Into the caverns of memory

……Books, quotes, poetry, words, images, music, conversations, people, laughter, sorrow, belonging– things that I discover fresh from my memories. Umberto Eco makes me want to dwell into the many confines of events that now lay bundled together in my brain. Sometimes, rain does this- invokes a melancholy of people and bygone events. Music also makes me wander into the deep recesses of my dreams and nostalgia stored away. I remember a time when I thought travel was the ultimate way of getting away from stress and the mundane chaos of everyday life. But even this illusion broke its wings quickly. I realised and understood that travel couldn’t substitute for the longing I felt in my heart for things unknown. It was just another route on the way to discovering ourselves, a means to say.

Sometimes after reading auto-biographies I fall in awe of all these greats who could remember great details from their early lives or perhaps, they had made notes of it. What an absurd thought that a child would scribble notes about an amusing anecdote happening to him so that he could revive it back as an adult in some book! Well, but absurdities are what make us human. Life is like the ear wax- sometimes unwanted trash gets accumulated but we are too lazy to get rid of it and sometimes we can hardly await till we throw away anything that slightly feels like the beginning of trash accumulation. Interestingly, our own bizarre self disagrees with itself, a bit too violently about stepping into the unknown and uncomfortable. The ground forces a fierce battle with the sky when we wish to reach towards it unprepared and aimless. At times like these when I feel vague place- holders on my life, it angers me first, then my mind starts counter-arguments, then I calm down and look at it through a stranger’s eyes to find that it comforts me a lot to know that not everything is wrong. I am not going to blame myself for all failures, but neither am I placing the blame on others. Sometimes, we just need to disown these situations and moments where everything seems to go wrong. I mean there is hardly ever a perfect time when everything goes smooth and we feel like top of the game because Shakespeare articulated it simply and brilliantly that this too, shall pass.

What a great amount of secrets and lies do we conceal in our memories! And it feels so natural to do. If we could see through the foggy mirrors that are standing against us, we will know that everything is invisible, even our genteelness. All that we ever see reflected in people’s goodness and kindness for us is not for our own virtues and qualities but just a reflection of their own inherent good naturalness. It’s true when they say that children are the most honest and non-corrupt beings because they haven’t learnt the misfortunes and barter systems in life at that age. How I wish this stayed true with us adults as well? Is it ever possible to let go of material desire and feel the ray of unadulterated calm and peace within? My memory holds all those grudges and sorrowful miseries which mean nothing at the end of the day when we evaluate their importance in our life. It’s strange that there are statistics that suggest most humans only use 10% of their brains and about 0.5% of their memory in their lifetime. Who does all this account keeping and why is every individual supposed to surpass or stay within these numbers? We put ourselves in barricades all the time, first as gender, then as individual beings and finally as the class system merges in society. This clubbing is harming our prospects as beings that could be more than our collective gender forms and race and colour and nationalities.

I always get amused at this coincidence that my memory betrays my thoughts only to later come back to embrace the various emotional upheavals I go through in my heart. There is some sadistic pleasure that misery puts us through only we can’t decipher it then. Why else would chocolate or fresh flowers or rain give so much happiness to a majority of people and gadgets or luxury make a handful miserable? We shall find answers when we ask the right questions.

 

My Friday Musings

Some days the only text messages I receive on my phone are from the Zumba group I happily and dare say, religiously dance with five days a week. They are not even directed towards me, only some regular forwards, jokes, some promotional jewellery and meditation cum well-being workshop events. At times, I really detach myself from everything that goes around. DO we ever realise the information overload we are sending back into the universe every single minute, all of us 7 billion people? I may have expressed this thought here before and I am doing it yet again. A very random stranger who has become a familiar acquaintance on Instagram texted me the other day urging me to write a bestseller and that I am a genius. These words coming from someone who only knows me from some regular interaction virtually over books, photographs and rants, separated by a physical distance of thousands of miles and oceans between us, humbled me. Happiness comes unexpectedly. Her words made me happy, gave me a reason to feel good about myself. People who are able to transcend over their kindness and personal goodness are the ones who bring real joy in this world. Otherwise, all of us have become so cynical about being happy or even being capable of generating happiness.

Why do we complicate our lives to such varying degrees? I’ve just had a heady realisation of how much more I need to work hard to ace something that has become an obsession for me. It’s difficult to stay motivated for a continuous span of time and I keep flitting between those spans a lot. Speaks something about the distractions railing and caging us, every second of the day.

We, the Mankind, have become cynical. We are jumping up our bones into pushing everything that’s hypothetical into reality. If only we let the Universe provide for everything, let it take care of itself and us, we would stop pinning each other with imaginary darts. I have rediscovered humour as one of the simplest and most effective things that lits up everyone’s day. It brings back sunshine and laughter, like butterflies spreading their magic with each flight. It’s amusing when I get that feeling of enlightenment within a room, a crowd, pages of books, on a street, staring headily at the sea. It’s endless the way our everyday life can surprise us if we give it and ourselves a chance of seeing it as it is. No dissection, no analyses, no criticism. Just pure love for being alive, for breathing, for feeling the way we do. Sometimes I am dazzled by the moments I witness and I wish I could prolong that awesomeness and although it passes by quickly, I bathe in its extended nicety for a long time. This revelation makes it worthwhile to go strong everyday into a world that’s not designed to make everyone feel happy. But that’s fine too. We have Tolstoy and Dylan Thomas and Transtromer to uplift our saggy spirits about finding joy.

Tete-a-Tete with life

I severely despise drama, melodrama, malaise of all kinds. And yet here I am spending an October Saturday in misery over the way people can’t deal with their problems. Anger and Anxiety are going to be the death of this world. Just last night the news reported a survey of 31% officegoers suffering from office related stress in my city. I actually feel that number is at least 91%! If only all of us learnt to live (and, lie alternately) in harmony and in unison, there would be no stress and participation in such grizly surveys. But, this is life and we are the saddest lot in it. Unfortunately, I am not in my very best spirits to write here, but in the hopes that writing shall cure me of my endless suffering, here I unleash my fury at the world (and, myself!).

Just today morning, I told a friend that “all conditioned things are impermanent,” and while it is true generally, today it doesn’t feel so. Somehow, hatred and anger and vile things have become a permanence in our meagre lives. All the lies we tell ourselves about being bitter about our disappointments and the resentments from all the grudges carried in our hearts and minds, day long, day out are excuses to assure of this impermanence we cannot see otherwise with eyes wide open. Imagine being in a position where we challenge our core beliefs to see them being put up on a pedestal and then see them crashing down to a million pieces. It hurts a lot. But the good thing about growing up is that we cease to cling to this hurt. We just don’t care about it anymore. Perhaps only a reminder of how fast things change pace and events fall into their cosmic cycle.

Why do we complicate everything to an extent where it’s impossibly saddening to return and make amends? This pattern of falling into the spiral of good and bad and all the moments in between is mind boggling. Once I think about it from a very distant perspective then, I realise the folly of it all; us judging, weighing, scaling through life’s many moments to land up one spectacular bright speck into the shining galaxy of our existence. How miniscule our affections and minsitrations fare amidst this sorrow pool of eternity! Not cynically but I often dwell upon these phases when life wears me down. One way of undoing everything would be to give ourselves to this universe wholeheartedly and not bother with the stings it gives back. There is happiness, although, albeit it is only a state of mind and like every other emotion it stays for a while but brings brightness and leaves a sunshine in darkness for us to remember later. How wonderful would it be if we learned to give, accept and take in the most passive flicking momentum the atoms could! What are we if not a bouncing bunch of atoms colliding with each other and secretly nurturing and nourishing these collisions? I take so much pride in little moments done right, even when I know there will be a time when none of this will stay with me, not in my memories, not in permanence. It’s the anticipation of cherishing the speckled brilliance for as long as it takes that keeps me going. How I wish we were simple beings simply coexisting with nature and not having to deal with this complexity and contradiction that marrs us all the time!

I have to mention how angry and in a disarray my mind was at the beginning of this saturday rant and how peaceful if not less disarrayed my mind feels right now. Writing is the greatest therapy. May we all always remember that this life is transitory and that being here and living it well is the best we could do. Cherish yourselves, cherish your loved ones, cherish those who make a difference to you, cherish those who need some love and are grateful when offered, spread the cheer and be happy! We only get to live once and be young once. Why not make the most of it when offered? May our love reach and change our own depths of understanding for all beings.

 

New World Order

It’s one of those days, you know, when you are feeling low and your self-esteem is at a real zero, that the universe provides hope in unexpected forms. With me this happened in the form of postcards, not one, two or three but ELEVEN of them. My Dad bought the post on his way back home and I almost cried with joy to see them all.

What makes a random activity like postcrossing really click with people and invest their time in sending postcards with messages to strangers all over the world? I believe, it is the necessity to claim humanity, to claim the love that is lost in the vast sea pool of hatred, discrimination and diversity. The more connected the world has become, the faster we have lost our shroud of humanity. We are increasingly being divided on the basis of race, color, religion, economy, culture, geography and politics, of course! Our conscious collaborative is not working amidst high powered business economies and commercial profit ventures. People who come from diverse backgrounds are no longer celebrating this diversity but are being subjected to their differences leading to an unbalanced socio-cultural indifferent platform all over the world. No longer do we cherish simple activities like stopping by a streetside to hear someone play music or talk to each other on public transport. Our jealousies based on gender biases has also taken a worse turn in cultures that ironically supported and cherished women’s emancipation movements. That is why, a free platform like POSTCROSSING works in this global multitude of regions and cultures that still have people present in minority who wish to connect with the world.

I know I make it a mission to just write about the positive that is dominant in our world and rightly so we all must. Afterall, we are all the same underneath our different costumes, our tongues, our music and dance and our laughter! Do we not perk up to see a child laughing freely and unrestrained on a crowded train? Do we not turn heads at the sound of music in a public arena? I believe, us, humans, are really connected on a deeper level with cultural elements and especially music! When I see people writing cards and sharing their favourite music, it makes me feel akin to them however the distance. These are people who perhaps I will never meet but are kind enough to share a slice of their lives and themselves in  ten lines or so on a small postcard. Isn’t it a beautiful sentiment to have evoked a sense of unity among strangers all over the world? Why else would children, teens, young men and women, professionals, older people connect themselves with snailmail that takes sometimes sixty days to reach their intended locations due to postal constraints? I am amazed at this patience people showcase for an activity like this. But then, we also deal with the negative world that lies and occupies another half of our planet. A world where minorities are trampled, women are placed under patriarchal dictatorships, economies are crushed by autocratic rulers and the lives of so many millions displaced, distressed and devastated due to the ugly greed of giant corporations and first world economies usurping their power over weaker nations. The growing disparities between rich and poor, religious minorities within Europe, OPEC and rest of the world and the rise of militant and fascist dictatorships is a cause of concern if we wish to see our calenders go beyond the year 2030.

Even with all this hullabaloo and chaos of an unstable world, I have met people who surprisingly harbour a great positive outlook towards human race and its progress. There are optimists who believe and cheer for change in people, in governments that rule with an iron fist. Among our technology obsessed and interactive display driven lives, we still find time to write to each other and send it to strangers across seas and nations. We still find time to read books and discuss them passionately even on online mediums like Instagram which is strictly seen as a photography website. The world is closer than ever and perhaps also at the same time stretched afar. How we bridge this distance speaks a lot for our future generations who shall have difficult legacies to carry forward!

The Future is only Fiction

I am writing this in response to a very fetching interview I read in one of my email subscriptions today. Just a few days ago, I was moaning about unread emails and yet in the past few days, I’ve been reading quite a few articles from a mammoth sea of subscriptions I was sure I wanted to unsubscribe. Sometimes, reading too much makes us lose interest in the actual things we ought to read. Like last week, a new friend asked me if I had read Virginia Woolf and how did I find her writing style. To her, Virginia was morose, depressed, boring and confusing. She said, she gave up reading her in college. Now, it’s completely subjective but I do firmly believe that our reading evolves over time as we grow, particularly more so in phases that we seem to be struggling with educating ourselves, polishing our understanding of the world and stocking up on our views, basically that we have no clue when we would be spouting. So it happens that in trying to cross check our political views with the current undergoing in the world, we sometimes come off as the ones who are negative about what a lot of people around us feel positive. It’s not bad. It happens. If it weren’t happening, then perhaps we would need a reality check about the worth of our opinions.

Let me not veer away from what I wish to write. The world seems broken, actually it is. There are narratives written about it and people are speaking of their personal experiences of love and hate, discrimination and prejudices, of marginalised lives, the struggle to survive, just plain living in a world that shows nothing but disdain towards their lives and them. Someone writes about being broke and finding a copy of The Paris Review left behind by a reader and they read it while sitting on a rotten staircase, about voices that are singular, angry, broken, funny and sad, all at the same time. And I connect instantly with these voices. Because I understand being penniless, I know the pain of trying and not succeeding, of being miserable about circumstances that do not look promising, of failing expectations and carrying their massive burden on my shoulders. Yet, here I am, not giving up on the spirit that drives me far when nothing seems right, when there’s no light. It’s a constant churn of life’s flailing challenges that beckon us, question and urge us to get back on our feet. How can we not believe the shining speck that resides within us and is the single most reason we carry on every day? It is just a little thing that needs to get our attention away from the discouraging forces spewing their hatred toward us. It’s a blanket with a double sided texture on it. One is coarse and prickles; the other is soft and warms us when we bury our mindful selves along with the many aspirations we possess. It’s like a chain mail of unnecessary products meant to tempt and entice us into wasting our attention rather than engaging on the things we ought to surround ourselves with for our supposed elevation according to standards set by a few individuals. Perseverance is the key to success, rightly so. It is in this obsession and confidence that in itself feels like a departure from the many specifics of our daily lives. All of us need daily affirmations for believing and surviving Mondays (for some). Our many feelings of recognition that constantly has us climbing imaginary walls that involve behavioural and moral lessons usually guiding us on our best show put on for an audience who is as clueless as we are. It all begins in the mind and ends up on the being.

I’m Virginia for my friend since she’s the one we’ve talked about for two days of a week that sees us going through many events and places. Oblivious of the literary journey of interweaving people of character into our messy lives, I am always a tad bit happy when it happens. Discussions on photographs that completely bedazzle me; I ask questions and get exhilarated when I receive answers from total strangers. Isn’t that a wonder that one giant web of information technology is allowing me to ponder my heart’s musings into opinions without caring about judgements? The revolution that has taken us all by its little fingers is here to stay and create many more striking arrays of visual deliverance that we will be tongue tied to talk about in whispers. It worried me earlier that the concept of time and future that has played havoc in many a lives, was confusing me and throwing me into roads that jumbled on their own, leaving me hapless. It is but merely a cloud that passes as soon as the nebula starts to threaten its brilliantly lit spectre on the horizon. I could never be you, as you could never be me. We’ll always leave a different trail of colours behind us. I remember the moment of first seeing Jackson Pollock’s dripping canvas art photographs in a library book some afternoon when I was alone with only the whirl of the overhead fan for my company. It looked trivial, just a mess of paint, and the enormous luxury of owning that truth. What happens to all this creative, non-essential bubble of information we are leaving behind us each single day? Is it a respite from the social drudgery we’ve invented into a spool of ongoing nonstop activity that fills up our time here? Questions like these often deserve answers that originate within each individual. We live fictionalised lives, and every past, present and future remains heavily gilded with its edges trimmed carefully to fit most of us, comfortably.

 

The Place beyond the Pines

Take your broken heart, make it into art.

I feel utterly foolish, for believing that we are always able to guide our way into something we want. I think it is the result of blind trust into too many bookish aphorisms I’ve been reading since as long as I remember. The thing with misery, self-doubt, anger, hatred, aggression is that it all originates within us when we learn that no one else can put enough faith in us as a person, apart from ourselves. And even that little self-belief we have been pumping into ourselves starts to wane. We should bother less about the world and more about our individual lives because who cares? What is happening to the world out there apart from our little personal worlds is far bigger and will always continue. That’s a harsh fact said but it’s true. Someone I look up to, recently (read) 22 hours ago, said this to me. I understand frustration. Who doesn’t? We are living in the worst times ever. Even Dickens would agree there’s hardly anything nice or good about the times we are living in.

Enough with my world charade. I am truly distressed today. A very negative, uncertain energy keeps hovering in the air I breathe. I can feel the uncertainty, the tension, the spark that threatens to blow up this tentative thin sliver of peace surrounding me. I hate it. Hate being in it. I don’t know what I have a bigger distaste for- using a strong word such as Hate or just disillusioning myself into writing about it here. I dislike this state of nerving. It puts me into an unnecessary position where I can’t express my anger or at the least display it physically. Years of being a tolerant, quiet, mute spectator to some of the worst episodes of emotional and mental rage I’ve personally been involved in, I feel quite like putting up a show, every year, spaced a few months in between. No amount of self-loathing from the previous years prepares me for yet another episode of tension crackling underneath my (already scared) nerves.

Times like these are when I think of all the “supposed” motivational thoughts shared and some forwarded to me on my phone. DO words actually, ever, really hold ANY meaning at all? Apart from when we feel like a messiah and are throwing them away grandly to others? That old adage of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes before we do something that hurts or destroys people resonates strongly than ever. We get hurt. We hurt others. There’s too many hurtful words thrown around in the heat of anger. We despise the situations. We forget or not-so-forget them over time. Sometimes this hurt comes back unexpectedly, in our dreams, in the daylight, in moments of halfhearted celebrations of joy. We can’t seem to bury them anymore than the moment we pushed them away. I used to feel at peace and calm after writing my tribulations, not so anymore. Words are indeed, cheap. But Alas, it was me who once upon a time greatly believed in the power and value of words. I think I still do just not with that burning conviction. Time is running out. For what? For pleasing this society of humans we are a part of and must abide by their customary time line that dictates our ability to be a member of community living. Yes, we are born to fulfil these grand roles cut out for us even before we are formed. The decision is made. Do not challenge it. Perish if you can’t sustain the life. Wither away little by little, admonishing your inabilities while the world celebrates the success of perfect people.

Life as we know it

I guess a lot of things happening lately have put my mind onto a thinking wheel a bit too much. I have been thinking a lot about the sappiness of everyday life and moments that I reflect upon time to time. Suddenly everything seems to have grown in vision. There are things I wouldn’t consciously dwell upon but which are now making their presence felt inside my mind. I keep thinking of possibilities of doing either this or something else that might come along. ‘Might’ as I must remind myself. The uncertainty of happenings is weighing a heavy hand on my heart. I keep hoping and dreaming about ‘that’ something which will satisfy and satiate my passion but I can’t seem to pinpoint as to what it really is. Will I ever lead myself towards it or keep floating on the edges outside praying for an entry? I don’t know when I turned into this person who thinks that things will automatically happen on their own. They never do and never will. I will have to spearhead them on my own. And I feel that push is missing in me right now. The more I think about how times are changing, the more I look back at ten years ago, I realise this is all they call Life. It is so simple really if we think about it. All we need to do is act upon our unresolved feelings and carry on with it. But….

Everything that is happening around us, in the little worlds we inhabit and the larger globe, is incomprehensible. One can’t help but feel if this is how our life history will be inundated with events that totally mar our choices and expectations of a safer living atmosphere. If this is the best time to live according to science and technological standards, then why are we still miserable? Why are we still fighting wars, and choosing fascist powers back in authority to rule the world? When news of Aleppo being bombed gets printed every other day in newspapers, I wonder why nobody takes it anymore seriously than discussing about celebrities or movies or other random less important things. I suffer from a terrible heartbreak every moment I realise how fortunate I am to be in the safe confines of this nation whereas there are kids who sit within their houses permanently in fear being bombed and killed whilst struggling to read and dream of the magical world of Harry Potter, not very far from me. I wake up everyday here in peace, laughing, going about my life each day with moments of happiness and being able to witness the change of seasons, simple things like enjoying the warmth of the sun, whereas there are a million others right now who live under this constant fear of not being able to make it to the next day. Do their dreams not matter anymore? Have we become so aloof of this real world that we prefer to bask in our virtual worlds full of merriment and happy smiley photographs? How long will kids be told by their parents that all this will be over and they will soon join their friends and go to school and movies and everything that is normal? It is a great travesty to be fooled by all the commercialised glossiness that corporations still believe we can be wooed with amidst all this disarray and chaos of living. My mind is in a tizzy, thinking of all the suffering in the world that demands far more attention than a single individual’s daily problems.

I cannot not overlook this mess of a situation we call life. We mourn for a while when people die in terrorist attacks but what about those who die each day in planned wars undertaken by the big powers in our world right now? First, there were the World Wars, then came the Cold War and now this big seemingly unending blood thirsty Oil and Mass Weapons War. We would have thought we learned from history. Clearly our focus is not on peace but a super control and for what? I can’t see the prize money. Are we really waging wars on poorer nations because we can’t let go past our insecurities? Or are there bigger threats looming over our heads we are oblivious of? These are the worst times to live throughout the history of mankind. Everything that could have gone wrong has been done with and yet we live each day anticipating the worst that shall hit us. And yet we find means to carry forward the laughter, the light that could outshine the darkness that hovers our world. We regale ourselves with the hope that all this could be tidied up. Yes, hope springs eternal. Such is life.

 

Forward March

Suddenly I’ve started feeling envious of all the 24 year-old youngsters. Not that I’m old compared to them, but I wish I WERE 24 today to possess the same energy, liveliness and excitement to do things. With these thoughts I was reeking in a wee bit misery last night, when I ended up reading late at night, a seminal text from 1911 written by Emma Goldman titled, Marriage and Love. It’s an unfortunate reality that society even today in the second decade of this 21st century pressures people and especially women into undergoing choices that are out of their will. Goldman writes succinctly about the institution of marriage and child rearing as these were considered the only circle in a woman’s life back then. The difference between texts and essays written by feminists from all the decades from the suffragette movement is that each one of them clearly expresses their anger and resolve to create a new inclusive world for women instead of disappointment and helplessness at the slow pace of the events that changed the course of politics around the world. Imagine this changed world with little improvements yet for women who still have to fight for legislation for Abortions, Planned Parenthood, Reproductive rights and ownership of their bodies. What would these feminists had they lived long enough think about the current state of women in the world today? Certainly, not a very encouraging scenario from how they started the movement. Isn’t it tragic in a way that we as society still link marriage and love together in a vain connection whose onus solely depends on a woman’s conduct, both inside and outside the home? What are men doing if not put us under a burden of their patriarchal diktats further pushing us away from liberation and freedom for our individual selves? Even today, as I write here, I see and hear talk of marriage as the sole highest point of achievement for women. Not even urban women are spared from the third party decisions took on their behalf for their well-being by people who perhaps don’t understand the pace of their lives any more. If only, as society we let individuals be themselves without any inter-dependence on these age-old institutions and perceived moral cages of social order, the planet would be a definite better place to live for men and women alike.

My thought trail kept on treading too many a different topics. I realised that at age 24, I did not have the luxury of dwelling on the many ideas and ventures I do now. Also, don’t we always pine for the past days and long for them in the belief that it was the best time of our lives regardless of whatever else is happening now in the present? With every bygone year, I keep an account of my foolish and wise ways, of the many good and not-so-good things that have happened in my life, my emotional strength and mental spirit that carries me through everything. In doing so, I believe that we grow in our capacities towards being better than we ever are and could be. Every change is after all an ever-evolving process towards progress. It’s a forward march always!

Awakenings!

Sometimes I feel like a lamb. Mostly, I try to be a lioness! This is so strange that we keep up pretences to convince ourselves and maybe, others too, that EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT! But is it? What is it that makes us become these different individuals than who we really are? Because we are all searching ourselves in this big crowd of a world.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I think I have just fallen in love with who I am as a person. Do I sound narcissistic? I mean, there are times when we don’t like ourselves. I was probably dwelling on the same feelings. I no longer do. The events that changed this thinking are fairly normal, everything that happens with a regular person. I met new people because of work, got out of my shell, realised the love that lies outside in the world and here I am, all new and fresh as a dew! It’s wonderful, like an elixir that’s working on me right now. Good people always bring the best in us! I also saw a movie I had been told about long ago. It was so simple and heartfelt that I couldn’t be any more grateful than I am now to have watched it albeit a little later. I also happened to attend this most amazing workshop ever on Accessibility for the Visually Challenged. The experience not just made me more optimistic about being myself as an enlightened individual about living life but made me feel eternally grateful about being alive and healthy and an absolutely privileged individual.

When I do think of all the irregularities we see and come across our daily routine, it makes me wonder if in running after our dreams and carving out an existence, has made us forget the essentials of being humans with the capacity to sense and love and feel emotions? Have we stopped being sensory to little things like holding hands and feeling the touch and warmth of the people we try to gauge everyday or are we really becoming ignorant to the pleasures of taking in the aura of people we meet? I do feel very, very happy to have become awakened to this new sensation about myself. I am overwhelmed to have met like-minded individuals, who I was discussing about with another friend are such rare species to find, just a couple of days ago. She said, why don’t we come across and maintain lifelong relations with people who share our thoughts and mind? I remember replying, variety is spice of life to which she let out a big sigh. So here is the beginning of meeting not just like minded individuals who share our anxieties and our concerns for the world but who truly are immersed in the very dynamic association of leading lifelong friendships for the better of everyone they meet and touch lives. I feel hopeful about being able to influence and be influenced by people of as diversified vocations as I take a keen interest in. It’s thrilling to be part of this beautifully intense, chaotic, neurotic yet a desirable world only because of all these spirited people.

Camus on a rainy day

I started reading The Outsider by Albert Camus last night after a not-so-great reading week. It dawned upon me as I started going further in the book that this was about a man, a young bloke who is seemingly unambitious about his life. I instantly wanted to shut the book and stack it away from my reach. While we all know that Camus’s writing is depressing as hell, this book particularly came as a surprise to me. The young man who perhaps mirrors a life most of the people live, subconsciously, mostly to just fill their stomachs, work the grind of eat, sleep, earn money, raise families and then die, here this young man doesn’t seem to have a purpose in living. He works at a small office, is unresponsive to work in the manner that when his boss asks him about shifting to and working in Paris to head operations of their office, he declines the opportunity. The woman who he is friends with asks him if he’ll marry her and he replies saying if she wants marriage he’ll marry her. There is no love, passion, or a burning desire in him to spearhead his life in the way most hot-blooded young people do. He is surrounded by depressing and utterly miserable neighbours, one of whom is an old man with an old species of a dog that keeps barking; another is a frustrated man who keeps a mistress and then gets jitters on spotting a group of Arab men among whom one is the brother of his mistress who might thrash him for ill-treating her. Algiers has a dry hot climate which means the author completely took advantage of the fact that such a depressing setting would naturally have characters who live sorrowful lives. All of this is terribly miserable and I didn’t want to associate this misery into my life especially when I feel the dull rains are already creating a not-so-pleasant atmosphere where I live, putting me into a foul mood for hours at a stretch.

I have never hated the rains with such a dramatic intensity as I am hating it this season. Usually Camus’s writing which I associate with depression anyway, perks up the thinker (if I may say so) in me. I had also begun reading The Plague last month when a friendly bookseller gave his beloved copy to me seeing my love for Camus. I have to write here that even the most dreary landscapes have come alive in my imagination but the ones mentioned in The Plague just refused to get away from my eyes. I dreamt about plague ridden ancient citadels of Rome for weeks at end. Something about ancient cities and their perishing reasons that come down to either geographical or biological upheavals has me interested for a long time. But my reluctance to focus on Camus’s writing in either The Plague or The Outsider has got to do with his basic premises of treating the subjects. As a young woman who looks towards life with passion and soul, I abhorred Mr. Meursault’s character for its lifeless and cold attitude. I might just as well start resenting existential crisis solely for the reason of having read Camus’s extreme characters who don’t fit in society. I know that is the point of his writing but I have this sliver of hope for everyone who shows signs of instability and boredom with their lives that they can shape their existence in a better way if they take it upon themselves rather than giving it up altogether on destiny and fate. I am huge believer in active and sustained course of actions rather than passive submissiveness to problems. It doesn’t help when one reads Camus and decides to compare everything that he so vividly, I must say, paints with his words. They prick and trick us into believing everything he writes to be true. A good writer must be successful at doing so to his readers, but it becomes burdensome when such questions harm us more than solving our existing crisis. For all of Camus’s writing strength, I generally give up his books halfway during my first read and reread them usually after a long time just so to dust away the seeds of misery he seems to be planting in his readers’ minds.

I have seen young readers in their early twenties’ read Camus and I have always wondered at their thoughts about this writer and his depressing take on life and humans. I started reading Camus fairly late in my life, after I turned twenty-five. It also perhaps was good because his hold on sorrow and its depths would have otherwise crushed my senile self in my early reading years. Some writings we must read at an age group when perhaps they are long past their relevance. I certainly don’t regard reading to be a compulsive vocation as a person but it’s always wonderful to have an alternate world of theories where we can dwell as freely as we wish to. The real world often traps our minds and degenerates them with the material availability of possessions, but the reading world opens up channels of vast multiple routes that we can hop into without their implications burdening our souls. This is the reason why Camus is so successful in hammering his readers with a guilt of looking into their behaviour and finding something amiss that tries to shatter their protected bubble of existence. So often, he breaks my anger into different balls of satiated energy that I throw back into the world and announce to my heart and mind that spirits once ignited are hard to extinguish by mere mortals.