I've always loved books. In the past I was a voracious bookworm, albeit a choosy one, but now as I laughingly explain to anyone who cares to listen, ever since I got high-tech I haven't had much time for books anymore. Any spare moment and I'm either at my computer or tweaking my cellphone. But once in a while I do still read a good book and I count myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to lay hands earlier this year on Memoirs of a Geisha which was a fabulous eye-opening read, and just a couple of days ago, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner.
I'd read the review of Runner some time ago but it hadn't really prepared me for the absorbing quality of the book. And the ambience helped some because I began reading it amid the dirt and gravel of the local cemetery where I was keeping an eye on the workers repairing my parents' gravesites. It turned out to be fascinating... and part of its' fascination lies in the fact that it's about a country that I've never really had much interest in. Sure I'd heard about the "forgotten war", of the inhumanly repressive Taliban regime, of the US playing Big Brother and ousting the black ones in the aftermath of 9/11... all the stuff that comes on the BBC and CNN. But The Kite Runner brings all that to life and in a neatly worked out plot whose careful construction reminds me of one of my favourite contemporary writers, Amitav Ghosh (if you haven't read his The Shadow Lines yet, do it pronto). Also, both Memoirs and Runner are about cultures other than the usual American/western which don't really have anything new much to offer anymore. Kudos to Mr Hosseini for this brilliant piece of writing.
Went to a Florist Fair today. First prize, in what I guess was the artistic arrangement category, was this starkly simple but very artistically arranged stalks of anthurium with a Christmassy red candle and ribbons, and beautiful ivy leaves.
#2 was equally beautiful to me...I love the asparagus fern and bubblegum fruits at the base, and the holders, which look to me like bamboo, encased in Christmassy green, with elegant gold ribbons wrapped around them, and topping it all off, bright red poinsettias in just the right size.
I don't quite know which category this set-piece belonged to but these lakspurs were so amazingly unblemished and perfect, I thought they weren't real and my sister actually touched the waxy petals to check if they were fresh which they were of course. The riot of purple, which just happens to be my favourite colour, and mauve, cream and white made for a stunning vision of unbelievably fresh waxy beauty.
For those who are lucky to still be blessed with your mothers, this is beautiful. For those who are not, this is even more beautiful.
The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked.
And the guide said "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. She played with her children, fed them and bathed them, and taught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike and reminded them to feed the dog and do their homework and brush their teeth. The sun shone on them and the young mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then the nights came and the storms and the path was sometimes dark and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her arms, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid for you are near and no harm can come."
And the morning came and there was a hill ahead and the children climbed and grew weary and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there."
So the children climbed and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms. And with this she gave them strength to face the world. Year after year she showed them compassion, understanding, hope, but most of all unconditional love. And when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."
The days went on and the weeks and the months and the years and the mother grew old and she became little and bent. But her children were tall and strong and walked with courage. And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits on to their children."
And when the way became rough for her, they lifted her and gave her their strength just as she had given them hers. One day they came to a hill and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk with dignity and pride with their heads held high and so can their children after them."
And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."
Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. She’s the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colours of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. A mother shows every emotion... happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow....and all the while, hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life. She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not even death.
It's the twelfth anniversary of my mother's passing through the golden gates. I know she's with us still but Mum, we miss you.
I have a good friend who has this habit of sms-ing me on full moon nights with comments on the "total horror movie" effect of the moon :D I don't watch very many horror movies so I don't normally associate the two. But I must admit that last evening's moonrise, pictured above from my bedroom balcony, was prettily eerie with all the fleecy clouds surrounding it. Normally the full moon is something that I often forget to look at in the busyness of life especially when all the lights are on full blast but when I do remember to look at it, it never fails to get to me. It has to be without doubt one of the most magnificent sights ever. And where I live, high up in the mountains, winters are always clear, weather-perfect times so the next couple of months are going to bring in more breathcatchingly beautiful full moon nights :-)
It was my birthday last Wednesday. And as I reflect on my life I know I've come a long long way. Good times, bad times. Sometimes I tend to get a little morose and feel like I've been especially hard done by, gotten a rougher deal than a lot of people.... parents both gone when some friends still have the pair intact, no lifetime partner, no patter of little feet, a sister in a wheelchair, nothing but hairfall-inducing stress oftentimes. But then again, as I was driven to reflect on the morning of my birthday, I've had my share of blessings and good luck, a good job I love, supportive friends and family, a house of our own. Most of all, I'm comforted by the thought that the Good Lord sees me fit to cope with all the adversity that's come my way. Strange comfort maybe but it's somehow a source of great strength to me. I don't know all the dips and curves ahead of the road I travel but it's been a good ride so far and I know that He who rides with me, will continue to be with me.
If I want it, it's mine. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's mine. If I can take it away from you, it's mine. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine. If it's mine, it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what. If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine. If it looks just like mine, it is mine!
And you wondered why people are what they are! Though who would've thought anyone as adorable as my 2 year old niece could be that nasty.. Ever noticed how traits like that are soo cute in toddlers but make you go grrrrr in adults?
My little 10 year old dog Sentea died in the wee hours of Monday morning. He went through a lot of pain that I don't even want to think about. What always distresses me when pets die is that old claim that animals don't have souls so I'll never see him or any of our old loved furried ones ever again. And it's also so hard to take when they pass away and nobody really expresses any real sympathy. You go out and everything is the same, life goes on same as it always does while you move around with an aching heart. The lyrics of this old love song always comes to mind at times like this...
Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world,
`cause you don't love me anymore?
Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love.
I wake up in the morning and I wonder
why ev'rything's the same as it was.
I can't understand, no I can't understand,
how life goes on the way it does.
Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when you said good-bye.
It's a quiet sunday evening, mist and fog all day. I can take solitariness better than most people but every once in a while come those blue moments when you wonder if anyone knows you're out there, if anyone remembers you exist... like Neil Diamond, him of the uber-beautiful voice, once put it so soulfully...
I am, I said To no one there And no one heard at all Not even the chair I am, I cried I am, said I And I am lost and I can't even say why Leavin' me lonely still
Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king And then became one Well, except for the names and a few other changes If you talk about me, the story's the same one
But I got an emptiness deep inside And I've tried but it won't let me go And I'm not a woman who likes to swear But I've never cared for the sound of being alone
I am, I said To no one there And no one heard at all Not even the chair I am, I cried I am, said I And I am lost and I can't even say why... ~~
Lately I'm always just so rushed for time, my early morning Quiet Times have been seriously cut short. And as if that doesn't make me feel terribly guilty already, I just read this little poem. Ouch.
I knelt to pray but not for long
I had too much to do. I had to hurry and get to work for bills would soon be due. So I knelt and said a hurried prayer and jumped up off my knees. My Christian duty was now done My soul could rest at ease. All day long I had no time to spread a word of cheer, no time to speak of Christ to friends, they'd laugh at me I'd fear. No time, no time, too much to do That was my constant cry, no time to give to souls in need But at last the time, the time to die. I went before the Lord, I came, I stood with downcast eyes. For in his hands God held a book; It was the book of life. God looked into his book and said "Your name I cannot find. I once was going to write it down... but never found the time." ~~
I've never really been into strappy heels until this Easter when I got me the white ones. Now if there's one thing I like most about myself it's my feet. I think I have passably good-lookin' feet even if I do say so myself :D But strappy heels are murder to move around with and at one time I felt they made me look underdressed and horribly exposed! Basically you just need superb balance and lots of attitude to carry them off creditably. Maybe I'm finally getting there :o)
This is an old song that used to be big in the 50s. I've never actually heard it but the lyrics were in an old songbook that we had around the house for as long as I can remember. And little things do mean a lot to me...a thank you for something apparently trivial, keeping your word by calling when you say you'll call .....in general, just little touches that speak tons of good manners and breeding. In friendship, in love, in courtship, in basic interpersonal relationships, they get my vote for gallantry anyday!
blow me a kiss from across the room say I look nice when i'm not touch my hair as you pass my chair little things mean a lot. give me your arm as we cross the street call me at six on the dot a line a day when you're far away little things mean a lot. don't have to buy me diamonds or pearls champagne, sables, and such i never cared much for diamonds and pearls 'cause honestly, honey, they just cost money give me a hand when i've lost the way give me your shoulder to cry on whether the day is bright or gray give me your heart to rely on send me the warmth of a secret smile to show me you haven't forgot for now and forever, that's always and ever honey, little things mean a lot.
Something I came across in a newspaper several years ago sometime after my mother upped and left to join my father in the Great Cancerless Home Up Yonder. It dealt not just with the usual trappings of bereavement but with transitions I'd had to make, something that no one had ever really talked to me about. Maybe they didn't know, maybe they didn't feel they could quite properly address the issue, maybe they figured I'd just work it out on my own somehow. Fact is this article spoke to me. I've treasured the clipping for all these years, even taking a printout for a friend who'd also lost a second parent....
Sometime ago, a cousin of mine lost her father. Seriously ill for several years, he had deteriorated in his last year to being little better than a vegetable. Confined for months to a hospital bed and unable to swallow, see or speak, the poor man led a wretched existence. To see him on her daily visits to the hospital brought nothing but pain. Emotionally wrapped up as she was in his illness, she prayed fervently that he may be spared any further torment. Yet when her prayers were finally answered, my cousin was devastated. Even her mother’s unexpected death a few years earlier had not affected her so deeply, though she was particularly close to her. How then was one to explain the intensity of her emotions at her father’s death when, to all intents and purposes, he had not been around for a long time, and when she herself had hoped for a merciful release both for him and for the rest of the family?
Apparently, according to psychologists, her reaction was a very normal one. The death of the last surviving parent can trigger unexpectedly strong feelings even in adults who have stood on their own feet for a long time and shouldered the responsibility of looking after their own children. Nor does having dealt before with the death of someone close to them alter the situation. And the reason, we are told, is that they are faced with making the transition to being part of the oldest living generation in the family. It is a subtle shift in roles that carries profound implications, though these may not always be consciously recognized.
A friend who has lost both parents once explained to me how she felt. “I started thinking of my own mortality,” she said. “The death of my father, and then my mother suddenly made me realize that I no longer had all the time in the world to attain my goals.
“But it was another aspect of the situation that affected me more. You always imagine that your parents are indestructible, that they are a permanent part of your life, that they will always be around to care for you, and this has nothing to do with being dependent on them or being in close touch. In fact, even when there is a reversal of roles, and the child looks after the parent instead of the other way around, with your parents alive, you feel there is always someone there for you. When you lose one parent, you still feel you have the other to turn to. But the death of the second parent forces you to relinquish the psychological security you have always had, and take up the responsibility of becoming the older generation. It is a particularly distressing prospect to face.
“For many, parents represent a connection to the larger family and its past through memories and stories that you now must make sure does not disappear. You find yourself reassessing your relationships with members of the family, and very often this results in making the effort to become closer. You find yourself providing the cement that holds the family together, that till recently just the existence of your parents did. And finally you accept the fact that both your parents have gone, and left you to take their place.”
It is now almost a year since my cousin lost her father. She is still coming to terms with being part of the older generation, but perhaps it will not be too long before she accepts the transition she has to make.
Rifling through the not so well-equipped library at work yesterday, I was surprised to come up with a book of poems written by my onetime warden at the university hostel. Mrs A, wherever you are, these are lovely :)
there are so many songs i want to sing but so little time to sing them in.
so, beloved, consider all my songs sung in the brief whiles
when we become to each other tangible and indivisible, as we soar on the chords of the primeval song which transcends the universe and renders all time measureless.
i wish to write me a poem where i can sing of things that i cannot find the tunes for...yet
i wish to sing me a song where i can find the lyrics for all the beauty that i cannot find the names for...yet
i wish to paint me a picture where i can show all the pain that haunts me because i cannot sing the songs i want to sing of the poems that lie unwritten and of the beauty that dies unrevealed.
and so i write and i write..still
when the parting happens there is a strange feeling that the initial meeting never happened and the ending renders the beginning so unreal.
unreal because it is over.
and the parting remains real because it is forever.
old is no age to be any time, any place
age when it is old is certainly not gold
old age is aches and pains only loss, no more gains
it is lethargy of a body which once held beauty and strength
it is desolation of a spirit which once braved illusions
but that is old age indeed when loneliness and desolation today or tomorrow no longer matter
Among my favourite pieces of poetry is The Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs, and alternately the Canticle of Canticles. Its lyricism is just so intense, so exquisitely charged.... it reminds me of that scene in Amadeus where Salieri comes across a piece of sheet music left lying around by Mozart... "On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, just a pulse... Then suddenly - high above it - an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God."
Some of my favourite fragments... Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past,the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
Afraid to care... too much... or even at all... Afraid to love... even a little... Afraid to lose your love... or my ability to care... Afraid to try... very hard... Afraid of love... of loss... of loneliness... Afraid of others... afraid of pain... despair... depression... Afraid to believe... afraid not to... Afraid to show weakness... or to be too hard... Fear of destiny... fate... my own choices... Afraid of what will be... and what never will... Afraid of you... afraid of me...
Some more light Shakespeare. This one comes from The Philanderer, an old lit. rag from my university days, which I unearthed last night and which brought back a flood of memories. Pankaj, old friend, wherever you are, you're missed bigtime.
The Mod Shakespeare
Julius Caesar, III, ii
Friends, Romans, hipsters, Let me clue you in; I come to put down Caesar, not to groove him. The square things some cats are on stay with them; The hip bits, like, go down under; So let it be with Caesar. The cool Brutus gave you the message Caesar had big eyes; If that's the sound, someone's copping a plea, And like, old Caesar really set them straight. Here along with Brutus and the studs - For Brutus is a real cool cat; So are they all, all cool cats - Come I to make this gig at Caesar's lay down. He was my bud, the most and real gone to me; But like, Brutus pegs him as having big eyes, And Brutus is a real cool cat, Caesar copped a lot of heads for home, Which put us way out with that loot; Does this give Caesar big eyes? When the square cats cried, Caesar flipped; Big eyes should be made of more solid stuff; Yet Brutus pegs him as having big eyes, And Brutus is a real cool cat. You all dug that bit at the Lupercal.. Three times I gave him the king's lid And three times he hung me up; was this big eyes? I don't want to disprove what Brutus gassed, But like, I only dig what comes on.. So how come you don't cry the blues for him? Man, you are real nowhere, You don't make it any more! Don't cut out on me; My guts are in the box there with Caesar, And I gotta stop swingin' till they come back.
A little light Shakespaw that I chanced upon while trawling the Net
Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy
To go outside, and there perchance to stay Or to remain within: that is the question:Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather That Nature rains upon those who roam abroad, Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet, And so by dozing melt the solid hours That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen timeAnd stall the dinner bell.To sit, to stare outdoors, and by a stare to seem to state A wish to venture forth without delay, Then when the portal's opened up, to standAs if transfixed by doubt.To prowl; to sleep; To choose not knowing when we may once moreOur readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball;For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob, Or work a lock or slip a window-catch, And going out and coming in were made As simple as the breaking of a bowl, What cat would bear the household's petty plagues, The cook's well-practiced kicks, the butler's broom, The infant's careless pokes, the tickled ears, The trampled tail, and all the daily shocks That fur is heir to, when, of his own free will, He might his exodus or entrance makeWith a mere mitten?Who would spaniels fear, Or strays trespassing from a neighbour's yard, But that the dread of our unheeded cries And scratches at a barricaded door No claw can open up, dispels our nerve And makes us rather bear our humans' faultsThan run away to unguessed miseries?Thus caution doth make house cats of us all; And thus the bristling hair of resolution Is softened up with the pale brush of thought, And since our choices hinge on weighty things, We pause upon the threshold of decision.
A poem about learning from bittersweet experiences. The best thing about life and getting older is that you learn from your experiences...you just can't do it otherwise. When they actually happen to you...all the motley weeps and laughs that are inevitably intertwined in the intricacy of life, you are unknowingly blessed because you emerge so much stronger and wiser...
After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure, you really are strong, you really do have worth, and you learn and you learn, with every goodbye, you learn...
Oft in the stilly night ere slumber's chain has bound me, fond memory brings the light of other days around me; the smiles, the tears of childhood's years, the words of love then spoken, the eyes that shone now dimmed and gone, the cheerful hearts now broken.
When I remember all the friends, so linked together, I've seen around me fall like leaves in wintry weather, I feel like one who treads alone some banquet hall deserted whose lights are fled whose garlands dead and all but he departed.
- Thomas Moore
Time it was and what a time it was it was a time of innocence a time of confidences Long ago it must be I have a photograph preserved your memories they're all that's left of you..
When I first read about blogs in Digit magazine a few years ago I was aghast. It was something like an online diary so they said. My first reaction was why on earth would anyone in their right senses want to hang out their dirty linen for all the world to see! And for someone who's had to struggle all through my growing up years when I diligently kept a diary, away from the prying eyes of my sisters who had the infuriating habit of blithely announcing my deepest secrets at the dinner table, it sounded suspiciously like a total invasion of privacy...something that's incredibly dear to me. So for the longest time I completely nixed the idea. But people change as do the seasons, and browsing through a variety of blogs, some of friends, some of total strangers, I realise that there's a certain show and hide aspect of it which is how I now find myself all out gung ho on putting up little pieces of me for the world and its sister to see.
I can't see myself just yet being so bold as to hang out here every item of my dirty linen so for now it'll probably be poetry and a few cautious musings. Bear with me as I test the waters before I open up my lute to truly sing...