Category Archives: meaning

Laurie Halse Anderon’s Speak

 I saw Speak a while ago, the movie adaptation of the very acclaimed book of the same name by Laurie Halse Anderson, starring Kristen Stewart in the lead role. Despair not, it’s nothing like Twilight (to be fair to her, Twilight fans say that’s how Bella is, in which case excellent acting ) where she has only two expressions (longing and longing) but it doesn’t translate into emotion. She is so much more than a pretty prop. Incidentally I knew that she can act having seen her in the bit role I had seen her in Into the Wild (one book I must get back to again). She emotes with their silence which speaks volumes. The movie does justice to the absolutely brilliant YA novel that deals with teenage rape and depression, alienation as a result of it, very serious issues which parents, teachers and the society at large will rather not admit exist, forget dealing with it. I kept remembering stuff from the book, the lines from the book in the screenplay and the things they missed.

I always follow this rule of reading the book first if I can help it. Like most book lovers or bibliophiles (I don’t mind what you call us, we are what we are) if I know the movie is adapted from a book I prefer to read the book first (I had to wait for long periods for reading Speak) and it has always been rewarding because I get to build the world created in the book, and that joy every book lover knows. Of course on the minus side the movie usually (I thought of using the phrase ‘more often than not’ but now that I have read On Writing I feel King’s watching me) falls short of expectations, except the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I don’t know why so many people look down on YA. Trust me there are many. What you read popular fiction?! The term pop fiction is even more hideous. What’s wrong with the term contemporary fiction? Other than classics and books written by dead writers everything else they look down upon. Book snobs! They deal with real things in a real and sometimes not so grim manner, and do not put people to sleep so that their target audience actually does read and understand it. I was absolutely bowled over by Speak. Anderson is brilliant in the way she captures the voice of a teenager on the precipice of completely losing her sanity and spiralling into a quiet depression, and sinking into it but for her art teacher who gives her something to do that she enjoys, hence something to live for and she looks forward to stay in the land of living day after day.

It was first published in 1999 and five years later the movie followed in 2004. At first look the movie appears to tread a familiar territory because we have seen so many high school movies but it couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

The book cover had intrigued me for a long time and I took some time to be convinced about the story- I did not want to read about another victim who had thrown her life away. I liked Laurie Halse Anderson’s website, read her blog, bought the book and absolutely fell in love with the cover again, one of the most beautiful covers ever and waited. I believe every book finds you at just the right time. Another way of saying it unless I feel compelled to read something I don’t read it. I read it and it was literally life altering. The author interview at the back gave me some background to the book and the furore it created after its release.

She deliberately goes mute chooses not to say a word because when she tries to speak out the truth about what happened that summer nobody listens. It gnaws at her inside and she changes from a girl who lived life to just existing. She finally speaks out and she is the one who helps herself climb out from the horrific past and begins the process of acceptance as she tells herself that there is no point denying what happened. She is never going to forget it and the best way to deal with it is to confront it head on, which would someday eventually lead to healing.

The book is a must read. How come it doesn’t top favourite lists here isn’t exactly a surprise to me, it is because of the themes it deals with. I highly recommend it. Speak the book is more powerful than the movie. I will be talking about the book again soon. It’s been calling out to me again. Time for a reread.

You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.

You can’t speak up about your rights and be silent.

You need to  visit the mind of a great one- Picasso who saw the truth and ripped it from the earth with two angry hands. If something is eating at you, you have gotta find a way to use it.

A revolutionary is only as good as his analysis. Why? We should be able to shout out how things can be better.
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Thoughts on the characters in Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth

I found Here on Earth in a book fair I shouldn’t have gone to but went and, if gone,  I shouldn’t have bought anything which was not on my to-read list, but I did (or so I thought). I saw the cover and it instantly jumped out at me. I looked inside to convince myself to buy it, and off went my resolution. Finding it was accident, serendipity or chance, I don’t know. Neither did I know that I would read it over that weekend abandoning another great nonfiction book I was reading. The name seemed familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it till I came home. It was on my Goodreads to-read list. To think I had added it three years back and it has landed on my shelf only now, without me ever searching for it makes me want to attribute it to fate but I doubt Fate bothers itself with such puny things. Happenstance more like.

I never thought I would like magical realism, and lyrical prose usually annoys me but this was different. In a way it reminded me of The Last Song of Dusk, a book I had liked  but I wasn’t too keen on reading something like that in the near future. But a fair warning, this is not a romance. It is a cautionary tale of doomed love and obsession.

When we are young we believe in so many unrealistic things, like living in a fairytalish world, where everyone gets what they deserve, and every thing works out in the end. Alas, reality isn’t so simple or straightforward. It doesn’t matter if something is fated or not. It’s how we deal with what has happened and what we ultimately do.Here on Earth makes it amply clear.

There was a line in the book, which I cannot find now (I didn’t stop to copy lines until I was near the finish line), about lions and lambs being warm blooded, which chilled me to the bone. They are not as different as the world makes them out to be.  Predator and prey are their ecological roles but they belong to the same class (Mammalia). How could I, a student of biology, not have considered this fact before.

Alice Hoffman’s descriptions are otherworldly but felt so real that you want to believe every single word, and hope it doesn’t break your heart but it does. A thing which isn’t real can feel realer than the everyday reality (that we mostly choose not to dwell on). That is the power of fiction written from a honest place; I am surprised every time it shakes me up and makes me see things anew. Continue reading Thoughts on the characters in Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso

Of course it is happening inside your head,  Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Why the compulsion to share and form connections?
Why the hunger to be cared for?
Why the urge to love and be loved in return?
Why the need to understand the chaotic world and the people in it?
Why the urgency to be understood and be known exactly for who you are on the inside?
Why does life present to you on a silver platter the things you do not want or have never wanted?
Why the need to find answers when we know it’s all an illusion?

So many questions and no easy answers. In the grand scheme of things do the whys matter at all? They do. Every why matters because in seeking answers, we come one step closer to the truth and it’s something greater than we can comprehend and it will dawn on us when we are ready.

Pull-push of life

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. “A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle. “ Sounds like a wrestling match, I say. “A wrestling match.” He laughs. “Yes, you could describe life that way.” So which side wins, I ask? “Which side wins?” He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth. “Love wins. Love always wins.” ― Mitch AlbomTuesdays With Morrie

Chokher Bali is much more than a grain of sand !

A Grain Of Sand by Rabindranath Tagore
 What can I say about the book? I’m speechless, spell bound and God knows what else. Also my mouth was wide open in surprise many times during the book, which is pretty much equivalent to my jaw dropping to the floor. How do I feel? Oh that is difficult to answer because what I feel can’t be expressed in words (cliched yes but the truth nonetheless). I was mesmerized by the prose, reeling from the doings of the characters in it and overall just stuck in the gap between old and new worlds. Did I just write that? I suppose I did. This is why I don’t write book, movie or music reviews because I don’t really review it in the true sense of the word rather put up my jumbled thoughts on the matter (which is never even clear to me then how can it be clear to anyone else). Also, I end up gushing or hating (depends) and not saying anything important about it. Anyways there are people far more qualified than me to review so let’s leave it to them.

The book has given me loads of food for thought. I think I will be ruminating on it for ages. It made me  think- are we really modern ? After seeing the treatment and the dissection of  the psyche of women by Tagore during that time I’m not too certain of anything now. I already knew that he had a fine understanding about how a woman thinks and feels, I had gathered that from reading his lovely short stories. As everyone knows he was far far ahead of his time (my goodness, I really can’t get over it). He can give every modern author a run for his money.

This novel has lies, deception and so called illicit relationships that borders on scandalous but somehow it all feels natural. It was a page turner and totally unpredictable. Riveting. The emotional turmoil and the ministrations of all characters was so deftly expressed.It was nothing like I have read before. I had read many short stories and a poem( Upagupta)which I loved but this was the first novel I read by Tagore and I want more. I wonder how will it  feel to read it in Bengali, lovely I suppose more lyrical and more meaningful and the context more understandable. Sheer genius! I am looking forward to the movie version. I hope they don’t ruin it.

Two words-read it.

Stupid is as stupid does – Forrest Gump

OK so here I am. Back after ages ! It feels that way even though it hasn’t been quite that long (Theory of relativity anyone?). Either way does it really matter? It’s just enough that I’m back. So the question is what I have been doing with my time? I have two lovely excuses- one, I was ill. Two, I was depressed because of it, which, literally made me unfit of even thinking coherently. Though that’s stretching it a bit (I am not known as a drama queen without reason but that’s also where I get my sensitivity from and also microanalysing stuff!) it’s the honest truth. I can hear my friends scream psychosomatic disorder because of the things going on in the department which I admit was a blow to my self esteem and ego. It doesn’t help one bit when one feels useless on top being close to being an invalid(that’s an exaggeration). There’s no use talking about dignity, not now at least. One thing I do have is a clear conscience. Ergo, sleeping isn’t a problem , which is a relief.

I have been ill for quite a while now. Should I say I am on the path to recovery? Hell no, I don’t want to jinx myself. Oh laugh all you can. I never believed that either but the words have a strange way of getting right back at you, so in this fragile state I am not going to risk it. Although I’m no stranger to chronic illnesses one never does get quite used to it, the tragedy and the monotony of it.  I really wish I could put “it” at the back of my mind (like it’s nothing but a walk in the park with some lovely shoes on to protect my feet) and live unchanged, unscathed by battle scars so timidly fought. I so wish I had been gallant but don’t expect knightly behaviour from me, not when I am at my lowest ebb (really lousy explanation I know). Every little thing changes you and shapes you into being who you are and the process is never-ending and compelling and directional. You learn, you live and you grow and that’s that.

 Illness compels me to think more deeply than usual and I tend to get philosophical (more than the usual craziness). All the big questions start haunting(or is it hunting) me (since I can’t employ my usual devices and run away) and I almost suffocate with the need to answer them. This time it’s time, the final time to GROW UP. There won’t be another call. Either I’m on it fully or dangling off the edges, holding on for dear life or the plane leaves without me. Childhood has long passed and so have the teenage years. And I’m about to be done with university and step into the REAL WORLD (as people keep reminding me every single day). Gee am I that dumb and naïve? Seems that is what most people think( I wish I could care a flying fig about what they thought about me). Yes I’m stupid (at least the blog title is justified now).

What are the questions ,you ask? Nothing, just basic stuff.How far have I come? What have I achieved? What is my contribution to the world? Am I good at something?  What is the meaning of my life? What is my role? What does it all mean? Where does it all lead ,if it leads anywhere in the first place?  What is the connecting link? Is this supposed to make sense in the end, all the strings tied up neatly and knots removed?
I did try to write but who the hell wants to read all this, a mass of jumbled intangible thoughts? Hence, no post for months and add to that I have taken to meandering more than is usual (read acceptable). I start somewhere and end up completely different and in between touch some points which become the fodder of many other independent posts (or so I would like to believe so please humour me). So in the end there’s a lot of mish- mash and I end up not that satisfied with “the treatment of the matter and the way it is presented” and so it stays ( read languishes )in the drafts folder and pending till I decide it should be worked upon so that it sees the light of the day, which it seldom does.
Doesn’t make any sense, does it?
P.S. The drafts folder is overflowing so I have taken up the gargantuan and arduous task of emptying it in this life time. Alas, readers bear with me.
P.P.S.- If you don’t already know, the quote “stupid is as stupid does” is from Forrest Gump.

The crux of the matter

“It can never be necessary to do what is not honourable.”
— Oscar Wilde (An Ideal Husband)


“Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” 
 Dean Koontz (Odd Hours)


“I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness. In reality those who satisfy me are those who simply allow me to live with my ”idea of them.” ― Anaïs Nin






Living the quote

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” — Gilda Radner

Notes of the diary on the diarist

What does she keep scribbling in me all the times?Not that I’m complaining(in fact I love it) I’m always there for her,after all that’s my job.Though the world considers us to have no feelings(being inanimate and all) I feel every stab of pain and every whoop of happiness by the words she chooses to write in me.

I like it when she takes her time and writes lovingly in me caressing the pages and feeling each and every word.The cool handwriting,the light slant of the pen shows me that she’s happy and good memories are being recorded.When the writing is irregular and sloppy and too much pressure is put on my delicate pages and its more scribbling than writing, I know she’s troubled and something bad has happened,which she is letting out of her system the only way she can.I feel sad when she gets like this but I’m relieved that she has me to help her get through any trying time in her life.She goes on and on for pages and pages and I know the end is near when her grip is not that hard and she writes at a slower pace, steadily empty of all negativity and almost always ending on a hopeful note.That’s one of the things I like best about her.She will start out a cynic and end a dreamer which is the only thing definite about her.All other things keep changing.She’s really mutable.A human yo yo would be more apt.One day she’s on cloud nine and the next day she’s down in the dumps,both because of the very same incident.What changes, then, is her perspective which is inextricably linked with her mood,the prism through which she views things and which colours everything.I really wish she’d be more optimistic and also more pragmatic.I worry about her but I know as long as she writes she will be just fine because that is the way she deals.

I wish she would write about her good days more.Not that there aren’t many good days but that she writes very few sentences about them(in comparison to the bad days) and ends them very soon.I wish I could change that.Not because I want to hear about good things more,I  just want her to have vivid memories of good things so that she can go back to them later and relive them.They will be her guiding light,her beacon,her light at the end of the tunnel or her silver lining,whatever you choose to call it, in the tough dark times and bleak moments.And of course it is the only thing that’s worth its weight in platinum  when warm feelings of nostalgia envelope her.

More on her idiosyncrasies later.