Sunday, December 28, 2014

Twisted Equations

She played with her long, hazelnut-tinted wavy hair as she wrote - hair like the kind I pushed off my own forehead as I sipped my mocha. It seemed so natural, sitting here in this isolated run-down Turkish joint on the corner of Seneca and 2nd St, with this woman in her late 40s without betraying her years; yet so unnatural was the nature of the invisible link between us: a link that wasn't what it should be, and definitely was what it never should've been. I wasn't in love; no, I was hungry... Hungry for the intimacy of the unspoken witching hours of the night that we shared, drowning ourselves in guilty gratification. We never attempted to justify ourselves. For me, she was only a woman that I had just met two months ago for the first time, not the cause of my existence and the scar of my single father's life. We were one, by DNA, and by the act of inseparation that unified us in an escapist attempt to defy all reason.

I looked at her hands as they furiously filled up the paper. She bites her nails, I mused to myself. I definitely got that from her.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lone Wolf

Shield up, for you are alone
As you journey across the alleys of vice.
Be not trepid, for they won't think twice,
and neither must you.

At best, it is barbarism.
You may be blessed with betrayal and malice;
Seek solace in solitude; to hell with the callous,
Trust not another soul.

At worst, it is genocide;
Though you never found out what it is you belonged to.
They were out to obliterate, and you may not construe
That you were simply in the way.

Shield up, for you are alone.
The monstrous bully oppresses; the sly witch ensnares.
They will never be yours, as you must not be theirs.
Ready the lone wolf.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review: The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

So the first thing you do when you pick up a book is turn it over and read the description in the back. If the plot line grips you, you give the book a shot. In all honesty, the one provided at the back of The Winds of Hastinapur may seem more like a narrative than an attention-grabber, and in a shop, I might have put the book right back down on the New Releases table. But here’s the thing: the book IS just that. And that’s okay. The essence of this novel lies in the re-creating of a well-known story (read: the Mahabharata) from the potential thoughts of (gasp) the women in it (read: Ganga and Satyavati). And that, in itself, is a hell of an idea. 

The story begins at the end, at the feet of a dying Ganga and with the deaths of the Pandavas atop Mount Meru. Between the theft of a cow and the unwelcome bearing of a curse, the first half of the book (Book One) is dominated by the demystification of the not-so-pure inhabitants upon this magical mountain called the Celestials. When the daughter of the Lady of the River is to bear the human births of the Elementals in the form of children that she must kill (all but one), the lives of a whole range of unsuspecting victims are set into motion. We see the eagerness of an adolescent girl to grow into a woman, and we see her exposure to the real world turn her into one in the most unfortunate of ways. Ganga is real: she disobeys; she protects; she rebels. She sacrifices and she kills. And equally real (and often purely cruel) are those that have been the cause of her consequences.  

As Bhishma starts to take center-stage, we move focus to Satyavati (Book Two), the woman who perpetrates the second half of the curse – the suffering of Prabhasa, the Elemental who is to experience immortality in the world of mortals without the pleasures and pains of female companionship. A fisher-girl married into royalty at the cost of a potential king’s true realization, Satyavati constantly suffers from complexes that allow no husband, son or daughter-in-law to ever truly achieve happiness, and her somewhat self-imposed misery provides contrast to the victimization of Ganga, which certainly garners more sympathy from the reader.

At crux of appreciating this book is the author’s ability to characterize, flanked with doses of peripheral ornate descriptions. What I wasn’t a fan of were the periodic stretches of internal thought processes coupled with peripheral ornate descriptions. There are slow moments in the novel that allow for putting the book down for a while and getting back to it later when you’re ready for a little more of controlling fates, seeking truths and heeding commands. The other thing is that the novel ends without providing enough motives to want to read on. The book would work fine as part of a trilogy, but it doesn’t end with much hint at a trilogy, and it doesn’t stand alone too well either. 

Nevertheless, it has been refreshing to read what truly was more of a re-creating rather than a re-telling of an epic so cherished by me, especially from the perspectives of female characters that we’ve never heard from before. The idea of the book is excellent, and I look forward to potential sequels.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The girl with the red bag

In a quiet corner of the park, on a solitary old rusty bench, is a girl with a red bag. She comes here everyday, pulls out a pen and notebook, and starts to write. On most days, pigeons gather at her feet and she feeds them birdseed. Sometimes they don't come. But she always carries the birdseed in her red bag, just in case they decide to show up.

The regular park-goers know her simply as the girl with the red bag, always to be found at that same old rusty bench, in sunshine or rain. Her eyelids, dark and lowered, would be raised every now and then to glance at passers by. Some people like to stop and chat with her; a few even sit down next to her for a while. Others merely jog past with an acknowledging nod or a quick smile or wave, which she returns. She looks on after the people she talks to as they walk or jog out of her sight, and then returns to her writing.

The girl with the red bag, with her hair loose around her shoulders, flying across her lowered pensive face in the breeze, is a regular part of the morning walk of those who care to notice. Sometimes they see her frown at her notebook; sometimes she smiles. Occasionally her eyes are moist. When she is not engaged in conversation with a park-goer, she is buried deep in her notebook.

Today, I stop in front of the rusty old bench. It has been empty for three days. It is missing a certain red bag full of writing and birdseed. The usual people at the park have asked each other about her for the last two days. Today they seem to go about their usual business. I shrug and move on. Maybe she will come tomorrow. Maybe not. I have somewhere I have to be.