the most cherishable part in her was her sympathetic self that went out in pity foreveryone and everything in distress. A day for me ended at the bus-stop with her departure,

One day she remained agitated and remained silent and unresponsive. As we walked together that her parents wanted to marry her off to someone working abroad and had settled the union without even asking her approval. Her dreams of an academic career and economic as well as individual freedom were strangled in silence. 

Though her heart was breaking, her voice choked with tears and eyes brimming, she controlled her tears. As we parted, I thought her eyes had a lost "look". What had she lost? Was it really her dreams? Or...was it me? What prevented her from saying that she loved me?

That night I kept thinking of that tear that did not fall. It was for me...it was for me...my heart kept telling me. But alas? She had not said a word. 

Two days later she came to our favourite spot walking in the rain. Raindrops were trickling all over her.She tried to smile  and gave an enthusiastic talk on her love for rain. The raindrops racing down her cheeks made me think that there may be tears in them too. 

We rambled through our familiar path. I found her shivering with cold. My wild heart wanted to put my arms round her protecting her from the cold and the rain, to hold her close to my heart, to kiss her and to make her mine. With much exertion, I reminded myself that she was betrothed to another and I controlled myself. 

As if she was reading my thoughts she turned and fixed her enquiring glance upon me. We stood there face to face. She moving my heart with her pleading eyes..to change her life. To my surprise, she caught my arm and placed it against her cheek. I felt a tear on my hand. I turned her towards me and gently kissed her on the forehead.She smiled through her tears and rested her head against my chest. I ran my fingers all over her face and kissed it myriad times. We departed in silent jubilation. I was ecstatic with the thought that I was worth her love. 

For some days she didn't come to college. Then a friend informed that she is in the hospital with high fever. But the tidings that came next shattered me completely. She, whom I loved more than myself, the throb of my heart was dead. After suffering for a week she quietly slipped away in her sleep. My qualified chatterbox. 

I couldn't bear the thought of seeing her lifeless...without that wildness flickering in her eyes...I denied myself that torture. But just as in the fairy tales I thought won't I be able to rouse her from the sleep of death by planting a kiss of true love upon on her cold lips?

Now, it's raining outside. Nature dressed  up like a bride is waiting for her beloved, and I think somewhere in time she may be waiting for me too, with a pleading look in her eyes. Though she is gone from the world, I feel her living in me as my life-throb. Whatever I may do, I won't sleep this night, for a pair of eyes with a wild glitter in them will sing to me, new joys of love, till I wake for her from the dream of life. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Amazing Resilience



What will you do if you are diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25? Lance Armstrong was not made to quit, but to fight.

In his inspirational memoir, Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist traces his struggle with cancer, life and the bike. It's not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life celebrates the undaunted courage and resilience of the human soul.

Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1970 at Plano, Texas in USA. He is the second rider to win the Tour De France titles in five consecutive years from 1999 to 2003.

He began his career as a cyclist in 1992 when he joined the Motorola Team. He won stages of the Tour De France in 1993 and 1995 but withdrew from three of four Tours attempted from 1993 to 1996.

Immediately after the 1996 Tour, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. After a series of combats with cancer through surgery and chemotherapy, he came to back into life fighting all odds against his survival.

He made a dramatic comeback by winning the Tour of Luxembourg in 1998. Next year, he attempted the Tour De France and became the second American to win the title for an American team. In 2003 he won his fifth consecutive Tour de France, thereby setting his name against the cycling champion Miguel Indurain.

A moving tale about life and survival, written in a direct style stating the facts, this book is a token of hope against the killer cancer. He fought cancer with the same spirit that he showed in mastering the bike on difficult terrain and emerged champion.