I pulled up my hoodie and popped a stick of peppermint gum into my mouth.
Like everyone else who haunted the subway past midnight, I knew that I had my territory cut out for me. There was Big Man, who usually haunted the Manhattan route but he was known to change his mind. And when he did, if you happened to be in his path, well it would suffice to say that it could get ugly.
But I handled my zones with the quiet efficiency and stealth of a cat. I didn’t run with the lions and I wasn’t big enough to fight them. But since we belonged to the same family, I could keep my distance and target areas which were least occupied.
Sometimes we had crews- the rough, street kids who came from poor in-the-rut families and found an identity in an art form that was frowned upon during the day but could own the night. There were other girls too. Some of them were even from well-to-do families but they were all united by a common cause. They wanted some meaning in their life.
I knew the people who boarded the subway during the day in their posh business suits and shiny boots, holding polished briefcases and an over-sized cup of Starbucks, scorned upon our nightly activities. But in the silence of the night, it was them and not us who went into hibernation mode. We were out.
That night however, I wasn’t feeling up to it. I called my friend Natalie, who was known as Rats because she was short and mousy and timid but very quick. Rats was the family I hadn’t had since I’d been a little girl. She was the most loyal sidekick i could have asked for. And we both did know that she was the sidekick.
So Rats came to pick me up and we went into our anonymous location under a bridge where we could get drunk and not worry about being in trouble because nobody ever came there. We usually stashed our stuff in a niche we had carved into the wall. We even kept a blanket there. But something was different today. I could feel it, as we settled on the shore.
‘Big Man is closing his network’ Rats began in a low voice. ‘He is thinking of fleeing the country. He’s bored, he has a lot of stuff. Or-‘
‘Or they’re tightening the loop?’ I completed her sentence.
It was a well known fact that some of the policemen on the fringes of our gangs operated with full knowledge of all the activities we sanctioned. Hell, they had their own share. Those were the dirty cops. But there were loopholes everywhere. Nothing was foolproof.
‘Well which is it!’ I asked in desperation.
‘I cannot know for sure. We need to find out. His people are wrapping up, little by little. Today I walked by the Dumpster. Its in pieces.’
The Dumpster was Big Man’s hideout. Piles of garbage, emptied tins of food, beer bottles and large plastic bins offered adequate storage space for him and his croonies and their stash. If they were breaking it down, it meant they were clearing their act. Or they had already been caught.
‘There is only one place we can look’, I said, watching Rats pull off her holey socks and run her hands over a large blister on her toe. It should have disgusted me if I hadn’t been used to such things, growing up as I did.
‘Where?’, she asked, distracted by her toe. Her world was simpler than mine. She didn’t see dangers until they were clear and out in the open. I saw the silhouettes as they solidified.
‘Its this place. Come on, we have to go now. There isn’t time.’
A little reluctantly, Rats began to put the sock back on. I got to my feet and pulled out a bag from inside the niche.
‘That’s our emergency stuff’, Rats said, her eyes widening.
‘Well’ I told her grimly. ‘I think this is one.’
We both had our backpacks on. Mine contained a wad of cash, a can of beer, a couple of bars of chocolate, a flashlight, a change of clothes, a rope and a small book that had some hastily scrawled contacts inside it. It was Rats record and she had made two copies because I couldn’t write. I could read just enough to pick out numbers and familiar words. She had gone over it with me carefully. Slowly. She’d been to school for a bit. I never had.
We didn’t dare take the subway with threats hanging in the air. Instead, we slunk past grafiti-covered walls and circled the Dumpster, trudging in the shadows until we reached a shop window with its shutters down for the night.
I took out the flashlight, and while Rats watched in amazement, I bent close near the wall besides the shutter. There was a small crack there. i shone the flashlight through it and blinked it. On-off. On-off. Then silence. Then on-off. On-off again.
‘What are you doing?’ Rats whispered into my ear.
‘Shh’ I told her. ‘I know somebody who is close to Big Man.’
And I did. Not many people knew that Big Man’s real name was Henry. Not many people knew that he had been born into a rich family, hit bankruptcy, been disowned by his family and fallen into shady deals. I knew this because somebody had accompanied Big Man down under when he had fallen. Somebody had been his right man for over a decade now.
I heard a gentle tapping. It was my signal.
‘Come on’ I told Rats and led her past the shuttered shop, down a back alley until we reached the back door. It stood ajar. Perplexed as she was, Rats trusted me enough to follow me into the darkness.
I knew my way here like I knew the back of my hand, even in the dark. We walked through quickly, I could feel Rats hot breath on my neck. We emerged into a low-ceiling room with a single lamp hanging from the roof.
But things were very, very wrong. There was broken furniture everywhere, the pillows and sheets were torn, cupboard doors stood flung open and the contents inside spilled out and most ominously there was blood. On the bed like somebody had been stabbed. On the floor, like somebody had been dragged.
‘What happened here? What is going on!’ Rats explained in horror, even more in the dark than me.
‘But I was aghast.
‘Allow me to explain, senoritas’ we heard an acerbic voice behind us and turned to find ourselves face-to-face with the hauntingly inimical figure of Henry aka the Big Man.
Personally, I was waiting a long while for this. The spectacular wizarding world that she created was so indisputably absorbing for children and grown-ups alike, so filled with parallels from the real life, lessons involving good and evil and doing the right thing and being strong, that it felt like she could never, ever do anything else with her career to top that. And I don’t think she can! Because nothing she does from now on will ever compare to what she did with Harry. But also, we will never be able to stop comparing.
However, I do not want her, like many other people, to go back and revisit that world. I don’t want her to disturb Harry anymore. I want the Harry Potter world to be frozen at its happy ending, tugging your heart whenever you think of it but making you believe that all good things come to an end and that is how it should be because nothing is good in excess. And further writings about Harry Potter can end up being a killjoy.
That being said, The Casual Vacancy was as different from the Harry Potters as could possibly be. The books smelt the same, yes (and let me tell you this, the smell coming from Harry Potter books is one of my favourite smells in the world) and when you started reading you could identify J.K. Rowling’s distinct style in the dark humor she adopted in this book. But in its content and in the direction of its storyline, this book was different, different.
The synopsis may appear a little boring: a member of the Parish council in a small fictitious town of Pagford, dies suddenly. There is no mystery in the manner of his death; he suffers an aneurysm. But his death creates a casual vacancy on the council, which is where our story begins.
The book is split in seven parts (yes, we know why J.K. Rowling loves this number). Part one establishes all the major players of the story; shows you glimpses of their dysfunctional lives, the things that they love and hate, the people they love and hate and the things that they are anticipating, with the formation of this casual vacancy.
When I finished Part I, my major observation was that I did not particularly like any of the characters. There were kids, yes. Lots of kids: Fats, with his complex philosophies involving ‘authenticity’ and ‘in authenticity’ became my immediate least favourite but there is a dark secret in his family life. Andrew is his best friend,the kid whose dad terrorizes the family at home leading to the breeding of a deep sense of hatred mingled with a desire to pay back inside him. There is Sukhvinder, the Sikh girl who is piteously and continuously bullied by Fats and callled a number of derogatory terms. There is Krystal, daughter of a junkie, neglected and traumatized but she has a good heart, despite her circumstantially developed habits of cursing, smoking and acting cool.
Pagford district involves within its jurisdiction, a part known as the Fields, which requires its regular funding and special attention. Krystal is one example of the kind of people who come from the Fields but Barry Fairbrother, the Councillor who died and is revealed to be exemplary in all aspects, remembered fondly by the people who counted themselves as his friends, is another. The presence of the Fields has split the citizens of Pagford into two and with Barry’s death, his opponents wish to fill the spot with somebody anti-Fields, who can take this region off their hands for good.
Most characters in this book are shown to take one side or the other regarding this view, but there are many who are focused on other personal problems. In their own ways, each of them contribute to the story which reaches a culmination through the presence of a crossroad of sorts, in the ending which, of course, I will not reveal.
One of the things that struck me most about this book, was the life of Krystal’s three and a half year old brother Robbie. Neglected, mistreated, exposed to a variety of lewd, unsuitable acts and words a child should never know exist, Robbie exists in a world of pain and suffering which he interprets through fear, through stunted development and a tendency to cling to his elder sister Krystal, who loves him in her own way but is not suitable to take care of her. Another thing that struck me, was the extent of self-loathing suffered by Sukhvinder, something I can partially empathize with and understand as being possible in this world.
In the end of the book, I was left with a sense of horror, with a feeling that I, like Robbie, had been exposed to a raw, hurting wound. One of the worse things was that everything in this book exists in our world and life is not a fairytale. Harry Potter was. But this isn’t.
So here is the warning. If you can get under the skin of these characters like I did, you wouldn’t be left with a happy, satisfied feeling in the end. Lord Voldemort was a tangible monster who died but the monsters in this book are dark, masked and bloody real.
And all the characters in this book come out vividly, you might like or admire a few of them as you read, but you will see the others in all of their flawed glory, you will understand them in and out and you will probably hate many of them. You will see them through their own eyes and through the eyes of those around them and appreciate the complexity of human relationships.
At the heart of this book is a political drama centered around people who seem very believable (but believable characters have always been a specialty with Rowling…I am sorry I can’t help comparing!).
I respect J.K. Rowling all the more for having written something so tragic, moving, hurting, evil, horrifying and truthfully from the heart. And when she says,
“I just needed to write this book. I like it a lot, I’m proud of it, and that counts for me.”
“I think it’s braver to do it like this. And, to an extent, you know what? The worst that can happen is that everyone says, ‘Well, that was dreadful, she should have stuck to writing for kids’ and I can take that. So, yeah, I’ll put it out there, and if everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live. I will live.”
I will just say that I do respect her and I don’t want her to go back to wizards, no. I want more striking, shocking, different books from her!
‘You don’t want to hear talk about books!’ I said in an unenthusiastic tone .
It was alarming how little things seemed to matter when you were numbed with pain. Everything took on a different dimension, feelings and emotions that would otherwise slice through your heart seemed to matter lesser and lesser, the more you welcomed pain.
I was no stranger to pain. It oozed through my body, flowed under my skin. It broke onto my surface. I wondered about every smile simmering on every face that went past my own. I thought, what in the world could make them so careless and so unbroken? Were they impervious to their own short-comings? How could someone love themselves in this never-ending, accepting way? Did they not explore the deepest, darkest parts of their life the way I had done?
But it seemed irrelevant in the cold and the darkness. Buried under the folds of a shawl, high up on the cold, musty floor where nobody ever stepped, I had built a small, safe place where I could come to mop in private. I was on the brink of a revolution but I did not know it.
Everything in my life hung from a single thread and that thread was swaying dangerously close to breaking point.
And books? Where were the books? I had spent my childhood reading through a vast collection of books that had opened my heart to the world of imagination and enchantment. I had never thought that par of my life would ever be endangered.
And yet here I was a couple of decades later, fighting so hard that I couldn’t breath at times. Wanted so badly for the pain to stop encroaching upon every aspect of my psyche.
But I was no stranger to pain. It broke out in spells which spasmed through my body and I questioned my life. Why was I here? Was there a reason or was it only to suffer?
A happy, carefree childhood lay behind the smokescreen of my past. I knew that back then all I had wanted to do was to grow up but that had been the very wrong thing to wish for, as well. Now I wondered if it was the fault of a ten-year old girl for the way things turned out? How could I blame her, when she was so small? How could I blame anyone else either, when they didn’t know?
They didn’t know how cold the hands of darkness could be. They hadn’t been gripped by it. They hadn’t felt themselves loathed by it.
And this wasn’t a fairy tale. This was not a musical Hindi-movie where songs broke out of dramatically ornate settings whereas real life existed only in the banality of routine and whenever I wished for something different, it was never positive. No, this wasn’t a fairy tale. Real life was a struggle, right from dragging yourself out of bed every morning, wondering how you could let today be different but knowing inside of you, that you were too complacent to change a single thing and you were caught in a deep rut. Knowing and accepting deep inside of you, that what you needed was somebody who could talk to you and explain, point-by-point, why and how the universe worked to take you to a place where none of this mattered, where life was as wondrous as dreams.
And day-after-day I lived through that nightmare, but when it began to vanish I let it. Never did the haunting whispers of those days come back to mock me when I was walking through sunshine, but the moment the sun fell, they would be back, all bunched up together. Like hyenas that come out only at night. And I akined them to hyenas because they were sly and I couldn’t see them coming. And they were ugly.
So I hid in my tiny haunt where nobody ever came. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, other people were too afraid to face the darkness inside them. Unless they faced it, they couldn’t be crumpled by it and life was smooth. Once they saw the monsters, everything changed. I was remembering the Facebook post,
“We stop looking for monsters under our bed when we realize that they are right inside of us.”
Well, I had found mine. Others were still looking outside, but not me. Not any more. I knew how ugly the world was and how my insides pressed against their tiny cage while the universe beckoned. But this was it. There was no escape from the trivialities of life until death got to us.
It was like Rowling is saying in her new book,
‘Fucking and dying. That’s life.’
Except that I wouldn’t take fucking in its literal sense. Fucking is being in a mess. Its being so disturbed by the ugliness that greets you, that you forget to see the beauty.
And I couldn’t remember the last time I had written something, or wanted to write something. I could easily think of writing as something I had done in the past, something that had come to me as a child and gone away as I grew. And that was all right. It wouldn’t have mattered. Except that I didn’t know what else to be. I didn’t know what else to do, if not write. I didn’t know what else I was. I knew I had a good heart. A very good heart, a little too good for existence. And I couldn’t let it rot, even though of course, I had tried. How could I not have, when the world was so evil! But I didn’t know what else to do to tap into the fiery energy that had once allowed me to write from my gut. Not my heart, but my gut. That was where my real ‘voice’ lay. The voice that was trapped now and couldn’t find a way out.
‘You don’t want to hear talk about books!’
But that was all I knew to talk about! What else did I know? I didn’t want to share the details that flew sordidly through me. They weren’t as beautiful as I had wanted them to be when I was smaller, willed them with a force I wasn’t sure I had ever possessed.
I didn’t have the grace of femininity that I saw in actresses or even some girls around me. I did not possess the bewitching skill. I was clumsy in so many ways and I broke stuff and the only thing I had done exquisitely for as far back as I could remember, was to write. I wasn’t pretty but my words always had been, even when I was small and they weren’t refined, they had seemed amazing to me because I loved that aspect of myself.
That was when I saw it, Tucked as I was beneath layers and layers of disastrous emotions, living with troubled detachment in a world gone wrong, living without friends and without rescue and wondering who on earth would even want to rescue me and overcharged with the thoughts of “someone-somewhere-would”. That was when I saw it. The ghost that was breaking me down. It lived in my small, safe place.
My small safe place was haunted.
My small, safe place was a haven for the most dismantling of all notions that a person can have about themselves: self-loathing.
My small, safe place had a ghost and that ghost began to come in my dreams as a very real entity that would follow me around and flash lights through mirrors and cling to me and tell me that I was the only one who could save it and free it and let it fly off. Not somebody else, somewhere in the near or far future. But ME. Right here, right NOW.
ME, I. The power of these words came to me in a manner no amount of Ayn Rand reading would ever have allowed. Because this was personal.
In my mind’s eye, I saw Howard Roark, architect, the way I had seen him when I had first known him. He was immovable, unchanging, intent. He WORSHIPED everything he built. That work was his tribute to his life and his body, his limbs, his working heart, his limbs. He was empowered and empowering.
Shame on you Lance Armstrong. Years of lying, cheating, doping, meticulously planning your tactics, letting others take the fall for you, lashing out ferociously at whoever told the truth and letting your fans believe in everything you did. And now on Oprah, you tell the truth when your career is in omnishambles around you.
Comparing your defiant expressions back from when you were denying the truth, to the one you wear on Oprah’s would make it harder for your ex-followers to digest your platitudinous confessions now.
I’ve already told you that my goal is to read 50 books this year. I realized I have been propagating this goal (or resolution) frantically, all the while believing inside me that it is quite unattainable. Well, at any rate I am currently on track, having finished Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
Written in 1947-48, this book talks of a negative utopia. Be forewarned, this book can drain all optimism out of you. Even though we are in the second decade of the twenty first century now and this book was written in the middle of the last one, when the world was struggling to emerge from a complex political scenario and questions regarding the best form of governance were far from reaching any culmination, the mere idea of the kind of world this book represents can be very scary.
Winston Smith lives in Oceania, which is a nation (for want of a better word) ruled by the iron hand of the Party. The Party is headed by Big Brother, who may or may not exist but is the symbolical representation of everything the Party represents.
These slogans may confuse you at first, but as you read through the book, they become clearer.
In this superpower of Oceania, the language of Newspeak is officially used. The fundamentals of this language can be understood through the following passage in the book:
“It is a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good” for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well-better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still…..”
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word…”
And in Oceania, thoughtcrime is also severely punishable. Your every move is monitored from the moment you wake up until the moment you turn off the lights at night, your facial expressions and gestures are studied and can be enough to convict you.
And what is done to traitors? They are “vapourised”. All proof of their existence is destroyed, their records cease to exist and people who knew them pretend they never did, because otherwise the same thing could happen to them.
Children are trained to report their parents and be loyal to the party. Women are taught that sexual intercourse is nothing but a duty towards the party and is thus a necessary evil.
There are four ministries in Oceania; Winston works in the Ministry of Truth. Their job is to ensure that every piece of information released to the public conforms with the Big Brother’s ideologies In other words, the past is alterable if the present changes. If the Party’s announcement on one day differs from what occurs on the next, every single newspaper or article or announcement that carried the older version needs to be altered in order to accommodate the present one. The world before the Revolution (which is when the Party is said to have come to power) is described as a dingy, loathsome place and everyone now is said to be equally distributed.
Winston is exposed to the true nature of the world. He wonders about a lot of things, he wonders about life before his parents and sister were ‘vaporised’. He wonders what it would be like to be free and then he learns that a sort of ‘Brotherhood” is in existence, fighting the current order.
Winston learns about the Party’s policies.
War is Peace. The world is divided in three almost equal superpowers; Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These three are constantly at war with one another. All three are highly self-sustaining because they control vast resources and need not depend on one another for anything at all. But if peace existed, stability would be impossible.
Mankind ran on a cycle of sorts. The high class held the power, the middle class and the lower class struggled for equality. But when the middle class staged a revolution, the lower class helped them. On defeat by sheer numbers, the old higher class became the middle class and the lower class was pushed back down wheras the middle class gained control. But if economic equality was attained, this hierarchy would be lost and stability compromised.
The only way to keep a balance was to be in a constant state of war, such that all surplus goods and services would be wiped out entirely in catering to war needs. Rationing would not be questioned and even the smallest of liberties would be highly appreciated.
Ignorance is strength. A totalitarian government which controlled all propaganda, all print, could easily control the strength of a nation. If a country is told that no other form of living has ever existed and slowly, all forms of protests are eradicated, all work which does not conform to this belief is wiped out, the common public will have nothing to turn to. Without a standard of comparison, how can a people know whether or not they are being oppressed? The trick is to control the past and the present in order to control the future.
And so, as Winston falls deeper and deeper into the tendons of thoughtcrime, he gets closer and closer to detection. Risking everything to fall in forbidden love with a young girl, he knows beyond doubt, that he is a dead man walking.
And then finally, he is caught.
He sees the true nature of the face behind the mask and he surrenders to it.
I have been spending the past three days doing almost nothing.
Well, on Sunday morning I started reading the novel 1984, by George Orwell and I finished it by around 4 am that very night. But it made me feel morbid, not in a hurting kind of way but like a settling heaviness on my chest. Oh my God, it was brilliant.
WAR is PEACE
FREEDOM is SLAVERY
IGNORANCE is STRENGTH
That is a really powerful slogan.
I would normally want to talk about a book I’d just read (this was also the first book I finished in 2013. I have been trying to read this other novel, but haven’t gotten very far in it).
So as I was saying, I have been spending the past three days doing almost nothing. I feel so lost. SO utterly, completely lost. So alone and miserable. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I can’t help wondering, what am I looking for?
All the thoughts and feelings in my life have been replaced by a desire to fulfill some sort of ambition. And I don’t even know for sure what that ambition is.
I see the rosy picture: a good job, a marriage, a pretty home, two lovely children. That’s what i want. I am very ordinary in that way!
And I am also ordinary in being scared and uncertain and confused about this future.
But I am not ordinary when I get upset internally like this and cry my eyes out and let other things control me. Things that shouldn’t. Emotions that I can’t interpret.
Oh God, I feel like I am trapped underneath debris from a structure that collapsed over me because I myself broke it.
Why did I not have strength and wisdom when I was 18-19 years old? Why did I have to do so much to complicate my existence in such a way. Things that still won’t fully untangle. Things that still make me hate myself.
Yes, I am in a phase where I hate myself. If anyone were to ask why, I’d just tell them to back off from my life. I might look like a hurt victim and I might feel that way too. But I can’t help wondering; do I deserve all this?
And that makes me even sadder because I am so completely ready to work hard to change things.
And my thoughts and feelings are so pure. And I have always been so vulnerable to the point of being painfully innocent in a way I wish with all my heart I no longer was!
And so I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!
I was on vacation with my family and I befriended a slightyly chubby but very sweet girl. We were sitting in the ground floor of what appeared to be a swanky bar but in a pretty kind of way; it was totally lit up and they had a staged circular platform where people were playing games involving blindfolds, dancing and eating things without using their hands.
Then you walked in and I thought you’d come up to me of course but you made your way to this girl who was wearing an intricate dress and looking very sexy in it. I was just in jeans and a tee shirt. You started walking with her to the upstairs (this bar-place or whatever it was had an upstairs and I excused myself and followed you up there. You both made for a table and I was right behind you; I just wanted you to see me. It was a small two-person table and she made to sit down in one of the chairs. That’s when you turned and saw me. I pretended to have just noticed that you probably didn’t want me there with you so I said ‘oh’ and I turned to walk away.
I thought you would stop me or come after me but you did none of those things. I wasn’t sure why you were out drinking with her and I didn’t like it. I went back to my new friend and she could easily see I was troubled. She introduced me to some new people and we sat around in a group.
And then it looked like it was closing time or rather, some kind of an in-time for girls and most couples and all girls began to leave. I saw you and her climb down the stairs and then you said to her (or she said to you?) let’s go to that spot on the bridge for a little while.
And I knew exactly which spot you meant. I pushed through the throngs of people moving towards the exit and got out just in time to notice you and her go away on a bike.
I thought I would walk and catch up with you. Because I just had to, of course.
But I couldn’t have walked more than 500 metres when this guard stopped me and told me it was unsafe for me to be walking this way alone so I had to turn and head home.
The next day I confronted you but you still weren’t done ignoring me and you didn’t say anything but you walked away.
I could see you wanted to hurt me for a little while longer. It never makes sense to me when you do and I am always equally stymied and depressed about it but later in the middle of some people (I had NO idea who was there but I know you were there with them) I talked about you in a way I hoped would get to you. Because somehow, it seemed, in those moments I had gotten over my shyness enough to talk about how I was feeling and I was hoping it would be enough. It always has been so far!
And I thinking of the many, many fights we had. Some in which I have been horribly wrong, others in which you have been horribly wrong. Its too over-whelming somehow and everyone’s always thought nothing will stand in our way, considering the kind of people we are.
But then, I can see that despite everything sometimes you still want to know how much and whether or not I love you. Sometimes I like to say, I do but I don’t know why. But I think I do know why.
You’ve made me a more mature person.
You’ve taught me to be serious about my career; somehow you have taken the child out of me enough to make me realize that there are a lot of things I need to do with my life and that I can do them.
Believe it or not, despite all the negativity, you are the one who has made me have confidence in myself. When I step out of the line, you’re always there to correct me. Its very irritating usually but change is always very hard and yes, I struggled with it too and maybe you didn’t know what was happening, all you could see was that I was being fussy. But it really was a case of Who Moved My Cheese?
The answer to that is YOU moved my cheese, so I didn’t have to. I had to struggle along through the maze behind you but you were guiding me, in your own way. I didn’t have to take all the steps myself.
You always are there to guide me. We’re in the age when career is probably the most important thing we’ve got and I don’t know what my future holds but you’re full of advice about things I can and can’t do and you’re always sharing with me everything you think I could need in the world.
And now its like, we have been through so. so much together that the world seems very bendable to me when I know you’ve got my back!
Every time you’re leaving to be somewhere else, it hurts, even if we’d spent most of our time together arguing about something stupid.
Once when I had to leave you, I cried so much because it hurt so bad.
This world is hurting us and testing us and I don’t want to give up. So sometimes when you’re testing me too, I just feel like I can hang in there until you’ll find me and feel better about me. And you always do, because so far you haven’t given up on Project FIX-HER. Yes, I need a lot of fixing. I can be stupid, I can break down, I can wail for hours because I feel like there’s nothing good in the world. I can have a hard time expressing myself, I can’t get past my own boundaries or move out of my comfort zone. I can appear to be indifferent or ungracious even when I’m not and I can be messed up for days and feel unloved and uncertain and untalented. So the project of fixing all this is certainly not an easy one and yet you do it, somehow! I think you deserve an applause for this.
Well and yeah, that will be the gist of what I said, but it was more heartfelt in the dream.
George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).
Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) is an NGO that undertakes development initiatives to impact positively the lives of the poor, deprived and marginalized sections of the society through a people-centred approach focusing on their participation, awareness and empowerment for sustainable development.
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