Book Review, Books

To Kill A Mockingbird : My Thoughts 

Just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird. There’s nothing I can write that hasn’t been said about this book before. For those who haven’t read it yet – its a story of a quaint little town, its people and the incidents that happen over a period of 3 years. The story is slow and straightforward, narrated by 8 year old Scout. I loved her spunky tom boyish character, Atticus’s no-nonsense parenting and Jem’s big brotherly attitude.

Though the story is simple with very few characters, it feels that a lot of thought has gone into writing this tale. Lee has given much attention to detail and tried to capture the world from the eyes of a 8 year old. The language is uncomplicated and Harper Lee has deliberately used words such as ‘waked’ instead of ‘woke’ to stay true to the character of the young narrator. The world through the eyes of a child is innocent and one dimensional. They don’t read between the lines, trust in the inherent goodness in everyone, believe in fairness and don’t understand the complicated ways of the adults. This is exactly how Scout perceives the events in the book.

While I enjoyed the book I didn’t rush through it. The story progresses very slowly, almost lazily and it wasn’t something I couldn’t put down until I reached the last few chapters. Towards the end the book gets exciting – the court case and the Halloween night incidents are quite interesting and that’s where the book really had my full attention. The events on the next day of the trial didn’t just bring a tear to Atticus’s eyes but mine too. This is what I especially loved about Harper Lee’s writing style. She has created a masterpiece despite the simplistic writing. She didn’t stretch a point, or used flowery language but her words touch your heart and transport you to the dusty streets of Maycomb.

Besides creating a vivid picture of a small American town in 1930s, the book conveys some big messages in simple words. 

People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.

Most people are (nice), Scout, when you finally see them.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

These are basic truths that will stay with you for a long time. 

Its a heart warming read, with almost palpable innocence of Scout, Jem and Dill. Boo Radley’s character hasn’t been defined much but it hints at society’s lack of awareness to specially abled people in the early 19th century. 

Overall a happy book with memorable characters!

If you enjoyed this article and love reading books consider joining me on The Book Club .

-A


Advertisements
Book Review, Books

The Husband’s Secret – Book Review 

  

The name piqued my interest when a friend mentioned this book for the first time. When she said it haunted her for a while I knew I had to read it too.

If you like books that have intertwining stories, deep characters, a buttery smooth flow of words and a plot so interesting that you can’t

 put the book down, it is THE book for you.

I loved the complexity of characters. You know how we think we are a certain kind of person but behave completely different way when life tests us? The Husband’s Secret has a few of those instances, and their narration along with each character’s thought process is fascinating.

Liane Moriarty seems to me an expert in human psychology. Places where she’s putting a person’s thoughts in words are the best bits of the novel – the monologue that goes on in Rachel’s mind as she sits in the bath after Tupperware party, the thoughts Cecelia is thinking soon after she finished reading the letter, the array of emotions that cross Tess’s mind as she’s talking with Will towards the end are beautifully captured.

The intense indirect conversation Cecelia and Virginia share about the secret is another part that I liked.

Its not a happy book, but its not depressing either. Its an enjoyable read and ends with the message of what goes around comes around. Its a tale of a crime committed in passion, a marriage with all trust lost, a loss one can’t forget, a huge misunderstanding and a shattered hope. The epilogue was my most favorite part of the book where the author paints a picture with parallel possibilities. Its pretty intense and will make you wonder about the innumerable choices you have made to create the life you have today and maybe fantasize a little about the parallel possibilities yourself. It sort of reminded me of One by Richard Bach. 

A story line like this which has a hideous secret in the very core can’t conclude with hearts and flowers. I actually appreciate that the author has kept the plot realistic and has stayed away from creating a sugary fallacy. The book started as a regular story with myriad emotions but with a happy feel overall. Gradually it became complex and when the secret was disclosed I wondered how could something so monstrous be corrected without hurting anyone. It couldn’t. The message is subtle but rings clear – no matter how nice a person you are, you have to pay the price of causing pain to another human, in one form or the other. It is sort of frightening to see how one thing leads to another and snowballs into a giant wave which engulfs everyone when it bursts. It is also creepy the way one action triggers another and a chain reaction ensues, the end result not at all related but surely caused by the first step of the series… A process that sometimes spans decades without diluting the impact. Made me wonder how my casual actions may be starting chain reactions of their own.

  

Overall an enthralling read, if only it had a happy ending! I would rate 4/5

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A 

Parenting

I Love You 

  

VMJ and I both love bedtime and look forward to it. Though my reasons are a little different from hers 😉

Most days VMJ is not yet ready to sleep and we end up talking. She tells me what everyone brought for lunch and that Lightening McQueen is Matthew’s favorite car and its the fastest car in the whole world, that Charlie’s mom had brought his baby brother to school and he’s so teeny tiny and so cute, that Benjamin likes to be called Ben, and all boys in her class are funny but not Ben because he’s cute. She also tells me that she was excused from the circle for a little bit because she was talking to Isabelle and that Lila shouted at her while playing in the kitchen. 

Besides all updates on her school activities VMJ loves to tell me how much she loves me. Every night as I tuck her in we thank God and then I say I love you. She takes it as a cue and starts off. 

“I love you as bright as the sun.”

“I love you as many people in the Elsa and Anna and Peppa Pig show.”

“I love you as many waves are in the ocean.”

“I love you as tall as the sunflower.”

“I love you as much as sand is there on the beach.”

“I love you as many stars are in the sky.”

“I love you as big as space.”

And the list goes on and on…. She loves to get creative with her examples and whenever I tell her to stop talking and try to sleep, VMJ says “But I love to tell you how much I love you Mumma.” 

If only words could tell her how much I love her. However much you love me darling, I will always love you more… xoxo

-A

Mundane musings

Why I Support Hema Malini For Not Sympathizing with Pratyusha Banerjee 


Pratyusha Banerjee – young, beautiful, successful, popular Pratyusha Banerjee committed suicide on 1st April. My friend N who’s an avid follower of the show thought it was a distasteful April fool’s joke, and millions of us wish it was.

I hardly follow Hindi TV channels and have never watched the show but knew a lot about Anandi and recognized her too. This speaks volumes about her success, and she was only 24!!

I and N were talking about the suicide and we both agreed that it was a cowardly and selfish act. It’s easy to end your life but the ones who are living are only left behind with questions and what-ifs. Since we both have young kids our conversation soon moved on how to make our children emotionally strong and other parenting challenges.

Couple of days later social media was all over Hema Malini, calling her insensitive and bashing her left, right and center. I wondered why was it so difficult for people, especially mothers to understand where she was coming from. Then couple of days ago a new article from Shobha De claiming that Hema Malini has lost her mind caught my eye and made me lose it.

First of all, Shobha De it’s you who has lost her mind and not Hema Malini. And I’m not saying it because I’m a die hard fan or anything. I support her because I have a daughter myself and the very thought of her contemplating such a step anytime in her life scares the sh*t out of me.

Shobha De has diligently mentioned in her article “Star kids are often the hardest hit. The expectations are pitched sky high. And if they fail to match the stupendous success of their parents, they are called ‘losers’.” Perhaps she forgot that Hema Malini ruled the film industry at a time, and so did her husband. Her step sons and her daughters have been part of the industry too. She is the last person who needs to be told how life is tough for star kids and how audience put them through undue pressure.

I agreed wholeheartedly to the part which said “The stress of surviving in what is aptly called ‘tinsel town’ takes a heavy toll. Pratyusha had tasted success, and failure. Perhaps she couldn’t handle either.” Hema Malini’s own daughter had to handle failure too. And given her family background it wouldn’t have been an easy thing to accept.

The first time I heard the word suicide was when I was very young. We had family friends who’s daughter had recently failed a major test. The mother had confided in my mother that she worried about her daughter. She used to be so depressed all the time that they were scared if she’ll commit suicide to escape the shame of failure. That’s what my mother was sharing with my father when I had overheard their conversation and added a new word in my vocabulary. Thankfully our family friend studied harder and cleared the test next year instead of committing suicide. But in the years that followed I heard and read in newspaper about many children taking this road when they couldn’t cope up with studies or didn’t get through a prestigious enough college.

Now, consider Hema Malini as a mother. Esha Deol had to match up to the extremely high standards set by her parents and elder brother, and she failed miserably over and over again. Who knows if Hema Malini worried senseless like our family friends? Who knows if she tried day and night to keep her daughter’s moral up so she doesn’t succumb to the pressure?

It is fair when Shobha De says “She was just unable to cope with her overburdened life. Like many other persons – young and old.” But what will happen if everyone with an overburdened life starts hanging themselves? Moreover, what about the fan who committed suicide in front of her 2 year old because she couldn’t accept Pratyusha’s death? How can one support that kind of irresponsible action?

I support Hema Malini because I can understand the pain Pratyusha’s mother must be feeling. No body knows what drove her to take such a drastic step, and no one ever will be able to fully comprehend what really went through the fragile mind of Pratyusha during her last days. But I am certain of one thing – nothing could have been bad enough for her to commit suicide. And I can bet you that her mother feels the same. No matter how bad it was, it was not worth her life. I believe this is what Hema Malini felt too when she posted those tweets that irked everyone. She has been there so she knows, better than most of us.

Life is getting so complicated and competitive, I can not even begin to understand how tough it would be for my sweet little daughter when she grows up. My daughter, who’s delicate, shy, pampered and so protected, will one day be facing the harsh world on her own. She won’t confide in me every time something bothers her, she won’t always share how upset a failure made her. She will have to take every downfall in her stride and move on. If today I empathize with Pratyusha’s suicide I am telling her when she feels the going is getting too tough for her its okay to call it quits. And mind you, its very subjective. We don’t know about Pratyusha’s challenges. Some other girl might be able to endure much more than that and some may crumble at the slightest defeat. Where do we draw the line as to what kind of challenge is worthy of a life?

I know for sure, no matter what happens with my baby girl when she grows up, there’s NOTHING she can’t fight, NOTHING that would even come close to the value of her life.

Loser may not be the most correct word for Pratyusha but didn’t she become one when she let her problems win?

Bhawnaon ko samjho yaar…. don’t twist the words to get attention. Don’t digress from the main issue here. Let’s stop glorifying her fight and empathizing with her weakness. It was a cowardly and selfish act and no amount of heart rendering speeches will make it right.

-A

Mundane musings

The Forgotten Art of Letter Writing 

When I was a child not everyone had a phone in their house, mobile phones were only seen in the movies if at all and internet was unheard of. Most inter city communication happened through letters. The postman used to be a busy man and we anticipated his peculiar call of ‘Khanna ji” every afternoon. I grew up seeing my mother exchange letters with her siblings. There were frequent postcards from my Mama (Mom’s brother) in his swift cursive handwriting, and numerous inland letters from my Masi (Mom’s sister). The postcards were open to all and usually contained seasonal greetings and tit bits of news from my Mama’s family. The inland letters were discreet and long. Once they arrived I never saw them again. When I was old enough to write I used to write to my cousins, uncles and aunts, but it wasn’t much fun writing about weather and routine things just for the sake of writing something.

During class 8 one of my friends moved to another city. Interstate calling was expensive so we continued our friendship through letters. Couple of years later she introduced me to one of her friends in the new school and I made my first pen friend. That was the beginning of my letter writing journey. My pen friend ‘SH’ and I used to write really long letters to each other – about what’s  happening at school to our latest crush to what we did during summer vacation to the new clothes that we bought. We continued to write for many years and our letters evolved from being too childish to a bit deeper.

When I moved to a different city for my graduation I got the opportunity to write to all my friends and my parents. I was the crazy girl who kept envelopes, stamps, letter pad, address book and glue stick in my college bag at all times. Whenever we had a free lecture I would sit in a corner and write away. The letters were stamped and sealed and dropped in the letter box on our way back to the hostel.

My friends were kind enough to indulge me and always wrote back. The eager waiting  for the postman continued and on most days after lunch we waited for him to arrive before heading back to our rooms. The University postman even started to recognize me and my friends and would hand us our letters if he saw us anywhere in the campus.

I was fortunate to have my best friend from school Gesu as my roommate during my first hostel experience. I used to consider her my soul sister and it was amazing how we connected at so many levels. We always had so much to talk about and most of it was far from the typical teenage drama. Gesu loved writing letters too and we often wrote to each other despite sharing a hostel room. The main reason we chose to write rather than talk is because she used to say when we talk we often get distracted and the conversation takes a few unexpected turns leading us far from where we wanted to reach. While letter writing is a straight road, no distractions, no wrong turns – just plain simple road to the place we want to go. Also sometimes there are things that are easier to write rather than speak, sometimes it’s more convenient to communicate without looking at each other. Those letters that Gesu and I wrote to each other were profound and I have not written more meaningful letters in my life.

Letters also helped my mom write about things she would never tell me in person. My parents were raised in big families that were not too expressive. They too found it hard to express their love and other feelings in person. Letters gave my mother a way to communicate with me without feeling awkward or self conscious. She didn’t write often but whenever she did I got to know more about her and her feelings than I did when I lived in the same house with her.

 

Around the time I graduated internet took over most communication. Sending letters became a pain and emails seemed like a more convenient option. Very soon that also stopped. Now its been ages since I wrote a proper email to anyone just to say that I was thinking about them. Today I don’t write emails, I just call or we chat on Whatsapp. While nothing beats the instant high of hearing your loved ones voice, it can not compensate for the old world charm of a letter. A chat may be able to help you connect real time with a friend but you can’t save it for future and savor the feelings behind the words.

Electronic media despite its ease of delivery and God speed seems a little impersonal. When I read a letter I saw the handwritten words – how leisurely or swiftly they were penned. The pressure on the paper, the way punctuation marks were made, how the letter was signed – all these things were windows into the mind of the person writing the letter. A letter could be read and re-read and every time it conjured new meanings and emotions. Words typed in an email or a Whatsapp chat don’t convey half the meaning. I may be crying and at the same time making smileys and cracking jokes on a chat, and no one can know.

There was a time I used to recognize each of my friends’ handwriting but I can’t recognize hand writing of anyone I have met after college except for my husband’s. My mom who is not very comfortable with electronic mediums seldom writes to me now. Friends don’t pour out their hearts on paper, they do it on the Whatsapp chat window now but its too difficult to save that particular bit in case I want to re-read.

I understand that traditional letter are too high maintenance. Considering our current lifestyle emails are better than handwritten letters in many ways. The ease of writing and the instant delivery is just a small incentive. I love how all my electronic letters are available at the click of a button and I don’t need to bother storing or carrying them when I move houses or even worry about anyone opening them up.

I am doing my bit to keep the tradition alive by writing notes to VMJ and VSJ. I have created individual email accounts for both my children and send emails whenever they do something sweet or on reaching a milestone or when I am feeling particularly loving ;).  Sometimes I attach a picture or a video for reference and plan to give it to them as a birthday gift on their 10th or 13th birthday. Hope they enjoy reading these letters and are moved to explore letter writing themselves. 

My husband’s cousin sister seems to resonate these feelings and often encourages her toddler daughter to send letters to VMJ . VMJ jumps with joy to see a letter addressed to her in the mail and promptly makes a card/draw a picture and mails back. It’s a fantastic feeling to see the new generation enjoying the pleasures of writing and receiving letters. Wish they continue writing. Fingers crossed!  

 -A