We remember.

We remember things but forget the minutiae, and sometimes even the most traumatic of experiences. Humans are adept in the art of self preservation hence we have colonized the earth (or so we think until a virus comes along and makes us question everything we knew). We move on with our lives for better or worse but try not to forget the things that really matter. Making sense of things is more important than moving on. Honestly, I have never really understood what moving on meant and with life passing me by and time galloping away, I’m not even going to try.

I lost a friend recently. Many people lost their loved ones this year, (it’s the season of loss) and we have our own ways of coping. But what do you do in case of an online friend? I talked to other online friends who knew her but I still felt bereft. This person was someone whose strength and innate goodness I had admired, so it hit me particularly hard even though we had never met in person. I haven’t seen her handwriting or heard her voice but I knew her. In unguarded moments we shared the story of our lives as it really was, in all its ugliness. We had a connection, and battled some of the same issues. Now I’m here and she’s not. Life isn’t fair. I know that by now, but it still doesn’t feel any less painful or make its acceptance easy.

We wander around life thinking we have forever but our days are numbered and the countdown begins the moment we are born. But how many of us how truly understand the nature of time? Now a person is there, now gone. Some things we understand only in hindsight; when we can’t do anything about it but lament. The things we don’t do for others keeps on playing into the regrets of our life stories. Whenever someone dies I am filled with regrets about the things I could have done but didn’t do. But I have realised to live and feel deeply, is to live with regrets.

This year has been hard for so many of us for a multitude of reasons. It made me realize you can’t just hope to exist and live this life coasting by doing the bare minimum, not if you want to live. Survive. Live. Thrive. One step at a time. Survival is something one has to want, and give one’s whole self to (heart and brain working in tandem), and that means dwelling in the past is out of question. We know that bringing our A game is something we need to do but it doesn’t mean we always do. Gentle reminder to self going forth into the new year to look at things differently, in a solution oriented manner, and focusing on the positive however bleak the circumstances might be. Broken I might be in places, but I’m still alive.

Thoughts on The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

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I loved Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth and I have come to expect lyrical prose and magical realism in her work. I am not a fan of magical realism as such but hers I gobble up like a plate of hot Top Ramen noodles (read the fragrance of childhood). Poetry, magic, fate everything I have never understood and can’t put into words, Alice Hoffman does it with ease like she has done it all her life, which she has, but it always takes me by surprise.

I usually steer clear of misery or negativity in pop culture unless I think I can handle it. And Alice Hoffman should be read when you can handle her prose. Her words pierce your soul. She wrings out emotions and feelings you never thought you had. The storyline is easy to follow but the themes are weighty. The Ice Queen deals with matters of life and death and everything in between that constitutes the business of living. She writes fairy tales for adults but don’t be fooled into thinking that it would be simple or straightforward.

I took the book with me when I was travelling but somehow I could sense it wasn’t the place for it and I read very little. And I didn’t want to read the book at breakneck speed because I wanted to inhabit the words of this book until I absorbed its essence.

Like many reviewers I agree there isn’t an extra word in The Ice Queen. She covers so much in 211 pages. It is a sentimental tale but the ending is unpredictable. At the centre of the story is an unlikeable protagonist – the unnamed narrator, who is a librarian and a lightning survivor. Something happened when she was a child and and she has allowed it to colour her entire life. Lightning has always fascinated me but this scared me, the damage it can do to your system if you have the misfortune to be struck by it. Her character changes in a fundamental way and she sees herself differently by the time the book ends and so did I. Alice Hoffman makes you feel for her and in spite of everything you root for her. Deep down we are all dreamers.

The Ice Queen is a book about life and death, and about love and hate. It is a book about secrets and their power to define us if we let them.

Secrets are only knowledge that hasn’t yet been uncovered… Therefore, they are not in fact secrets but only unrealized truth.

The Ice Queen is about all kinds of love – love between siblings (blood ties can’t be so easily dismissed), love between people who have survived the same thing, love between people who are married and their lives tied together in ways unimaginable and love that remains even when the object of affection has vanished into thin air. (Not literally true but I wanted to use it because I am feeling theatrical today!)

Feel lucky for what you have when you have it. Isn’t that the point? Happily ever after doesn’t mean happy forever. The ever after, what precisely was that? Your dreams, your life, your death, your everything. Was it the blank space that went on without us? The forever after we were gone?

The Ice Queen tells me things find their own way to fruition if it’s meant to be. And to have an open heart and appreciate the present. Nothing I didn’t know but how many of us actually live fully in the present?

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In between worlds

Pondering on what is real and what is not while rains lash on,when I’m neither asleep nor awake but in a world in between, in a dream like haze.

I’m steering back and forth 
between 
a dream filled reality
or sleep  
I know not. 
The rain has stopped 
but the growling thunder 
is a sign 
of what is to come. 
A gentle cool breeze 
is coming through the open window 
along with a fine spray.
The house is plunged into darkness 
the power as unreliable 
as the weather forecast. 
I only realize the true value 
of something 
when it is no longer within my grasp.
That is when I want to come back 
the bridge burnt
and the leap can’t be taken.
I listen to the birds gaily chirping 
in spite of the constant growling thunder.
A plane flew by desperate to land 
before the rain descends again. 
When the light comes 
I find its glare too harsh 
having been comforted by darkness
I have made my peace with it. 
I maybe afraid of it
but it has become my friend.