Everything The Light Touches

 



We meet Shai.

We meet Evelyn.

We meet Johann.

Each of them – I notice – is set out on a journey.

Shai visits her parents in Shillong. Her work Delhi is almost over. A publishing company printing travel magazines cannot sustain long. She is going through a career crisis. What next? A question that haunts us once in a while. She indulges her father chatting ‘about plant communication, their immense aromatic vocabulary, their capacity for memory’. She charts an unexpected journey to a remote village in Meghalaya, amidst pine trees and bamboo thickets, to visit her nanny. There she learns the rural way of life, closer to the earth, learning to sow and harvest. Mountain deities, sacred grooves, trees known by their individual names. Life seems relevant ‘in learning to tend and grow, prune and harvest’. A purpose at last. A calm in understanding seasons.

What will happen will happen, and sometimes just being open to that means a new path might unfurl before you.”

“Everything you see for the first time you see for the last time, because either the view changes, or you do.”

 

In a different timeline, Evelyn takes a long cruise to India, long enough to weigh her decisions, doubt and reminisce her days as a student of botany. A woman in science, whose voice is annoyance to the men folk that dominate the corridors. Evelyn, not being able to come to a conclusion whether the journey would be considered a spirit of adventure, or stupidity, she decides time will tell. She is not on a mission to secure a husband, as many of her co-passengers are. She is going on a quest – in search of a plant that grows in the wettest landscapes. And to fill her travel notebook with conquests and scientific yet philosophical findings. To live up to her Grandma Grace, who nurtured her love for living and growing things. She grew up wishing over a clover-leaf, watering in the gardens, watching buds bloom and feeling that unbridled oneness with the world around her. And Goethean Science spoke to her: Goethe -a scientist with a poet’s sensibility, who recognized and actualized a new way of seeing nature as an ever-evolving living breathing organism – and understanding it through ‘intuition, inspiration and imagination’.

“To strive, to seek, to find, dear Evie,” her grandma would sing, “and never to yield.”

“Never to yield to what?” she would ask.

A smile, an arched brow. “A life bereft of wonder.”

And in yet different timeline, there’s Johann, journeying from the icy cold homeland to the warmth of Rome, going on botanical expedition, natural exploration, and writing. He is but, Goethe himself, traveling under a pseudo-name.

I am yet to meet Carl. I am sure he too must be inspiring in his own way.

 

~~~~~~~

 

It is such a luxury and privilege to come back to a book at home, after a long hectic day at work. I am savouring each page, slowly, deeply. I do not want it to finish anytime soon. I am at page 180 as of now, writing this post. Oh! such joy it is to annotate, own a hardcover, and read few pages every day, before the rush and urgency begins and after the relaxation sets in.

Janice Pariat writes so deftly. Such quiet precision to the thoughts, the sentences, the punctuations. The lyrical quality of dialogues. That poetry in prose. I adore her writing. And a small me, wants to write as impactfully and as engagingly as her, someday. The sheer width of the subjects covered in the novel, the scope is so big, and the canvas encompasses from Meghalaya, to London, to Rome.

 

~~~~~~~

 

Few years ago, I used to be infinitely amazed by exotic, wild, unfamiliar flora. The amazement grew small year on year. I used to click every tree that seemed different, and post on Instagram or my blog with #ThursdayTreeLove and it was an important affair in blogosphere. I would find the majestic trees of FRI (Forest Research Institute, Dehradun) with such wide girth and giant foliage, like out of a dream.

Why does this book impact me so – because it makes me wonder – how much is it that I really know about nature? The inherent generosity of nature is unimaginable. This book, through poetic prose makes me see, as closely as I possibly can, my own surroundings. I appreciate the gifts more these days, with an increased interest in plants, and trying, once again to grow things in my balcony.

 

Let me get back to reading it now ..

 

 

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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