The month in books: April

On the personal front April was a tiresome and trying month. I had very little or rather no time at all for myself and it seemed an unsettling period. The little hours of solitude that I snatched for my reading had me read these wonderful books which truly sustained me through those distressing days.

Firstly I owe the revival of my spirits to none other our beloved Rowling. Reading Goblet of fire sort of rekindled those feebly glowing embers of enthusiasm. It was my second time I think. The first time I read it, I remember clearly, was many years back and under a thick blanket, shuddering at the death of poor old Frank. I felt the very same fervour in this reading too. And I am pretty sure that it will never die out. My love for the Harry Potter series will definitely be with me throughout my life.

While there are many critics who argue that Rowling’s writing is too logical than fantastic I can but only detest that argument. Stories can be logical, magical, anything! That’s what stories are- impossible, possible, imaginative, real… The fact that as a child the book awed me and as an adult it remains a true and faithful friend, who sees me through tough times, even provides an unparalleled escape is a testimony to its brilliance. Only very few books have that power and the Potter books have it in them.

And with the alleviation of cloudy moods I even ventured headlong into ‘Pottermore’ and had loads of fun buying my wand and getting sorted. Mine’s a beautiful Sycamore with unicorn core wand and to my surprise I found myself in Hufflepuff house. Ouch! But the hat never goes wrong.

The other book that completely aided in my healing was Mr. Oliver’s Diary by Ruskin Bond. It’s a short and sweet book that will stay with me forever. It tells the endearing tale of a perfect school teacher, the strict and bendable, Mr. Oliver. It’s a children’s book and I loved it. Somehow I am never comfortable calling books as ‘Children’s books’ because I enjoy them wholly as any child would do and I am strictly way past my childhood. I never tire of them and it isn’t surprising that I turned to these very books in a very troubled time. Not intentionally though, but perhaps instinctively.

This also tells a very good principle to keep in life if you ask me. Stay a child at heart. When a book meant for kids can cheer one up so well, keeping your heart and mind like a child’s can certainly go a long way to leading a happy and fulfilling life. Yes and the book also has many a treats on the platter to cater to every imaginable childish craving- from croaky, slimy frogs to hot, savoury snacks to snow, ghosts and a cute love story.

And then I read a painting. Yes, I can only describe that book as a work of pure art painted in words. How else can anybody discuss about a work by the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore? ‘Shesher Kavitha’ a Bengali masterpiece by Tagore was recently translated to English by Dilip Basu. I recently read a little review of the translated version, ‘The Last Poem- A novel’ and instantly ordered it online. It was a long wait of forty eight hours before I held it my hands. This one is a true feast for the romantic sort. It is tragic, in a way, mind you yet it is not. That subtlety in its storyline kept me in a trance for hours later. Once taken up it is next to impossible to put it down. The story pulls you into its mire of poetry, nature and love; the three very elements that I live on. It is a beautiful little novel and in a way renders true beauty to the word beautiful.

Here’s a tiny eloquent poem, one of the many poems that bridge the romance :

Waterfall, in the crystals

of your flow,

The sun and stars

See each other

And here is another favourite of mine:

Let the shadows swing and play

Upon your waters,

Let the shadows mingle

With the music of your laughter,

Give it a voice

The voice of eternity.

The last poem in the book, from which the book derives its name, is a classic. There are several surreal illustrations, by a very talented Dinakar Kowshik, interspersed between the pages and they are great tools that aid in gluing to mind the quintessence of the characters. All in all, one marvellous book that I can just look at and feel happy.

 

 

Admirable Women

I am a people person who loves to know what the other person’s life is like and their desires, dreams, struggles, passions, dislikes intrigue me. My inquisitiveness will see no end and this drives the sympathiser in me. Every now and then I find myself in depths of some person’s story, hoping and hating with them. Wikipedia is my constant companion that I turn to during my leisurely hours and read on endlessly about people who I’ve heard and not. Biographies are like friends to me. The people in them seem more like one of my own and I treasure the experience.

Women who veer off the conventional margins of life are the one’s who most amaze me. And every time I hear or see them I feel invigorated to strive for more. The reason these woman evoke such reverence is because they have transcended their personal and social limitations and combats and have dared to look beyond. More often than not we find people who say a lot about them and some are even cynical about these achievers. But then again these women have shown that only look straight ahead of them.

Oprah Winfrey

In my list of favourites, Opera Winfrey figures surely at the top. The hardships she faced in her early years are shocking and sad. For someone who was abused at the age of nine she has really showed the world, this chauvinistic one, the power of a woman. We all love her show and have been following it very dearly. It is her courage and empathizing nature that has brought her where she is today. She has been a great inspiration for me ever since I stopped watching Blue’s Clues. Even her voice has something very genial and genuine about it that one can listen to her for hours. And combined with stories she brings to light it’s just one amazing ride. Another thing for a book lover like me is her book club and its recommendations. I have sincerely read most of her recommendations. The acclaimed book, The road by Cormac McCarthy, The Heart is a lonely hunter by Carson McCullers, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen are some of my favourites from her recommendations. Yet another aspect that I really admire in Oprah is her spirituality. The spiritual journey of an individual is often fleeting and inconsistent and I take every opportunity to nourish my spiritual hunger from every source I can get. Her web posts are very convenient to get to and read and ponder about. Oprah is one amazing woman who I shall always love and admire. Ironically I haven’t got to her autobiography as yet and I sincerely hope to read it very soon.

Samantha Brown

Then the other woman who comes to my mind when I think of the admirable sort is Samantha Brown. At her age I wonder if I’ll be able to do my groceries decently! Though many like to term her life as ‘lucky’ I refrain from it. I believe that she is truly blessed by God Almighty for getting to travel the world like that only happens to one in a million. It requires extreme physique, mental stamina for a woman to hop about from continent to another. I wouldn’t be surprised if Travel Channel aired a new series, “Passport to Pluto” with Samantha gleefully going on about it “icy surface”. Again her voice is magnetic and is my absolute favourite too. I just realised that I seem to love women with great voices. Or maybe it’s a coincidence, But whatever it is Samantha is simply admirable. I do not think I have watched any other show as many times as I have watched, Great Hotels, Passport to Europe and Girl meets Hawaii. I love her language which is as exotic as the places she visits and of course her dressing style. Her sense of humour which is perfect in timing and meaning as well sets her apart from the rest of the clan. Most of all its her courage that truly exhorts me. For a to-be journalist this is the first thing that I take from her.

Barkha Dutt, the super-charged, intrepid Indian journalist is another one in my list. She has every high honour to her name that a woman can possibly be garnered. Her passion for journalism purely has taken her from her humble beginnings to national fame. Fear is something Barkha I assume has never seen for where have you heard of a young woman from a conventional society report from a war live. This commendable feat brought her a lot of acclaim and popularity. She has a clever way with words and a compassionate way with people. These are the two foremost qualities that I see in her and wish to imbibe. In an era where journalists are scorned as being political and corrupt Barkha sets an example for clean news making and reporting.