I am Malala

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Let me start this one with few quotes from the book to take you closer to to this biography.

“I come from a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.”

“Then they told me about the call from home and that they were taking the threats seriously. I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me. It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. My feeling was nobody can stop death; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or cancer. So I should do whatever I want to do”

“She explained that the bullet had entered through the side of my left eye where there was a scar, traveled eighteen inches down to my left shoulder and stopped there. It could have taken out my eye or gone into my brain. It was a miracle I was alive.”

Such is Malala Yousafzai, the brave teenager from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She made it a point to raise her voice through whatever. Raised in the peace loving village, it transformed into brutal mound when the Talibans came and took control of their lives. Malala being popular for being vocal about her aspirations to educate and empower girls and women, received threats from the militant group in no time. One such time when she was returning home from school in a van, she was shot on her head by the Talibans. Malala survived. She was taken to England. And that proved to be the turning point of her life when she received the just platform to continue working on her beliefs.

The book is written in a crisp format and the turn of events are intelligently structured to keep the readers glued to the book.

It is an inspirational read and good break from the fiction to the reality.

After Dark- Haruki Murakami

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This is the first book that introduced me to the works of the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. For starters, After Dark will linger in your memories. In your mind. It has been 4 years that I read the book and the moods that were presented in the different chapters make me wonder about the way Murakami portrayed the night even today.

The book starts right before midnight where we find a young Mari smoking and sipping coffee while reading a book in a 24/7 restaurant. A little before dawn, she meets Takahashi, the trombonist. They exchange a minimal yet interesting conversation. Next, Kaoru, the manager of a “love hotel” where a Chinese prostituted gets mercilessly beaten by a customer. In the parallel time, Mari’s sister who has not woken up for the last two months is seen in her room. She’s sound asleep while the TV gets mysteriously switched on and she gets pulled inside where she is trapped with a masked man.

The few other such encounters along with Mari being the central character breaks into the morning.

“Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity … Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick.”

And this is how the city in the pages wake up to yet another day.

Murakami preserved a constant feel of eeriness and suggestive dualism throughout the entire journey of the book. The 1st person plural narrative was rather new to me. At times the narrator identified as “we” simultaneously giving the reader an idea of the different realms of the dark night.

Further when I looked up more about Murakami, I saw the first book cover and that literally spoke for the hallucinatory theme.

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I do not usually obsess over book covers (do not consider the do not!)

But after reading the book, I was really impressed by this above design. I am sure whoever read the book would agree!

Overall, Murakami found a new fan who bought this book on a train journey and literally kept the journey far away from being a boring one.

 

Amphan

It has been 10 days of the 3-hour long nature’s threat and we are still facing its consequences. Super cyclone Amphan had hit West Bengal among her neighboring few leaving us disconnected from the world completely for almost a week. Luckily my house is around the area where the diplomats stay so we did not quite suffer extensively. But major parts of my city, Kolkata was ruptured into a pool of electric wires, electrocuted flood water, and trees. The restoration is going on with full force. However, lack of manpower due to the corona virus has slowed down the process. There are still a lot of neighborhoods where there is no electricity. There was a lack of water but its taken care well now. However, the internet connectivity has been way too unstable. With hardly any reception on phones, no internet calling options, for sometime everything literally traveled back in time. 

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When we are supposed to work from home, the stable internet seems to be the support system. Without the WiFi, it was totally a doom for days. Devastating pictures of the country side made rounds and it was all heart breaking to see how the people lost their mud built homes. The farmers lost the crops. People were electrocuted and seen floating up dead. The Sunderbans were affected mercilessly. The picture of a dead Royal Bengal Tiger was symbolic.

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Another terrific picture: the airport was under water.

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The government and the local municipality corporations have been doing their best to restore the city into what it was. Although the lock down has been a major obstacle.

Interestingly, Amphan made me realize something- after so many trees were uprooted, I was amazed to see how green was my cosmopolitan!

Emma by Jane Austen

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Now this book do not really need an introduction, does it? But still, for few who do, this is a revolutionary piece written by Jane Austen. A little backstory here, I was never fond of classics. There was an instant irritation every time somebody told me how fondly he or she read them. This all happened because of Shakespeare. This is not a hate blog for this man, he is a genius, no doubt. But he always made me wonder like why has he made sadness the forte of all his published works. Most importantly, I thought for school kids it was quite a trigger to explore sadness for no reason! You don’t believe me? Do a flashback meditation (not sure if its a thing but I guess you get my point!).

Moving on, it was the time I watched Clueless that I learned it was based on a century old novel. That’s it! So then I got my hands on this book. With less pretzel like complicated English and a fresh look on the then society, this was an eye-opener. Emma really made it clear that beyond all the feminism and equality propaganda that make rounds worldwide, financial independence is something that will surpass every crux of revolutions of the womanhood. And also broke my inhibitions to like classics.

Emma by Jane Austen is surely an experimental and a brave take given the structure and the lifestyle of 1800s. Emma, one of the two daughters of a worrisome father, she finds herself in the middle of a country life that did not count in freedom for women. She is opinionated and considered a life without romantic attachments would be the portal to sanity. Well, that takes a comic turn in a different chapter with the introduction of Mr. John Knightley, her only critic! Her self proclaimed power to match making, she decided to get her former Governess Miss Taylor get married to the widower businessman, Mr. Weston. Even after she became Mrs. Weston, she still remained as her confidante.

However, much of her innocence and arrogance was at times debated to be the result of her personal secured finance and that she did not quite understand the struggles that people in the world faced every day. At times she is full of herself and driven by pride. Mr. Knightley surely knew how to get things going when she gets married to him in the end.

I loved Jane Austen’s dry satire and her strong voice through Emma. She addressed all the aspects of country life from that era with details. Be it masculinity, female empowerment, parenting styles, nature of families and friendships, class; Austen made her powerful thoughts come alive with Emma Woodhouse and other significant characters.

P.S. She talked a lot about food! For foodie reader, its an awesome tea table read (sorry for the poor pun but I just had to finish it like this!)

 

 

My Elaine

My mom and I have been inseparable since the time we were born. People say my father could hardly hold me in his arms. At times he would even buy my mom her new favorite piece of accessory. In return she would let him hold me and play with me after supper before going to bed!

And I grew up…..

Started going to school, made friends, did home works, enjoyed art and I was always the good student the teachers liked to use as an example.

Now I am a teenager…..

I go out with my friends and yes, I have the school’s cutest guy as my boyfriend. We spend a lot of time together. Amid all this, one thing never changed; my relationship with my mother.

It was my eighteenth birthday and I had to do something special for her. She deserved it. So I got a tattoo. It was perfect!

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Elaine- that’s my name…..my father will tell you the rest of the story.

My Elaine!

I held her blood stained and injured body and wailed like a wolf. All she wanted was to surprise her mother with a tattoo. She was not supposed to leave us on her birthday. The accident was an unfair turn of event in our lives.

Heidi, my wife became paranoid. At the funeral she did not let anyone else stay for her burial but me. Finally she shared my daughter with me. We buried her at the backyard as she wanted Elaine close to her even then. After that day everything changed…….

Very single night she would wait for me to fall asleep, only to go and sleep on our daughter’s bed. By the time the sun would almost rise she used to come and lie down beside me. Like a broken helpless, husband and father, I acted as if I did not know anything about it.

One year passed……it was Elaine’s birthday; the day we lost her.

Heidi did not come back to our bedroom. I walked inside Elaine’s room only to find myself in a juncture of impossibilities.

Elaine in her decomposed body lying beside her mom. She held her tight as Heidi slept on her arm with a faint smile.

It wasn’t a dream.

Soon after I called for an emergency, the para medics arrived only to declare that Heidi was dead. They too witnessed the unanswerable reality.

The house was immediately sealed and I left the town.

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