“The pain is smart enough to poet out a space, where bruises are verse and rhymes are moans, over and over again.”
Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything
Photo clicked in Paharganj, New Delhi.
I usually end my day with either reading or writing something. Today, I thought of welding the two worlds together, by writing about a book I read by my night lamp: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
Roy delves into sexual abuse, gender bias, and untouchability in a subtle and poignant manner, stimulating deep thoughts on these issues. The story is set in 1969, in the south Indian state of Kerala. She narrates the story as if it were unlayering the thoughts of the two twins, Rahel and Estha, with words which evince innocence – Orangedrink Lemondrink Uncle, light blue carsounds, bumpy red road, . The sentences are as rich as they are moving. Twins separated following an unfortunate incident, a loved one dying because of a wretched system, and a mother spending her last moments alone after a series of unfair events – everything transpires as if one were half expecting it, but shocks and saddens in equal measure as the story unfolds. “Who should be loved, and how. And how much” is a question which forms the nub of story. The question is posed when the twins’ mother leaks her “Unsafe Edge” that leads her “to love by night the man her children loved by day.” It is posed again when the society looks down upon it. And yet again, when Estha’s quietness and Rahel’s emptiness finally merges. Roy depicts the malaise of the characters’ lives through words which depart from the literal sense, thus evoking deep emotions in the reader’s heart. It’s a beautifully written tale about love laws, and how they destroyed lives. How the small things led to a sad turn of events and shook the big things. It is a story I read months ago but one that has stayed with and will stick around.
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I’m ticking along fine and life is sweet and I want for nothing, and the next I can’t wait to get away, I’m all over the place, slipping and sliding again.
–Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train
But time…how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe, we imagined we were being responsible when we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time…give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.
–Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Our frenetic pace of life, of the so-called digital natives, leaves us with no time for even cursorily glancing at the path that we’re so frantically pacing. As for me, I realised what havoc my lifestyle was entailing when I started spending more than twelve of my waking hours with my computer and phone. I turned into an irritable, lazy, and of course, unhealthy person who went without speaking more than 10 words to any person, in person, in a day. I couldn’t concentrate, and fell prey to a major creative-block. And so, I decided to take charge of the situation (after my ears were almost bleeding from my mom’s constant chiding). I translated my constant need to remain plugged to a digital device into a plan of action to help me connect to myself first. And while most of it may seem clichéd, I can now say from experience that it helped. Here are the 6 things that helped me keep my sanity amid the digital frenzy:
I have been waking up early and exercising for half an hour for over 21 days now. And it has done wonders for me, and not just in beating the languor of the start of the day on its head. On the most days I wake up cranky, I feel refreshed and inspired after a jog. New ideas strike when you start your day well. Starting this blog was one such idea for me.
And like we’ve been told several times: exercising regularly, irrespective of being a lark or an owl, generates immense gains in the health department.
Words have a cathartic power. There’s always something you take from what you read. Reading stimulates thoughts and makes you question things that you’d normally not bother about. So, what I did was to simply set a reading challenge for myself and put it up on Goodreads to keep a tab on my progress.
A healthy mind resides in a healthy body, and that depends on what you feed it. I start with the first meal of the day and never skipping it (even a bowl of fruit does the trick). I eat something every three hours and drink 6-7 glasses of water in a day. An interesting revelation I made is that when I keep eating small, healthy portions after right intervals, I don’t hog on junk later.
If cutting down on all the junk we love so dearly might seem too much, we can at least try to accompany our meals with green foods and salads. What’s also important is to have a buffer in your diet for cheat days.
As a student, I do most of my work online, and there’s no escaping that. But the key to time management is curbing that urge to log in to your Facebook, or watch that cute cat video on YouTube or Ellentube, if you may. So, why not assign an hour of the day for all that entertainment, and try to stick to your schedule? Why sneak that email during dinner when you can answer it easily (and without embarrassing typos) later?When fully immersed in writing that kick-ass project report, learn to politely say no to that friend who calls just to ‘catch up’. If they’re not calling for anything urgent, what’s the point when you’ll meet them the following day in college anyway! Productivity is directly related to prioritization and concentration, or so I’ve learnt.
When was the last time you took a walk in the park, or looked at the stars? If your answer to that question is somewhere around a month ago, we’re in the same boat. But I recently tried to change that. And things like a stroll in the public park, a walk to the stationery shop, have helped me appreciate my surroundings more. It has opened up my thoughts to interesting ideas and creative ways of putting them into action. So, try it before you dismiss it entirely.
Making some careful lifestyle changes also helped me take a step towards feeling internally fulfilled, and ultimately communicating better.
We often take our loved ones for granted, and subject them to the horror of our irascible selves when we don’t feel good. We bottle up our feelings and start holding grudges against one another. We may think we are A-OK keeping to ourselves, but we do need human contact. We do need conversation. We do need the lovely, often underestimated, exchange of different viewpoints.
All this led me to start a blog to give form to the million hums in my head, and to share with others what I experience as I find the tricks to mastering the art of getting by.
To the daily grind!
“To understand history, we have to go inside and listen to what they’re saying. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And smell the smells.”
–Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…
Every day she hiked up to her favorite spot, twining about the chartreuse green path she knew so well as a child. There she dreamed about all the things she wanted to be. There she waited till the swollen red Sun dived between the hills just like it did in the waves of the sea, in her dreams, that she wished to cross one day. There she lay on her back, staring at the leaden sky that she craved to light up with a million stars one day. There she yodeled, escaping the yokes of a cruel society. There she read her books, and played noughts-and-crosses, always winning against her own self that deviously thwarted her. For a while she forgot the way to her sanctum, only to return one day—to a sky clear and solitary, and a day full of possibility.