Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dear Binodini #FridayReflections

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Dear Binodini,

When I first held the book ‘Chokher Bali’ I had no idea that knowing you would be such a task. Getting to know you was like deconstructing layers of a rose; I liked you, empathized with you, loved you, hated you, sympathized with you, was jealous of you, and yet finally missed you. I would say, I didn’t judge you, even when you were your worst possible version in the situation. I just read on and on, to find the reason.

‘Chokher Bali’ was the first full-fledged novel by Rabindranath Tagore that I read. My first impression of you was- shrewd, intellectual, well-read, and someone who has a way with words. Kind, gentle, caring at heart with an eye to detail. It was sad that you were a widow; someone who didn’t have much of a married life; someone who didn’t know how destructive and fatal amorous desires could be. And I pitied you when your repressed desire for love and romantic pleasures were brought back by witnessing the rendezvous of the newly married couple. It opened a pathway of doom and disaster not only for them but for you as well. You left so many lives in havoc in your wake to seek your own happiness, satisfaction, and revenge for the injustice life had done with you. Jealousy and seeking that which is not yours brings no good, it just creates barriers and rifts. I was sad, angry and disappointed with you for the path you chose. I wanted to stop you so badly. I wish you had known what it would all lead to finally.

Ashalata was so naïve and simple. Innocent to a fault. She couldn’t even distinguish pranks and censure, and what is real from what is a façade. She loved and adored you dearly, you had become an intimate part and parcel of her life. But you were unnerved by her unintelligence and naivety, her lack of intellect and her childish nature. Had you known how pure she was at heart! Had you known how much she treasured you! You lost such a true friendship. I know that you experienced murderous rage at her retellings of the passionate moments spend with her husband, Mahendra. You were filled with hatred and a mood for vengeance for the injustice. You felt neglected, not cared for, and taken for granted while Asha was crowned the queen of their lives. You were determined to take away everything that came in your way of seeking what you thought you deserved or you presumed was rightfully yours. I was not willing to continue reading at this point. I didn’t want such turn of events to happen. I didn’t want you to suffer for your own actions.

I confess I loved your words in the letters to Mahendra through his wife Ashalata’s pen, though they were not yours to write. There is a seductive power in good vocabulary, a reeling effect in word steeped with emotions and unexpected elation in the expression of passionate rage. And you must have known Mahendra’s exact thoughts on reading those-“Was there a hint in the letter of an ardour- veiled yet implied, forbidden yet intimate, noxious yet delicious, offended but unrequited?” But this was the start of all the chaos and hurt. Only had you chosen Bihari instead!

Bihari was such an ideal guy to root for- well disposed, but pitiable too- whatever was rightfully his, he had to give away to Mahendra, every single time, out of respect for Kakima who pleaded with him to do so. Sacrifice was his second name. Guilt and remorse his personality. But he’s idealistic to a fault- one with restraint and reserve who did not heed the misgivings of the heart to uphold respect and decorum. He’s miles away from any scandal or scorn. I so wished, dearest Binodini, that you could find happiness with him. I so wish that the misunderstandings hadn’t resulted in such turn of events.

I found solace in the way your story ended in the book- acceptance and normalcy at last. Will revisit you some day.

Till then. Be well. Miss you.

Love and Hugs,

Your ‘Chokher Bali’


Linking it with #FridayReflections

Living my Imperfect Life

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fear of Death and Dying #FridayReflections

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Talking about death and dying, more than my own I fear the death of my near and dear ones. The inevitability of it all hasn’t yet settled in. Acceptance hasn’t come to me, yet. There was a time during the early teenage years, I used to speculate life without my family, and plan my survival if such a mishap ever did happen. It was depressing, almost dysfunctional. I was going through a bitter phase, and such thoughts just heightened the melancholic feelings. But now, after years, these thoughts have become a part and parcel of life. Every time a kin doesn’t receive the phone call; every time a family member who isn’t home doesn’t respond to messages and calls; every time the friend is out on a drive and the phone’s unreachable, this creepy thought does peep from some corner of the mind. And it’s intimidating.

I haven’t experienced death from close quarters. The demise of someone from the extended family, two suicides, and fatal accidents of certain college juniors- I have seen how my parents react to it, how affected they are by the sad and sudden news, and it does bother me. I feel the pain and the helplessness. It’s excruciating, almost killing. I just can’t imagine what it would be like, when I myself would have to go through that phase, sometime in my life. I haven’t known grief, denial, emptiness, anger and final acceptance personally- except through friends, family and such touching poignant tales in books and movies. I don’t know how I would take it. I don’t know how I would fare. Sometimes I think I would become detached, stop caring and feeling. Then, I think I am more humane than that. And this speculation keeps that fear alive in me. I wish I wasn’t so afraid every moment. I wish I could just accept the greater forces working in our lives.


Thinking of my own lifespan, I speculate a lot on that too. I think perhaps everybody does. They say life is shorter than you think it is. I wonder so many things. Would I finally find my purpose in life? Would I write that novel I’ve been trying and failing at? Would I be able to strike off all the things in my wish list? How far and wide would I be able to travel? What would I regret? Would I be able to leave my mark? Would I ever marry? Would I be a mother? What would life be like in about twenty years- would I be here to see that? No amount of time can be enough to spend with loved ones. Even if someone wanted to hand me a deadline, I would refuse to have one. I wouldn’t want to know my future, my deadline. And perhaps this fear of death is a boon in disguise; it does make us feel alive. It’s fear that makes you feel alive. So, in a way, sometimes, I am thankful for it. 

PS: This is last week's prompt for #FridayReflections ....


Living my Imperfect Life

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Who would you be?

Source: Pixabay

who are you
when no one's around
when the gazing eyes of the multitude see you not
when the attention of the people scare you not

who are you
when no one cares about your identity
when you have nothing to lose
when you come out of your hiding

who are you 
when you can be a figment of imagination
when you can be a make-believe
when that name is not yours to take

who are you?

Friday, January 20, 2017

‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven



I haven’t read a book that describes depression better, without any prejudices, without being judgmental, without any ill informed facts or misconceptions. No book had been so understanding, consoling and comforting. It deals with suicide thoughts, living life to the fullest and that sinking feeling – that indescribable emotion that brings in the void, the emptiness, the loneliness, and wretched thought of abandon, without any reason. I am grateful to have read this book. I am immensely thankful to the author to have written this. I wish it reaches more and more readers than it already has. Let there be awareness and love without bias. Let these thoughts not be just labeled as ‘weird’ or ‘sick’ or ‘mental illness’ steeped in shame, embarrassment, and fear of alienation.

Violet Markey is devastated by her sister Eleanor’s untimely death due to a car accident, of which she’s a survivor. She feels she’s cheated Eleanor somehow by being alive. Life is not the same anymore. She’s not the same anymore. When a part of your identity ceases to exist, you too slowly cease to exist. One day she finds herself on the ledge of the school bell tower, contemplating suicide. Theodore Finch wants to take his own life- he is up there too considering suicide. But it is him who talks Violet down the ledge that day, thus saving her. He shouts ‘Thanks for saving my life, Violet’ when around other classmates, as everyone already knows what Theodore Freak is almost always up to, Violet needn’t face the same gossips and humiliation. Thus their story begins.

Finch's Rules For Wandering- Love This!!!



Violet and Theodore spend more time together as they are paired up for their school project for which they need to travel and visit places in their neighborhood and the outskirts of their town. They travel to several seemingly insignificant places in their town and leave something of their own there before returning. They click pictures, write, and jot down points about the places. I like the way they leave behind a tiny bit of their own in the place that they visit, for someone else to find, most probably another not so usual visitor, after months or years. Love the gesture, the thought behind it.

'We do not remember days, we remember moments. -Cesare Pavese. I remember running down a road on my way to a nursery of flowers. I remember her smile and her laugh when I was my best self and she looked at me like I could do no wrong and was whole. I remember how she looked at me the same way even when I wasn't.' - Theodore Finch

Theodore is different- infamous for being suicidal yet he survives every day with a single thought – ‘No, today is not a good day to die.’ People avoid him for being a weirdo, they don’t understand him. ‘I’ve always been different, but to me different is normal.’ He too suffers when his consciousness doesn’t listen to him. He’s experienced that feeling of being phased out, shut out from the world, emotionally detached, Asleep, yet still hanging in there. He runs miles in the dead of the night when his mind is bursting hazy and he can’t sleep. He plays guitar, makes up lyrics and composes songs, hoping his songs would change the world. He paints the walls when he’s Awake, puts up sticky notes on the wall with words that refuse to leave his head. And he is grateful for having met Violet- the only person who seems to speak his language, though just a few words of it anyway. There’s just so much to him that he doesn’t let others know. He’s screwed up inside, yet, he’s able to make Violet want to live.

Quoting Virginia Woolf - Wanna Read The Waves


Violet no more feels ‘none of it matters anyway- not school, not college, not friends, not exams’. She doesn’t say ‘It’s all just time fillers until we die’. She is slowly starting to get back the words that seemed to have left her. She has discontinued writing in the website which she and Eleanor had started together, but she wants to write again. She has germmagazine.com which is her new project. She is allowing herself to live without guilt, and for once in ages thinking of her life as a gift than a punishment. While Violet is inspired to start anew, encouraged to set foot out into the world, and live beyond the despair that eye can see, Theodore is going further into the abyss. Oblivion is engulfing him to the point of suffocation. "I am disappearing. Maybe I'm already gone. I am in pieces. The cadence of suffering has begun."

Wishlists

Theodore goes missing, leaving behind a few messages for Violet, some facebook status updates, quotations from The Waves by Virginia Woolf and a roadmap. The journey Violet takes on her own to follow his footprints, the paths he's chartered, to find him, are my favorite part of the book. This book broke my heart but mended it too, with the cracks and dents left unattended for light to enter....

My rating: 5/5 stars

Monday, January 9, 2017

I Am Rooted, But I Flow



Some weekends are about poetry analysis or paraphrasing with my sister and pondering over philosophical ideas and spiritual discourses. Today was one of such days. Nothing cliché about it, it is just something we sisters thoroughly enjoy and connect deeply with.

I would like to share with you some of the profound thoughts I read in The Speaking Tree someday.

“A dimension beyond physicality has infused itself into this wonderful mechanism that human body is. This dimension is the very source of life. It is this that truly makes us who we are. This is why human beings seem to live in a constant struggle between the physical and the dimension beyond.
Though you have the compulsiveness of the physical, you also have the consciousness of being more than just physical.

There are two basic forces. Most people see them as being in conflict. One is the instinct of self-preservation, which compels you to build walls around yourself. The other is the constant desire to expand, to become boundless. Material versus spiritual. One force helps you root yourself well on this planet; the other takes you beyond.

The article goes on to explain that this desire to transcend physical limitations is very inborn and is the very basis of any spiritual process. And there is a conflict if there is an imbalance; else this paradox is very natural. Now deriving from this thought- I have always wanted to go away from home, travel, explore, away from the roots and places of comfort; but then I have also had an urge to stay back where I am, or to return to my comfortable corner in this world. Such is the contradiction of life, dreams, and desires.

I am experiencing so many seemingly conflicting emotions these days. The need to engage and the yearn to quietly detach. Willing to detach and let go but wanting to possess. The wish to go and that longing to stay back. That overwhelming urge to give in and open up to all those tumultuous emotions, write and bleed on the paper, and that recurrent appearance of the wall that holds me back. Reading this article did answer so many lingering doubts.

Does your mind wander in the similar fashion? Do share your musings.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

All Signs Lead Back To You



I have always had a liking towards tales with themes of partings and meetings. So this story did hit home almost instantly. And when the author is Aniesha Brahma, I don't really have to think twice before picking it up.

Diya is deep, complex, and a complicated mess. She believes everything in her life comes with an expiry date. She builds more walls around her than bridges. She lets no one in on anything that's important to her, or that she holds close to her heart. Yet the one person who has been through that barrier, Nina- Diya's best friend, calls her that once-in-a-lifetime friend - whom you should never let go of however many times she shuts the door on your face to shoo you off. She may seem selfish and careless but beyond that fake calm exterior is a weak vulnerable person. I loved Diya. I could easily connect with her, being the almost philophobic person that I am.

Ashwin is caring and loving. He tries his best to understand Diya, when she cuts off all contact with him on the last day of school, and when their paths cross after three long years. Shaken by the chance encounter he questions himself whether he really knew Diya at all in the high school years. His perspective of who Diya was as a person and Nina's perspective are so much at odds. Ashwin is kind and an unusual guy who loves discussing books and characters and going to the library for a date. How cute is that!

The story follows a beautiful journey of the characters discovering and accepting each other as they really are without any pretension. Love the ending. I won't reveal it here but know that it's not stereotypical.


One day my mailbox had a link to an article called ‘How to Free Ourselves from the Fear of Love’ in elephantjournal.com. I find the articles here very personal, intimate, revealing, and soulful. The writers have their vulnerabilities laid bare and it does reach out to the readers. There is so much honesty in their words, and the writings speak to you and comfort you like a dear friend. I have loved every post I read here. It has become my go-to site these days.

So the mentioned article described my state completely. “I watch the world from behind the glass window. It’s lonely here, but safe; in this place I can be seen but not reached.” It’s a sad realization for me that all that’s written in this piece is true, the ugly vulnerable truth about who I perhaps am. ‘Leave first, before they leave you.’ My thoughts have an uncanny similarity to this statement. Diya’s thoughts are similar too. Is it even possible that someone else feels the same way? Don’t try to mingle, because they would realize you are not worth it in a matter of days. Don’t make too many friends, it will just make you dissipate away from yourself. They will leave you once they realize you are boring.

Now, this is a bit personal and intimate. I think I am Philophobic. I have never fallen in love- rather I have never allowed myself to love anyone beyond a boundary limit. I have consciously or unconsciously checked all those prospective feelings projected from prospective ‘the one’s. I have never even considered feeling it. They have never crossed the walls built around my heart. I don’t know what to do about it- opening up seems impossible, terrifying, and a whole new terrain I have never set foot in. So yes, I could totally connect with Diya and draw solace from her story.

I kind of had that John Green type feeling while reading this, a new world where 'okay' may not mean 'love you' but 'darling' did mean 'stupid'. Awaiting the next book by the author. Sending love and hugs her way for writing this one.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is a quick read, best suited to the busy lifestyle most of us are having. If nothing else, I assure you this book would give you few hours of serene and calm, and a greater sense of understanding and empathy. I would rate it 4/5 stars.

 
Aniesha Brahma

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year 2016 In Review and Goals For 2017

Framed Moments

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2K17

The Year 2016 was awesome. The first half was all struggles, embarrassments, disappointments and trouble for me. But the second half was unexpectedly better- that Pune trip with best buddies, that family trip in October, the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, the immense growth that I saw in my personality and all the life wisdom that I learned!!

I struck off many a wish-list this year. I did convert many a dream into reality this very year. Looking back, connecting the dots, I can see what a phenomenal year it was. I came across so many new people, established new friendships that do mean a lot to me, and I connected with the people who inspire me in one way or the other.



I do have some New Year Resolutions, well, let’s call them New Year Goals. I don’t really connect with the word ‘resolution’.

1. Be more visible- accept vulnerability, accept imperfection. Aim growth not perfection. Be                 more mindful about your emotions- don’t shut them out or hide them. Acknowledge them.
2. Read more non-fiction, especially memoirs, travelogues.
3. Listen to audio-books more often.
4. Resume writing poetry. Resume journaling.
5. Write a review a week, detailed, honestly, soulfully, as truly as you can.
6. Don’t multitask. It takes away the soul from whatever you are doing. Accept that multitasking is         not for you. Single-task. Do things one at a time.
7. Travel more.
8. Let go of the urge to commit to every expectation of your friends and family. Learn to say ‘It’s           not a priority right now’ if you find saying ‘no’ hard.
9. Meet at least one blogger friend who has inspired you immensely.
10. Spread love, happiness, kindness, and joy wherever you go. Reach out more.