Another year gone by. Shiny new racquets sitting in the cupboard never fail to remind me that I need to take charge of my life. Take a chance they (the racquets, not the voices in my head) scream. We are lonesome. Badminton is tailor made for our times – a socially distanced sport.
Some things pass you by because you didn’t try hard enough. At the surface it would seem like that (there are always underlying factors) but some of it is true. While waiting for a partner last year the universe intervened (thanks pandemic). I will have to be a quiet athlete (thank you for the term Susan Cain), if I have to be fitter! Next time I will definitely play a sport but when the time comes I talk myself out of it like the sleepy me does when the alarm beeps every morning at 515 AM. I always tell myself I will run/cycle/dance but I end up just walking.
I love my solo walks. There was a time when I couldn’t walk much so I feel truly joyful when I take a walk around the park or the forested roads beyond my neighbourhood and catch the moonrise, sunrise or sunset or just sit under the inky skies. They are one of the few things that make me feel alive (and connected to the world at large) these days and, of course, drinking copious amounts of coffee.
The days are longer now, summer is here, and the spring was virtually nonexistent. It is the oddest things we hold on to what connects us to our childhood selves. Badminton is just one of the many. The things we enjoyed as children and could perhaps enjoy as an adult, refresh some memories to help navigate the uncertain present.
The racquets continue to sit on the shelf gathering dust. The time for playing badminton is long gone the adult me thought but the kids in my neighbourhood beg to differ. You see, they don’t quite believe in the rules we so easily accept. They truly understand the meaning of carpe diem, and continue to play badminton seizing opportunities when there is no wind during hot windy days, and cool breezy evenings during this unprecedented summer. This is the stuff that optimism is made of, and which self help books can’t really teach. The pandemic was there last year too, and maybe we are getting better at dealing with our disappointments. Sometimes keeping our expectations in check has to be done when survival is the endgame.
Like there is a difference between unease and sickness, there is a difference between emptiness and stillness. The moments of stillness feel complete in themselves and they have a calming effect on you (dare I use the word recharge?), like you are at peace, if not one with the world (that’s too much to ask for). With emptiness, you feel as if there is a gaping void in your life, and it leaves you feeling drained. You don’t know the why or how of it, only that something has to change. Simple really, but it takes a lifetime to know the difference, as always is the case with what appears to be the most obvious on the surface.
Miss me? Not really is the short answer. For the long answer read below.
I do but I don’t want to deal with all the things that follow in your wake. It’s a chore and like blizzards always intense. Why is it never sunny? It was a deadly winter and I need to survive.
Why so many lies or omissions of truth, in your words? Why promises that you won’t keep and had never intended to keep in the first place, made only for the sake of making yourself look good?
I catch myself thinking you would like Inspector Montalbano or tell you that I found peace in volunteering. I wanted to tell you the person who loved me most in the world was dying and ask you what the right thing to do was. But I could never get past how formal and cold we had become. And you had never shown any interest before in spite of knowing the circumstances. So I absolve myself from all guilt.
It doesn’t matter now because I have seen through you. Perhaps there is a price you pay for being naive stupid. Believing you was my Achilles heel. The amazing thing is the disbelief because I am not usually the kind of person who gets caught up in this kind of drama. You proved me wrong yet again and my only consolation is for everything in life there is a first time (and hopefully a last time).
Why is there never a straight answer but only roundabout clues? It’s a maze I am tired of navigating and red herrings I am tired of dodging. You probably think people have a lot of time on their hands to brood over things. Let me correct you. They don’t. Survival takes precedence. Wading through your mess without complaining, I laugh to myself thinking about it now. Didn’t anyone tell you I don’t even like getting my feet wet and here I am drowning. I don’t even know how I got here. Oh wait you knew I disliked it yet continued to pour water saying it will quench my thirst.
What’s the use of saying pretty please, listen to me? What will I do with it, you selfish pig? Once someone tells you truth, instead of acknowledging it, you wave it aside and walk away only to come back to stomp on their hearts later. I wish you would vanish into the unknown never to be seen. Wait, that’s not completely true. In this age of social media I check if you are alive by stalking you online like normal people.
I found Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson in the book fair and promptly grabbed it. The book was on my list of books (and author) to explore though I am well past the age the book is intended for. What can I say my inner child/teen continues to live on. I have a few other books by her too but this was the one that beckoned me. You know how it is. Some books you have had for ages but they sit on shelves for eons before they get read and a new book catches your eye and gets instantly picked up (I can almost hear all the old books grumble at the newcomer who made it with the least sweat. Unfair life is even books know that!). I can never understand how the timing works. I guess our subconscious knows what it wants at a certain point in life and goes for it.
Violet is naive (annoyingly so!) for a 13 year old. The book was published in 2003 and that’s got something to do with it, I think. It was the time when cellphones weren’t ubiquitous yet and people still wrote letters to authors instead of stalking them or talking about/to them online. Violet adores reclusive author Casper Dream, the author of the beautifully illustrated fairy books and writes to him regularly. She loves the fictitious universe created by him. She draws inspiration from his books and sews fairy dolls. As you can see she isn’t your boisterous teen but quiet and artistic. Midnight offers interesting insights into the mind of a writer and on creating imaginary worlds which appealed to me greatly.
Violet has two ‘friends’ but she can’t identify with them. Whereas her brother Will is good looking and the entire school thinks he is cool. She looks up to him and adores him in spite of his snide comments and rudeness. Violet and Will are only a few years apart. It is apparent he cares for Violet but he never let’s a chance to take the Mickey out of her go.
Their father doesn’t like Will’s choices, and he in turn is constantly at loggerheads with him. We see Will after he knows a distrubing secret so there could be something to Will’s recklessness. Will is an intriguing character but I was always wary of him. Their mother is a docile woman and allows her husband to run roughshod over her. He’s taken for granted that his wife will do her job, regardless of how he treats her.
Violet’s life changes when the new girl in the school, Jasmine, who cares two hoots about fitting in, takes a shine to her. She cannot believe her luck. She adores everything about Jasmine – her spirit, her house and her family. Best friends fall in love with each other. It is an intense little place and I know that space well. Violet is an oddball whereas Jasmine is a popular kid. Is Jasmine truly her friend or something else is going on?
As I read I felt uneasy about certain things and I can hazard a guess as to how my teenage self would have reacted. The writing is good and the author is magnificent at building an atmosphere. Though at the heart of the story is Violet, a girl obsessed with fairies and fairy stories and the author who writes them, it’s not for younger readers. People expecting fantasy would be disappointed. This is as real as it gets for the intended age group! I thought it was clever how subtly the author showed bitter realities of the world which won’t affect younger readers but older readers will see it for what it is.
I like the quirky illustrations by Nick Sharratt which match the dark tone of the book.