Last night I lay awake thinking

That feeling sad isn’t so bad. For one thing you don’t have to ever feel scared that something will happen to take away your happiness. You can live without that fear and you can go ahead and imagine the worst because, according to you, you’re probably not that far from the worst anyway. Happiness is fragile – this has to be something everyone knows. It takes far more work to keep, and as you get older it takes even more work to keep you at the same level of happy. When I was twenty a roller-coaster ride did it or a soup-in-a-bread bowl at Au Bon Pain or an orange cream smoothie or my first plane ride but now a four-thousand square foot house doesn’t do it, let alone a warm summer day, a quick subway ride, or buds opening into flowers bigger than you can imagine. But sadness, or any other feeling for that matter, is most useful when it isn’t inside you.   Feelings should be like a drink you are sipping. You roll a mouthful of the feeling around your mouth, learn its strength and flavor and intentions, but you never swallow it. That is, you keep it outside you and not inside, and this is the only way you can come up with grand theses about feelings like this one.  That said,  I don’t think I’ve been tested enough with sadness to speak about.  If, as I suspect, I have not been so tested, I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t been in situations of true sorrow or if I have been in such situations but been too insensitive to feel it.

A House for Mr. Biswas

Reading Naipaul’s House for Mr. Biswas for the third time and loving it.  Such great comedy and also such desperate sadness!  See this line about Mr. Biswas being born:  “Some time later they were awakened by the screams of Mr. Biswas and the shrieks of the midwife.”  Calling a baby Mr. Biswas! So funny and lovable.   Some books you read, something turns inside you and you don’t know why.  They call to you.  You feel you know the author.   This book is really making me feel like reading again.  I’d gotten a bit jaded, been reading bits of books for a long time now.  Too many books lying around the house that I’ve started or almost finished.  I think I’ll have to admit that books which have settings familiar to me as an Indian seem to be appealing more now that I’m done with my MFA and reading mostly for fun.  But wait, I loved Bernhard’s Woodcutters too, and Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K.  Even in choosing what to read, one is always looking for something that resonates with oneself.

Little wee thing

Dogs and ticks
Mango trees

Enid Blyton
Days at the beach

A cow and a calf
Scraped knees

Playing with girls in
Sand heaps

Kicking a stone
Alone on streets

School fair
No money for treats

Skinny thing
So small and meek

Gone black with sun
Thin and weak

So scared, so sad
So naïve, so sweet

So desperate
To please and please

You’re dim and dark
In my memory

You creep by the wall
In a freeze

You never smile
You never speak

You never ask
For what you need

You’re loved to death
By me at least

Your mountains
My small-as-peas

I scaled your peaks
I made you me

We’d some good times
All too brief

But she’s getting closer
Don’t you see?

That Oldie there
Who looks like we

Limbs all slack
Heels like emery

How did she get
The way she is?

Grimace on face
Joy free

Bitter-sour
Whiny-weak

Can’t fob her off
Can’t shake her free

Can’t blast her out
To Mercury

Can’t run away
Can’t up and leave

Can’t loose her grip
On sanity

I just read

Somini Sengupta’s book The End of Karma.  Chilling stories of youth in India and the degradation that women still suffer.  It’s more than twenty years since I left India and some things have not changed.  How lucky I am to belong to that tiny slice of Indian female Indian population that got away relatively unscathed.  I roamed everywhere in India alone with what felt like little trouble though this was partly because I was so used to the trouble I just brushed it off.

Family reunion

 Family reunion

 Four sisters
 meeting after years
 their faces converged to their mother’s
 not in the features of course
 but in the look of bemused surprise
 that there wasn’t going to be
 more

— Inspired by my recent trip to Mumbai.

Evenings after dinner

I try writing verse to try to express thoughts concisely and accurately.  It also provides me with gratification more quickly than writing fiction does.   Sometimes I post my flawed, fledgling verse here.

Evenings after dinner

Sometimes, evenings after dinner,
when I am on all fours,
scouring the kitchen floor
with my murphy oil-scented rag,
having previously done the dishes and, 
before that, fulfilled numerous other 
household duties, such as feeding the children, 
pairing clean socks, like to like, 
making lists: drano, eggs, oranges,
all the while thinking,
I don’t want to be here doing this,
sometimes, only sometimes,
I think I ought to be more grateful
to my kitchen floor.  
It grounds me. 
It is not deserving of my disdain. 
There isn’t much as sure as this, is there,
that floors will get dirty and may be made clean again.  
At the end of another day of straining
to bring my belated genius to the attention
of an unconscious world, I should think
it nice to be given something, if only the
obliging squeak of a clean floor 
in response to my 
bare-foot step.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.