Never Let Me Go

A few days ago I finished reading “Never Let Me Go” by “Kazuo Ishiguro”. I basically flew through it and completed in just one and a half day. This book has a special place in my heart. It had this place even before I had read it. That’s why I have decided to talk about it. 

It was my best friend who had recommended me Never Let Me Go many years back. Although our taste in books were a slight bit different but we always discussed them with each other. But this time what he had suggested was a dystopian/alternate history kind of book mixed with a little bit of sci-fi, and these are the genres I am most less interested in, so I had moved it in my TBR instead of reading it instantly. Never Let Me Go was his favourite book of all time. It could change in future, he had told me, but at that point it was his favourite. Well he never got the time to change it. My friend passed away in May 2016 and he has left me his copy of it.

This book, as I have mentioned earlier, is kind of set in an alternate historical setup. We follow the story of Kathy and her two friends Ruth and Tommy. The story is told from 31 years old Kathy’s perspective who is a carer and she basically tells us about her growing up at a British boarding school called “Hailsham” and later on at the “cottages” and then as a carer. Ever since the start you can feel that this school and these children aren’t anything typical. Firstly, all of these children are what appears to be ‘orphan’. They don’t have parents. Secondly, Hailsham puts too much importance at maintaining good health of its students and also at their creativity. So from the beginning you kind of know there is something  strange going around. And then when you finally get the blow at around the middle of the book about what it is, it isn’t really a blow actually. You have known it from the start. 

I have never been interested in dystopian and science fiction. I have developed a bias about them that they can’t represent real life. I know I have been missing out a lot of good stuff (Margaret Atwood, for example. I am kind of ashamed to admit that I haven’t read anything by her till now. I will surely  change this in near future. I haven’t read Frankenstein too. There I said it.) because of this misconception of mine that science fiction and dystopian are just fast-paced action-packed genres. I fully know this is utterly wrong but we all have our prejudices, don’t we! So when I was first told to read this book I obviously threw it in the “later to be read” pile. I regret this now. Never Let Me Go is far from being a science fiction. Had I read it earlier I could have discussed it with my friend. This is a kind of book that leaves you in a trance for sometime after reading. When this trance is over you just want to talk about it with someone. I loved this book through and through. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and I can clearly see why. It has got a lot of layers and I have a lot to say about it but I obviously can’t over here because I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t read it and is interested in doing so. 

All the three main characters are quite unlikable. Ruth appears to be the one who is most irritating. We get Kathy’s point of view because she is the narrator but even she is pretty unlikable. And Tommy too gets on your nerves sometimes. But these are the reasons why I loved the book even more. Human beings are always flawed and the flaws of the characters just give them some dimensions.

Ishiguro’s prose is crisp. The language is not too far fetched. It’s quite simple actually but it has got depth. It’s beautiful. He constructs his scenes in such a way that they stay with you forever. There is an instance in the book where young Kathy is in her dorm dancing to a song whose lyrics goes like this: baby, baby, never let me go. She is holding a pillow to her chest and imagines that it is a child and that she is a woman who had earlier been told that she couldn’t conceive a child but she did conceive anyhow and now she is afriad that something will happen to it. So she is clinging to her baby singing “baby, baby, never let me go”. It was such a beautiful scene it just melted my heart.

I will leave you with a beautiful excerpt from the book to give you a taste of it. Cheers!

That  same  night,  trying  to  get  to  sleep  in  an  overnight,  I  kept  thinking  about something  that  had  happened  to  me  a  few  days  earlier.  I’d  been  in  a  seaside town  in  North  Wales.  It  had  been  raining  hard  all  morning,  but  after  lunch,  it had  stopped  and  the  sun  had  come  out  a  bit.  I  was  walking  back  to  where  I’d left  my  car,  along  one  of  those  long  straight  seafront  roads.  There  was  hardly anyone  else  about,  so  I  could  see  an  unbroken  line  of  wet  paving  stones stretching  on  in  front  of  me.  Then  after  a  while  a  van  pulled  up,  maybe  thirty yards  ahead  of  me,  and  a  man  got  out  dressed  as  a  clown.  He  opened  the back  of  the  van  and  took  out  a  bunch  of  helium  balloons,  about  a  dozen  of them,  and  for  a  moment,  he  was  holding  the  balloons  in  one  hand,  while  he bent  down  and  rummaged  about  in  his  vehicle  with  the  other.  As  I  came closer,  I  could  see  the  balloons  had  faces  and  shaped  ears,  and  they  looked like  a  little  tribe,  bobbing  in  the  air  above  their  owner,  waiting  for  him.

Then  the  clown  straightened,  closed  up  his  van  and  started  walking,  in  the same  direction  I  was  walking,  several  paces  ahead  of  me,  a  small  suitcase  in one  hand,  the  balloons  in  the  other.  The  seafront  continued  long  and straight,  and  I  was  walking  behind  him  for  what  seemed  like  ages.  Sometimes I  felt  awkward  about  it,  and  I  even  thought  the  clown  might  turn  and  say something.  But  since  that  was  the  way  I  had  to  go,  there  wasn’t  much  else  I could  do.  So  we  just  kept  walking,  the  clown  and  me,  on  and  on  along  the deserted  pavement  still  wet  from  the  morning,  and  all  the  time  the  balloons were  bumping  and  grinning  down  at  me.  Every  so  often,  I  could  see  the  man’s fist,  where  all  the  balloon  strings  converged,  and  I  could  see  he  had  them securely  twisted  together  and  in  a  tight  grip.  Even  so,  I  kept  worrying  that one  of  the  strings  would  come  unravelled  and  a  single  balloon  would  sail  off up  into  that  cloudy  sky. 

Lying  awake  that  night  after  what  Roger  had  told  me,  I  kept  seeing  those balloons  again.  I  thought  about  Hailsham  closing,  and  how  it  was  like someone  coming  along  with  a  pair  of  shears  and  snipping  the  balloon  strings just  where  they  entwined  above  the  man’s  fist.  Once  that  happened,  there’d be  no  real  sense  in  which  those  balloons  belonged  with  each  other  any  more. When  he  was  telling  me  the  news  about  Hailsham,  Roger  had  made  a  remark, saying  he  supposed  it  wouldn’t  make  so  much  difference  to  the  likes  of  us any  more.  And  in  certain  ways,  he  might  have  been  right.  But  it  was unnerving,  to  think  things  weren’t  still  going  on  back  there,  just  as  always; that  people  like  Miss  Geraldine,  say,  weren’t  leading  groups  of  Juniors around  the  North  Playing  Field.

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Dear Mahir: Part 1 

Last time I wrote to you like this was probably in 2010. For past few days you’ve been constantly on my mind. I hate to admit it but sometimes I forget about you. You slip out of my mind for months at a time.  But I love you.

I have been accused of not loving people as others might do. I have been told that I will never understand the highs and lows of a lover’s emotions because I have never fallen in love myself ( at least not in the conventional sense). While that might be true to some extents, nonetheless it hurts to listen to others say that you don’t know what loving is. That simply degrades you to something not human. I love. In the purest form I can. It might look like something else. It might feel like something else. But at the end of the day it’s actually love. 

I forget about you sometimes but that doesn’t mean you don’t matter anymore. People are unconscious about their breathing most of the time but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

I am twenty-two now. Four years older than what you were when you left us. At that time it felt like you were too old; a responsible and mature adult. It is now that I understand that you were just a kid. Eighteen. Barely legal. If I am doing the maths correctly, you would have been thrity-one this June. And here I am, just twenty-two, feeling older than you.

I wish I had that photograph with me. Didi might still have it. I don’t know for sure though. It melts my heart whenever I think of it. I am six years old. Ugly child wearing a white laced frock, hair cut short like that of a boy. You have lifted me up in your arms and one of my hands is on your shoulder. Didi is standing close to you on right, almost as tall as you. On the far right the two brothers are making faces towards the camera. There was something permanent about that picture. I will try to get a copy of it if it is still surviving.

Missing you, always!

TKTM: Part 1

tktm

Excuse the simplicity of this post, but some stories, or at least parts of it, need to be told in the simplest way possible.


Once upon a time there lived a young girl in some part of the world, about 9-10 years of age, who wore spectacles. She did not go to school. They taught her at home. For a few weeks every summer she was sent to her aunt. She longed for this little vacation throughout the year. It was all very refreshing for the little child, the flower-shop, her cousins, and Mahir. Especially Mahir.

This year too she was very excited for her visit to that strange world. Little did she know that something bizzare was waiting for her. Something she would never figure out whether to hate or appreciate. Something she would dream about even years later. Nightmares. 

Karun was the boy’s name. 

Read the previous post under TKTM here

Chaos

Below is something I wrote for a friend a few weeks back. 


As a drop of darkness seeped out of my vein and splattered over my existence and the very abyss of my soul, I whispered the same question again: is my darkness same as yours?

I see a drop of white oozing out of a wall of my room and slowly covering every inch of it. The calm, the poignant white.

I shuffle through the watercolour paintings I made as a child. Delicate little bird ready to fly; a leaf about to die. I stopped being a dreamer when my mother stopped having time.

We are no longer permitted to have favourite colours. We are adults. But once upon a time, green was yours and blue was mine. Your voice melted whenever you read poetry. Like a scoop of blue mixed with a scoop of green. Green is a kind of blue.

What is the colour of chaos? Of madness? What is it like to be blind! Pools of dark has now started to seep out from the whites of the walls.

Like liquid fire, thick black fluid trickles down my veins and my skin. It meets the darkness splashing out from the surface of the walls. Cortisol in my blood goes up. Colour goes out.

From My Journals

I was looking around my journal and I found this and I thought I should share it. It isn’t very old, just a few months older. Consider it as a work of fiction. Cheers!


One Thursday morning, contrary to my daily rituals, I found myself restless for a brief walk. It had been a stormy night and clouds were still concealing the azure sky. Air was crisp. Branches of trees, whipped overnight by the winds, were dancing like ghosts in the gentle breeze. Walking along I noticed the usual velvet soft grass on the sidewalks, no longer velvety, dirty in a dressing of mud. Water-logged pavements were making me feel sick. Just like my mood, everything was a mess.

As I walked alone I could feel the lightness of environment wrapping around me, but my air seemed to say something else. A gnawing ache of mind and soul was absorbing me like a sponge in water. Outside it couldn’t seem lighter, inside it was slowly turning onerous. I kept on walking, each step bathing me with more emotional and spiritual somberness.

If you have ever been to my town you’ll know how much of a sad place it is. Roads are dusty and when the wind blows in summer you can see clouds of dust burying houses and tress like monsters engulfing their prays. Dust hanging around like fog, dust blanketing the roof-tops, dust covering up books, beds and everything you see. Every unoccupied piece of land is used as a private or common garbage dump. Flies buzz around excitedly. Houses are built so closely together that you can jump off from one roof to another without breaking your bones. I hated that place. It had defined the way I was. I was a daughter, and a student, I had no identity of my own. I was an ornament, a tool used to protect the honour of my family, its dignity, and its respect. Moral codes and conducts had molded me. I was to behave like a role model to my younger siblings, to the older ones too. I was expected to merge in the surrounding environment the way yellow and orange and red of an evening sky mingle into darkness, slowly and steadily.

I had never questioned this hierarchy of social structure which demanded a certain goal from me and decided what was I supposed to do, and more importantly what I couldn’t do if I had wanted to remain a part of this personality that prized social acceptance. When I look back now I can distinctly see why I, an educated and so called modern liberal feminist, had never questioned these norms that not only expected me to behave in a certain defined way but also rejected the very concept of liberalism. I had no desire. I thought I was free. I was allowed to breath without any fear. I was allowed, in fact encouraged, to study, to go out with friends, to wear what I wanted. What more I needed? My parents had given me so much freedom and I was not to break their trust, why would’ve I? It was my duty not to shun them. I was a free young modern Indian woman and that was it. And yet there I was, walking alone in the woods adjoining my university, questioning the very matter I was made up of.

I sat down on a bench under a willow tree. Sun was now peaking a little through a veil of white foamy clouds, too shy to come out in full splendor. I do not know how many minutes I sat there, looking into the space as if trying to solve the mystery of infinite. I did not think of anything. I did not know where I was. Slowly I lost the sense of reality and my surrounding started to melt like a scoop of butter my mother heats for the cake. Drop by drop the entire universe was succumbing into me. Or, I was succumbing into it. In some distant alternate reality a bird crowed. Things started becoming vivid once again. I was there. I was alive. It was not too late. I needed to question. Not the world or the piousness of the society, no. I needed to question myself, the very existence of me. Was I living or was I merely a puppet whose strings were in the hands of some hypocritical social standards? Before being honest to my parents and the society beyond, was I honest to myself?

What had stopped me last night? Was it the fear of the world, a world which did not offer me a shoulder to lean upon when I cried, a world which wasn’t at the side of my bed when I was so sick I felt like dying? If the world didn’t care for me why was I to care about what it thought of me. Or was it the loyalty to my former boyfriend that had stopped me? The person who had once made me feel loved but wasn’t the same person now whom I loved back. Why had I restricted myself from letting go of something that had died years ago! Wasn’t it because I was a woman and I needed to preserve a respect and a sense of devotion in myself, not only to show the world but also in my own eyes? Oh how much of a hypocrite was I! Or was it the years old molestation, by someone very close to me by blood, the reason I had said no to Ayan the previous night? Was I trying not to impure him with my dirtiness when I already knew it wasn’t actually me who was dirty in the first place but my molester(s). Or was it the so called religious obligations? Wasn’t it a sin? I did not want to be sinner, did I? I knew the answers.

Standing up from that bench under that willow tree, my soul felt a tinge of rejuvenation. I knew I wasn’t confused anymore, which I had been my entire life. I knew I wasn’t a mere object, that I didn’t fell in the category of damaged goods which I had long considered myself as. I was a human. I had fears but I also had desires. Most importantly I had a conscience and my conscience knew what I had to do next. And It knew where I belonged that day. It was with Ayan.

Apologies!

I took a break for Mellifluous Misery without any prior notice. Bad attitude, I know. And I am not going to try to explain the circumstances leading to my early vacation from this baby blog who was just born. I realize no matter how legitimate they are, or they seem to me, but they are ultimately all excuses. And, I am lazy.

What have I been up to these past one and a half months?
Well, I was busy with college for one thing. Yes I moved out. It’s not a dream college and not very far away from home, but for the first time in my life I am on my own and I kind of like it. College isn’t anything special and neither is the hostel I am living in, and I do not plan to blog details about my day-to-day college/hostel life here. This blog is more about various stories from different aspects of my life and the experiences I drew from them; things I got to learn (or I refused to learn) and the way I got influenced by various people and places and incidents.

Although in 12 days I am going to take my first test this semester, still I’ll try to give Mellifluous Misery all the love it deserves. Fingers crossed!

The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms. – Muriel Rukeyser

Things K Taught Me: An Introduction

tktmLife is like a puzzle. You try to interlock the pieces together, in a hope that it would make sense someday. Secretly wishing that you would get to know this was the only way things had to be done; you try to fix the ruins of your living existence the same way it was broken apart, one at a time. It’s not a simple process. Each one of the pieces, you think, needs to be carefully analyzed and made peace with before you move onto the next one. But as you go on you realize some of the pieces are absurd. That you can’t make peace with them; that this wasn’t the only way but it happened for its own sake and you cannot do anything about it.

“Things K taught me” is a segment of my life, so important that it’s going to have its own category here on Mellifluous Misery. Karun was a boy of my age (six months older, to be precise) whom I knew in my pre/early teen years. I have not mentioned him even to my closest of friends. It never occurred to me. But for past few days, I have been constantly thinking about this guy with whom I have no contacts now. I think this is the time to look back at this particular part of my life. It can take years. And I can only hope that it turns out to be an interlocking piece and not something absurd. The latter tends to be more tormenting, or so I think.

Introduction

Greetings!
Of late a growing concern over my melancholic, lonely and soul shattering past has put me under a thought process. Is this what I truly deserve? Am I going to cry over the spilled milk for the rest of my life? And most importantly, am I utterly, purely and perfectly useless? I haven’t got the answers yet. So, for the moment I am a bit confused.

Besides the added confusion, I am a pretty lively person. Young, optimistic, funny and an avid reader… this is me! I have just started my undergraduate college, English major! Languages and literature are my life and soul. As Harper Lee has said and I quote , “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”. I have recently started learning Spanish. It’s a distant dream but we should never lose hope, right? And with these rays of hope and faith, let the journey begin!

To be or not to be is not the question. The vital question is: how to be and how not to be? – Abraham Joshua Heschel