Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Story

Can We Take It?

Sitting by the lake, observing the evening sky change colors; birds chirp back home; people walk their days stress out, I think of the moments from my past. An old man I am, tired of life. For the first time I feel older than my age or rather tired for my age. Is it possible to accept hatred? Accept jealousy? Accept harsh words and taunts even after showing all the love that is available? But then I have promised to myself to remain the same for this relationship. I have nurtured it with care, correcting all the mistakes from past, taking care that I don’t repeat them. But then after being so nice and humble and so very caring, is it possible to bare the not so appealing attitude in return? Know not me.

I watch people walk around, some happy, some sad, some depressed, some worried, some thinking, some confused. And in between them I sit, by the lake, full of emotions. Sad, yet the tears just accumulating; they never fall out. That is the worst thing to happen, I wish I could shed the tears out and let it flow with all my sadness, but they deny and they win the battle to stay there; blotting the eyes or should I call it like a sponge waiting to be squeezed. Why is this dissatisfaction? I think; not once but several times? Suddenly I start feeling so helpless, so unworthy. As though I cannot meet the expectations set. And I am left with an awkward but familiar feeling that dampens your mind, senses and thoughts. And the question repeats - can one take these words, in return of so much love and care? But haven’t I promised myself to remain the same? And then I got to stick to them, isn’t it?

I am an old man with confused thoughts, tired expressions, yet I don’t show it and I hide them all. And then the time flies, as though nothing has happened. The hour’s repeat, moments re appear, events happen again. And I find myself again in same situation, no matter what I do or how I behave. And such act makes one to analyze people, which is the worst thing to happen in a relationship. One should never analyze partners and best friends; it does more bad than good.

I watch the old tree next to me, standing there, brave and strong, straight and happy. Beneath the tree on the ground lies leaves, flowers that had long left the tree, in spite of all the care and nurturing; in spite of all the distribution of the inputs. That’s the rule of nature, the flowers have to fade, and leaves have to change, fruits have to fall. Nothing is for permanent but “self”. I agree to this thought that had just occurred to me. And in spite of all this life goes on like the standing tree, until one day the tree has to be free, from all the leaves, all the flowers. Though it sounds very exciting, though it sounds very peaceful, one has to wait for it. Loneliness scares people, and thus we go on growing more leaves, sprouting more flowers and fruits.

Life is such a tiring journey and one has to live it till the end, happily and then no matter what is at the receiving end, I need to give all that I have and overcome the dissatisfaction that is bestowed. Only love can kill hatred. But then, one needs to be like this old tree, bold and straight in spite of all the flowers, leaves and fruits falling away one by one. Hopes to grow more; shelter plenty, keeps one going till that end.

Yes, The end: So peaceful yet terribly lonely.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Hours - The film

If you have not read the previous posts from this series, read Mrs Dalloway

The Hours -

One evening, Very depressed, very sad, almost lost on a battle, all I wanted to do was get some good movie and put myself into some reel life to escape reality. VCD of the movie "The Hours" caught my eyes first at the CD store. All I knew at that point about the movie was "Nicole Kidman" had won Oscars for her role in it. So it definitely was my first choice.

I came home, played the movie. The movie opens with the suicide of VW in 1941 after she writes a note to her husband. Then it unravels one day from life of three women from different times; unknown to each other, yet connected through a novel- Mrs. Dalloway.

VW (Nicole Kidman) from the year 1925, England has just begun writing her novel "Mrs. Dalloway".

Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) from year 1952, LA reading the book, Mrs. Dalloway.

Clarissa (Meryl Streep) from year 2001, NYC, leaving a life similar to Mrs. Dalloway.

So there begins a story of 3 women in one single day, all three so different from each other, yet connected in a mysterious way.

VW- Struggling to fight her insanity in this so called sane world which is no less than custody.

Laura- Is married with a kid and pregnant with another who wonders is this all she wants from her life? She feels lost in midst this so called perfect world of being a wife and mother.

Clarrisa- So much like Mrs. Dalloway hides her sadness beneath a blanket of smile. Throws party to celebrate and enjoy the moment, yet submerged with immense dissatisfaction bothering her this day.

So what does this movie end with? A note that one can take back, to love life for what it is, to live it in a way you want and to respect life to the fullest and then finally put it away. It tells you to live the hours, the moments, right there, right then. It tells you to follow your dreams and make the best decision in life which can vary at times based on the circumstances.

So after watching this movie, I still recall the reaction on my face, Stunned. I knew this had a solution for some or most of my problems, there was so much to convey and I felt so touched, yet I struggled to understand more about the characters, because I knew nothing about VW or her novel. So definitely I had lot of loose ends to be connected. Next day I went to the net and read so many reviews on the movie, novel and Mrs. Dalloway and of course VW. Then I came home and watched the movie again. So clear it was now, it felt as though I was going through a reincarnation. Since then the movie, the novel and the author, all three has influenced me in a beautiful way. It was a beginning of new “me”; a better “me”

Even today, when I am sad, when I am gloomy, I love to watch some selected movies. I think till date the most watched movie of mine during such lonely, sad times has been "The Hours" and following close is "Page 3". Page 3 again fills me with strength to accept reality and move on with life loving it for what it is.

I would like to end this post with a quote from VW –

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.
-Virginia Woolf, Diary, 17 February 1922

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
- VW

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mrs. Dalloway

(Please read about VW first, which is the first post on this series.)

Mrs. Dalloway is a story of one woman in a single day of her life. The novel opens with the first sentence - "Mrs. Dalloway said she shall buy the flowers herself." - Shows, so much of brightness, so much of hope, so much of possibility.

And then the lady walks past the Bond Street, London, and as she observes every thing that happens there, slowly the author shapes her character and her state of mind.
As said earlier VW has used the Stream of conscious method, which actually depicts what ever goes on one's mind as and when thought. Our mind does not stick to one topic or thought, it keeps drifting from one to another, and the author collects them as it is.

There is one situation in the book, where every one on the street are observing an aircraft fly, which leaves behind a lot of a smoke, that appears to people standing below as to form alphabets, may be a “M” a “A” or some thing else. Mrs. Dalloway waiting there, looking up at the sky wonders what the alphabets are trying to convey. Actually this shows the confusion in mind of the onlookers and their state of mind at that point.

VW, creates a character similar to Dalloway, called Spetimus. Spetimus and Mrs. Dalloway are similar in their thoughts; both are going through same type of voidness in life – A sense of Narrowing of their existence.” Spetimus hates doctors who claim that he is insane. He struggles to pull himself out from memories of the war, friends he has lost over the battle and in this process has weird thoughts; suspicions bother him. I somehow think that VW somewhere tries to put her words through the mouth of Spetimus. He says, he hates human nature, he says he hates doctors; he says that they don’t speak for his interest. As VW never liked doctors speak for her, decide what her interests should be.

I always feel that VW, created Septimus as an image of Dalloway, as an image of her ill thoughts, the death of who teaches Mrs. Dalloway to appreciate life. That’s the balance of life; someone’s death inspires others to value life more.

Mrs. Dalloway is a story that allows one to appreciate life for what ever it is. I still enjoy reading the words in the climax. When Mrs. Dalloway observes an old lady in the opposite apartment, making bed for the night, she would sleep for another night and prepare herself for another day. This thought fills her with zeal for life. After all life is to live it as it comes and then put it away. Sleep and prepare ourselves for the next day.

I have used this whole concept of Septimus and Mrs. Dalloway in one of my stories. Where the main character, a middle aged man struggles to cope up with his age, struggles to find a motive to live. And left with no choice but death, or that’s what he believes. I have completed the story by providing two endings – Septimus and Dalloway. Even though the decisions taken in both cases are different, the theme is same, the answer is same.

VW, had first thought of naming this novel as “The Hours” before she changed it to “Mrs. Dalloway”.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Virginia Woolf

Wow! I wanted to write this since such a long time and finally its here on my blog. A tribute to my favorite author Virginia Woolf (VW) I would like to have three posts as a series....first I would like to introduce VW. In second, I would like to talk about one of her famous writing "Mrs.Dalloway" and in the third; I would like to speak about a movie called "The Hours" which is based on her and the novel Mrs. Dalloway as well. And of course all these three posts will behold the reasons why I am a big fan of her and her works.

So here I go -

VW - some see her life as gift to literature, some as a fight for women rights and some as a struggle with mental illness. But for me VW's life is a story of immense strength and courage against the worst experiences of life and understanding of thin line between sanity and insanity.

She was born on Jan 25th 1882. Both, her father and mother had children from previous marriages. VW's growing up years was very traumatic with series of deaths. Her mother died when she was 13 followed by death of her step sister Stella. (Who looked after the kids after their mother’s death) Her brother Thoby who is believed to be very dear to VW died when she was young. VW had her first depression soon after her mother‘s death. And added to the grief of these deaths, one of her step brothers sexually harassed her, which probably is the biggest reason behind her disinterest in sex through out her life.

In spite of these mental tensions, in spite of few attempts of suicide, in spite of the pain VW's literary work is a piece of genius. But she was always angry about the fact that women had no formal education during her time.

And she quotes thus,

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Her book, "Room Of Ones Own" is completely based on this were she tries to argue the injustice at that time.

VW wrote many novels, short stories and essays. Among them Mrs. Dalloway is my favorite, about which I will talk about, in my next post. One of her short story- "Lady in the looking Glass -A Reflection" inspired me into a new world of writing that I never used or had read.

"The Legacy" is another story which probably is very easy to understand as compared to her other stories. I say that because, VW uses a style of writing that is not very common. It is called- "Stream of consciousness." Which is a literary technique that presents the thoughts and feelings of a character as they occur. Our mind isn’t stuck to one thought or event, it drifts from one instant to other, randomly; well these thoughts are collected as it is in her novels. So you would normally find her characters go through a lot of thought process and the image from their mind is displayed through magic of words.

VW's brother Thoby, began a get together at home, where he invited his friends from Cambridge, most of them were famous poets, writers or artist. Think of a time, when like minded people, with great literary background, sit in a room, sipping a cup of coffee or tea and discuss about their work, review each others writing, comment on politics or speak about anything that exists or doesn’t. VW enjoyed these talks a lot and of course who wouldn't love to talk for hours with like minded people? When ever I read an article on the group, I am so excited and wish that I had been a part of it too. This group is popularly known as the Bloomsbury group.

Depressions never come for one time and go away. They are not something that you fight once and then get rid off. They keep reoccurring again and again during lonely times. One needs to fight it till the end. So that’s what VW did, she fought it till the age of 51, bravely until finally one day she thought she had to choose death. This is why I see her life not as a failure but a success for 51 years. Definitely one would not have survived those years for such a long time and over that create wonderful works of literature and make a name out of her life, that the coming generation will read, discuss and write about, just like in this article.

VW left a note to her husband before she walked into the river near her house in Susex, which read -

I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be.

I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.


I can just go on for ever like this about her life. But then there needs to be an end for this post :-) So I would like to just say that VW, her life, Movie "The Hours" and the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" became an inspiration to me; to fight my battles in life and understand life with a new perspective.

Closing with some quotes by VW -

" I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. "

" If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. "

" It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. "

" On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. "

" Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art. "

" Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title. "

" Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. "

" Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life. "