SnapShots: Of Pebbles and Puzzles

It has to be 2 a.m and you gotta be really sleepless to have such deep thoughts…

CAUTION: Reading any further might cause side-effects like self-absorption, absent mindedness, sadness, anxiety, dramatic mood swings or silent tears depending on the degree of relatability you feel with the following text. It might compel you to listen to Adele or Eminem on high volume. In such a case, please take a long walk, watch the sun set or call your mom.

~~ The wrongs and The regrets

When you throw a pebble in water it will create ripples. Everyone knows that. I knew it too well.

When I dropped pebbles I made sure I was at a distance. A distance safe enough so even if I threw a stone with might, the largest and most intense of ripples wouldn’t be able to reach me. You see I am the kind of person who makes the backup plan before making the plan. I was counting on the distance.

It took a while to realise that I wasn’t dropping pebbles in water but me. I was the pebble sinking lower and lowewith time by the weight of my delusions and by the force of my deeds.

~~ The uncertainty

I don’t know why but things often fail, they often come together too. It’s like executing a puzzle; you don’t know anything until you reach the end.

Everything in my life is a piece of that puzzle, and I can’t wait to get the whole picture.Well, I felt like that some millions of years ago.I was someone else then. I was sure of my identity, my role, my purpose…

Now, I feel like a piece of that puzzle; just trying to fit anywhere I can as soon as possible.

 

 

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I bought this classic from a book sale last year. As a writer, you learn a lot from this book. Also, as this genre has come a long way since the early 19th century, and as we are often subjected to modern-age movies, novels or series that have much gory, gothic and horrifying stories than Frankenstein one might not be able to appreciate it entirely.

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Frankenstein is a science-fiction novel belonging to the Romantic Era*, written by Mary Shelly and published in the year 1818. You can buy from any bookstore and online shop or simply download a PDF file.

Prelude:

Mary Shelly is one of the earliest writers of the science fiction genre, and Frankenstein is probably  the first book in the genre to lack magic or fanciful elements and to be based on science alone. In fact, Frankenstein is also a progenitor to the horror genre in films. There is a lot of backstory to this particular book, also a few controversies, huge pile of speculations and the book had garnered a lot of rejection in the literary circles as well as the then society in general. Surely its Wikipedia page is worth the read…

Fun Fact: Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote this book from which probably spawned the modern science fiction genre.

While you read the book, it is apparent to you why it is regarded as a Classic; it’s perfect in so many aspects and as I have emphasised earlier, original in its idea. The prose is unexpectedly beautiful for a book whose subject is gore.

Content:

Victor Frankenstein is introduced to the world of alchemy and natural science by a few theoretical books written by scientists who lived thousands of years ago. He has marvelled at the wondrous workings of nature from a young age and develops a deep awe for these old-age scientists and their methods.

In his pursuit for knowledge, our genius scientist becomes a pioneer for a lot of things. His knowledge, his capabilities increase and with that his ambition too. He remains unrestricted and forays into different fields of science like chemistry and anatomy.

While working on dead bodies he figures out the secret to life. I am leaving out many details here but ultimately Dr.Frankenstein brings his vision to life. He is about to fall in love with his capabilities when he notices the hideousness of his creation, and is revolted by it.

The monster, upon realising that he has been shunned by his creator, sets out to hurt Dr.Frankenstein in every way that he was hurt, snatch away everything  from Dr. Frankenstein that he was denied.

Characters:

Well, you already know Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his Monster. The third main character is Robert Walton. Walton is a traveller, an explorer to be precise, and it is through his letter’s to his sister that we hear the story.

There is Dr.Frankenstein’s family, his love interest- Elizabeth, his friend- Henry, and a family in a remote village which are all secondary characters that drive the sub-plots.

I love how Mary Shelly brings every character to life; she describes their mannerisms, portrays their nature. You connect with them, you like them and you feel bad when she kills them off ( oopppss!Spoiler.My bad).

In fact, the only characters that are truly unlikeable are our tragic heroes Dr.Frankenstein and the monster. This book comes from the Romantic Era; the significant characteristics of this age were, firstly,the authors dwelled more on their character’s emotions & thoughts than their actions. Secondly, they had atleast one tragic hero, a guy who through his own tiny flaw or misjudgement or tiny misfortune ends up losing every good thing. The readers are left feeling sorry for him because apparently he paid a lot more than he should have.

Our hero and anti-hero are no different. I am sorry if I sound condescending. I personally feel the concept of a tragic hero, though interesting, the portrayal is shallow and at the end of it I just think- ” Bro, you had it coming…”

I am yet to meet a tragic hero that I really sympathize for. If you happen to know any, tell me about them.

Writing:

The prose is smart, eloquent and the imagery is…you see for yourself!!

“I [roamed] through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills, to barricade the valley. The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it”

This is where Victor is right before he is going to confront the Monster. His state of mind and his emotions are often weaved in the writing compelling the readers to feel what the characters feel.

 

Conclusion:

It’s surprisingly refreshing. It dwells on emotions but hasn’t got an ounce of drama. And like I said earlier, it deals with gore and horror, but somehow is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

SnapShots: To My Bully

We have all known bullies; either we have seen them, met them or had the unpleasant experience of being bullied by them. But I have befriended One.

Dear Bully,

When I first met you, it was the first day of school. I smiled at you because that’s a nice thing to do. You smiled back and I took it as a start of something new.

Yes, it was new indeed. I was never a part of a pack of wolves before.We were four; four powerful, toxic girls, but I laughed the hardest, I daresay. And became more like you everyday.

So, dear bully, one day when we huddled together and poked fun at him, I had to stop laughing. To see why he was quiet. You shouted out your slurs but he stayed still. His eyes were blank, you said he is just playing dumb. I felt depth in them but you said he is too cowardly to retaliate. I believed you. You are my friend, you see, I truly loved you.

As days went by, I saw you mock him in corridors, in canteen, in class. You were so mean, and so was I. I saw you befriend beautiful people, intellectual people or anyone you could use; you  are like the sweetest drop of dew. But people who didn’t fit in either category, you mocked them.

Whenever you were in a good mood, you mocked. And I laughed.

With a few we were openly enemies; they retaliated with hate. A few were nasty like us but intimidated by us, they pretended to be nice and we pretended too but mocked them the hardest. Many stayed away from us; their indifference made us huddle closer into a gang. You said it was all fun- we are friends, right? Wouldn’t we make fun of each other as well if we did something or looked somewhat stupid and weird?  I believed you. I ridiculed and made fun of people too. I insulted others for you and the gang. I embarrassed people for you and the gang.

What we didn’t understand was that we were not laughing with them, we were laughing at them. Deluded we are. Our age, our beauty, our skills, our talents, our attitude we were so deluded by these. We failed to see the innocence in his eyes. We failed to see the dignity in his silence.

Dear Bully, when you mocked me, I would have believed you were just being goofy, if it was not for the spite in your words and cruelty in your tone. I was hurt. You see, I loved you. You were a friend to me. I never thought I could be at the receiving end, atleast yours. I didn’t leave… because guess who turned out to be a coward.

THE TIME-KEEPER by Mitch Albom

A penpal of mine introduced me to this book and the author. It sort of had a calming effect on me, like that of sea waves.

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The Time Keeper is an inspirational fiction novel written by Mitch Albom. It was first published in 2012 and has been in  reprint ever since. You can easily find the book anywhere in any part of the physical or virtual world.

Prelude:

Mitch Albom says that he wants to “provide hope and inspiration to his readers as they have provided to him.” And hope and inspiration are the essence of this book. With The Time Keeper he tries to discover the meaning of time.

When we think of inspirational books,whether fiction or non-fiction, we expect them to be preachy, unsparingly philosophical or downright unrelatable. I put the book down initially thinking it would be filled with cliches that mock the genre , vague reflections and rootless insights. I have read inspirational novels that made me feel like I have been listening to a self-important jerk for hours.

Well, we might even take it to be like one of Paulo Coelho’s books. But don’t. His books are sort-of mystical while The Time Keeper is magical.

Content:

The story is essentially about Father Time- the first person on Earth to measure time.who began to count everything from his own breathe to pebbles, sticks etc., and who eventually  ended up counting hours and minutes.

An Old Guy in long, white beard(read: Supreme One) is keeping a close watch on Father Time[DOR]. When Father Time, out of deep remorse, tries to turn back Time, The Old Guy strikes and locks away Father Time in a cave where he is to wait until a certain time. Ages and ages pass and he has filled the cave walls with his story and listened to billions of voices seeking more of time or less time., until one day he hears two voices[SARAH and VICTOR], both of them are trying to make the same folly as he did- alter time. He is released and has to save them so that he may be saved.

Writing:

In terms of flow of text and clarity it is just ten on ten. The book is shifting perspectives, it is moving back and forth from past, present and at times future too, but not in one instance it seems incoherent. What I truly love about Mitch Albom’s style; that which makes me read more of his work is this subtle and simple thing he does. He puts the wisdom before you just as it is. Just one simple sentence and it unleashes a stream of thoughts in your mind.

For example- “But a desperate heart will seduce the mind.”

Yeah, these are very obvious but presenting it in a way that is not explaining or persuading  but simply telling is what makes it impactful.

Coming to characters. Dor, Sarah and Victor are all complex and relatable. You may love them, dislike them or pity them, but you will feel connected to them.

Conclusion:

Overall, it is an engaging plot. You won’t probably come out of it with more appreciation for time, but you will love the time you will have spent on the book.

 

 

 

Snapshots: Another Morning, A Smiley and The Ticking Clock

7:15 am. Nadia knew she couldn’t hit snooze anymore. But she hit it anyway. “Last 5 minutes. I won’t take a bath”

7:35 am. Officially late. May be too late even. She snapped her eyes open. She “dismissed” the alarm and slapped her phone screen-down on the pillow with frustration. With some strength from her belly and arms, she sat in her bed facing the wall clock.

” 25 minutes… I really don’t have time for a bath now. 10 minutes for assignment. 5 minutes for changing clothes and for breakfast. 10 minutes to get to the bus-stop.”

Nadia threw the comforter aside and pulled out her assignment papers and pencil from under the bed. As if the reading , re-reading and staring at the question last night wasn’t enough; she reads the instruction again.  As she reads the first words, the following words form in her mind. She knew exactly what she has to do- write a limerick.

She groped for words. She came up with ideas and then shot them down. After a little more thinking and over-thinking she decides to skip the English class today. She shoves all her books in her bag and rushes downstairs.

She climbs down the stairs, skiping one with each step. She makes a final jump anticipating the floor of the dining room ahead, and eventhough she lands perfectly, the surprise of finding one more stair puts off her balance, she trips and crashes into her mother’s wheelchair. The wheelchair stops at a distance while Nadia is struggling to get up.

The loud thud reaches her father. He comes out of the bedroom, soap dripping from his hands.

“What are you upto?”, he says that as if he is making small talk with a co-worker, ” Are you fine? I am sorry I must have left it there…”

“Yes, NO! You… didn’t. It was…umm.. just..there….I..rammed..”

She is fighting for every bit of air now and soon it will be hurting in several places around her ribs and legs.

“Please just finish your breakfast. Be careful. Don’t forget your lunch.”

“Damn it”. It’s 7: 45 already. She sees her father turn towards the bedroom, walk into the washroom and close the door behind him. She had noticed the water stains on his clothes, the soap and realises that he had been giving  mom a bath.

She went into the kitchen to find  bread and egg for lunch packed. Bread and jam for breakfast ready. Mom’s soup is also ready but Dad hasn’t made himself anything yet. She puts together two slices of bread and fried egg together and makes a smiley face on the bread with ketcup. She leaves that at the dining table for Dad and does a time check.

7:50 am. Damn! No time for breakfast. Several siren go off in her head. She wraps the scarf around her head,  puts on the burkha and runs for it…

Snapshots- You Could Have Saved Us

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The last sun of summer was about to set. Abr- The Silent One, cursed the translucent moon.  A wild gust of warm wind swept her red, shiny hair away from her brows. She sensed footsteps behind her and knew who had arrived.

“The Bearers had anticipated an end like this…”

I heard Abr say that out loud. I don’t know what I was doing behind my terrace door so early in the morning; I remember falling asleep on the sofa. Hearing Abr’s voice on my rooftop was even more perplexing…

It’s all burning down. A bit of me turns stone with every bit of my city’s ash that the winds take away with them. Where are you, my creator? Why do I have to watch this?

I heard her thoughts like they were my own. I felt her tears sting my eyes. Was I doing this to her? I watched with her eyes the collapsing city..

Abr, my warrior. She will avenge her people and this ancient city. She will.  She has to. I whispered to her my plan. She is to find them and kill them. 

Suri- The whisperer, my creator. Is this how you truly are? Do you squash every bug that bites you? I am Abr. I have a sword, but I don’t kill. I will save lives now. How many I can. Rebuild the city from its ashes. People need hope more than vengeance. Those who harm others will get theirs…

Besides you planned this massacre. You have a habit of putting everything in a pot and setting the pot on fire. You like to destroy worlds. You drenched Abil’s heart with greed and malice. You gave him the dream of this city and when he couldn’t have it, you had him burn the dream. 

You wanted to see how far an evil person could go.  You wanted to look deeper into his heart and guess what, you dwelled a bit too  long in his heart. Don’t have pity for me. I am the hero. I will find my way. You watch. Just watch like you have did all this time. Stay here, behind this door, and with the knowledge that  you could have saved us.

— I woke up on my sofa, wondering if all writers have characters smarter than them and if these characters pay them visits every now and then. Or is it from reading too much of Illiad?

A Book, An Author, The Sadness

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” This event is gonna be so great. I will be signing away books to people all day. They will ask me questions, wait in line just to let me know that they loved his book…”  She wondered if this were his first thoughts in the morning today.

Then she realised that  not everyone thinks wishfully as hard as she does.

They were people here- at the bookstore, today. But nobody bothered to give as much as a second glance to the author or his book.

The very way that the author is sitting makes her sad- his eyes and brows all scrunched together, he holds his hands in a ball and keeps them rigid on his lap, he is staring at those hands. She hates it. She hates to see his shoulders all rounded up, his head bowed down and the fact that he is using that desk as his defence. Trying to protect himself from  eyes, afraid of what he might find in there.

So what the marketing stint failed. She wants to shake him up. Tell him to get over it.

Then she realised the sad part was not that no one showed up. The sad part is that the author thinks he wrote a mediocre book.  He will have to sit here all day even if no one comes, and she thought if he doubts himself now, how much destruction will he let it cause to his passion and confidence by the end of the day?

She bought his book but not for his sake. She had to know something. She read it.  And she knew that another good book got tossed in the corner. She wondered if she is ready to be an author just yet…