“Looking around, do you see ruins? That was to be expected. He who lives in the world of words does not get along with things.”
The strangest things are happening.
I sit down to write and it feels like I’m doing this for the first time. I’m not too perturbed; this has happened before.
I try to occupy little space because I know what it does to others when I want too much. I try to be me and then I try to be another me from another time and place. The back and forth, the trial and error, the near impunity of knowing I can choose and yet that I’m bound in ways I’ll never be able to unravel completely – it’s all so strange, you know.
I think I admitted to myself a while back – and it was the most difficult thing in the world – that my unhappiness is not cause of my circumstances, it’s not what others do to me, it’s not about what I don’t have and what I continue to pine for, it is in fact something that I can’t escape from. I’m unhappy with me.
So no matter where I go, no matter the continents I cross, the places I go to seek knowledge or the ones I choose to give my love – I will take this box of unhappiness with me. It fell the other day and it cracked and spilled my unhappiness everywhere. I could not make sense of it. I was there and my unhappiness took a form, it hovered all around me, it settled before me and made me see that what I said had nothing to do with anyone but me.
It’s strange you know, realizing that you have to keep something like that inside you at all times. That it can suddenly surface and throw off all your carefully crafted plans. That you are inherently sad and it can’t ever be changed.
I walk by myself in the cold every day. I feel the chill settle onto the corners of my mouth and the tip of my nose. Sometimes the wind blows my hair to curl around my neck, the stranglehold of it is never subdued by how ticklish it feels. I’m still more afraid than sensitive to it. I often look at my feet and I see the arches my lover adores very much. How is it that I never looked at them the same way?
The point is that happiness is – as people and books might have already told you – a matter of choice and that we all walk around with in-built sadness. The fear of it showing up unannounced at 3AM is what unnerves me. I know all too well that to be happy I have always paid a price. I keep the invoices tucked away in a dark drawer in the recesses of my brain, and it’s strange how sometimes they all decide to come along and collect their dues at the exact same time.
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
All of my existence can be summed up in those sentences. Summer’14 has been really good so far and quite exciting for all my reading indulgences. My recent book haul has left me extremely overwhelmed and also confused about what I should read next because each book seems to be competing and tempting me in equal measures. Here is a list of the books I shall be burying my nose in for the next few months. I’ll go in the order of the ones I’ve already read and then proceed to the ones waiting patiently for their turn to be devoured.
1. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
This is a book I read over a long period of time even though it isn’t a long read. Maggie Nelson’s words sing to me. They’re heavy and wrought with emotion. She is someone who leaks her heart onto paper in a way many female writers these days are afraid to. The book is a collection of 240 entries about love, loss, physical pain and the solace found in the colour blue. It honestly affected me in many ways because I, too, have fallen in love with a colour and often lead my life in a haze depending on the shades of what I saw to make me happy or unhappy. Bluets is a book that blurs the lines between poetry, essay and self-biography. I would highly recommend it to persons who enjoy references to famous authors, thinkers and philosophers and associate with colours just as they would with words.
2. Under The Skin by Michel Faber
I found out about this book from the movie by the same name made by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. I made sure I read the book before I watched the film (which won’t release in my part of the world, unfortunately). There is really not much I can tell you about this book without revealing major plot hints and spoilers. But if you’ve already been sucked in by the hype of the movie, just like I was, you’ll know that it is based on extra-terrestrial beings and what it is like to be human underneath it all. I’m not sure how true the cinematic experience will stay to the book but if it is as terrific and uncomfortable as the written word, we will have to keep an eye out for my movie review. Under The Skin is an ambiguous tale of an alien named Isserley who has been put to work to lure well-built hitchhikers from a Scottish land. For a long while, it is unsure what the end goal actually is, what had been done to Isserley to make her appear human and why she would choose to lead a life like this. Mostly, the reader is left to believe what they want. But when the real nature of her job is revealed it puts several things in perspective. Isserley’s character although so alien and queer it’s still very human and ultimately the message is sent across in a very stark way that under the skin, we are all the same.
Here is a trailer if you’re interested in watching a surreal and beautifully disturbing movie about what it’s like to be human being.
3. A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelley
It has been many, many years since I have felt this strongly about a book and could bring myself to admit that there was writing out there that could actually challenge my favourite book. I favourite things which I relate with the most. I think being able to associate and connect your life with the words written by an author you’ll never personally know and being bound by the secret knowledge that they can put into words exactly what you feel is a luxury every person in the world is entitled to. This is precisely why I loved A Gathering Light right away. That it was a splendid and exciting read and had the most satisfying conclusion only added to and extended the delight of reading it.
A Gathering Light is a compelling and very beautiful read about a young girl named Mattie and how she deals with her familial responsibilities, her dream of being a writer and the flurries in her stomach from the brewing of a first romance. Connected with a real murder at the turn of the century, Mattie comes across letters written by the deceased woman and finds out more about herself and what she wants than she could’ve ever realized on her own.
4. Inferno by Dan Brown
One of the main reasons I read Dan Brown books is to know more about cultures, practices and various historical and art references that you barely find in great detail in any fiction novels nowadays. There is always a lot of controversy surrounding his views and opinions stated implicitly or otherwise in his books but I have always affirmed that he is a brilliant author. To be able to set a pace to a story quite the way he does is rare and exhilarating. Inferno is based on a very interesting topic, Dante’s Divine Comedy. The lucid explanation interspersed with beautiful descriptions of various monuments and landscapes of the most picturesque places in the world, Inferno is one of the most gripping books written by Dan Brown, in very close competition to The Da Vinci Code. The plot twist and dramatic climax is done to perfection and is actually so terrifying that think what I might, there’s no escaping the hell on earth itself that Dan Brown has predicted in Inferno.
And here is a list of books I’ll be reading soon. If you’ve read them, it’d be great to know which ones should have my immediate attention and also any further reading recommendations are most welcome. Drop a comment and let me know.
- Aftermath – Peter Robinson
- Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
- Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
So if you’re looking for me this Summer, you know where to find me. Happy Reading, folks.
It was sunlight, just doing its everyday duty. It was passing through. I was there in its way and it didn’t bend. I wonder if I broke the cross-stitch pattern it was creating on the wooden floor. I picked up a book and looked at it longingly. I think I do that a lot, just holding someone’s world in my hand and appreciating the time and effort put into those pages to raise right from scratch something everyone could love. It’s been long since I was moved so deeply and that afternoon felt like a standstill. My world had slowed down and it was just me and some thousand books and I have never felt safer.
It is odd when material things give you such strong emotions. Remaining unattached has never done any good. When certain people occupy a good-sized apartment in your brain and there’s nothing else you can even think about, that is knowing the sunlight has already broken down the walls which by the way were always made up of Jell-o and not bricks and stones.
I was right there, under the sunlight and all I could think about was the image I was creating from a third person’s point of view. A girl standing motionless next to the window pane with a book in her hand and the sun in her eyes and the sunlight slanting on her hair. Here’s the thing: I was there and I was acutely aware of it. I doubt before that moment if I’ve ever loved my existence so much.