Wilde ( to the )Rescue


When human behaviour confuses me, I turn to Oscar Wilde for answers. The one who had nothing to declare but his genius!

Why the hell do people play mind games? Why cannot someone mean what they say and stick to what they commit in the first place?  Is being straightforward a sin of the gauche and the damned?  Is the world of ‘beautiful people’ full of sophisticated narcissists?

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken,” he  wryly tells me!

So percipient of Wilde to have noted that “… to love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance!”

And there it was, an answer to my query on being straightforward.

“..I usually say what I really think. A great mistake nowadays. It makes one so liable to be misunderstood.”

No one can teach you life like a Wilde classic. Watch ‘An ideal husband’ for more home truths.


Why is it that some of us live in a make believe world of our own self importance? As if the rest of the world does not exist or has no rights of its own?

How irritating to observe the Billy Bunters of this world, walking around, all puffed up  with their assumed greatness and superiority! The  grounds of Grey Friars of their preening smugness can consist of any profession or vocation- the similarity is striking in its singularity: they can make normal people break out in rashes with their falsehood.

Since I have a strong hatred towards hypocrites of any guise, and my detestation can grow by leaps and bounds in their near proximity, I  usually tend to keep off their luxuriant turfs , swathed with  the unbridled green  of their own petty envy.  (Whew! That does sound very profound!:)

Sighing, I turn to Wilde again, remembering  De Profundis, and his own deep anguish.

“When you are not on your pedestal, you are not interesting…” Apparently that was what Bosie, his former friend and nemesis, callously uttered during his illness.

I reflect on the sophisticates who will drop one like a horrendous fashion error, if one ever falters in social standing.

“Vulgarity is the conduct of other people and falsehoods are the truths of others.”



The Sardonic Plant


In  Nobel winner Grazia Deledda’s gem of a short story “The Sardinian Fox”, the reader is left entranced at the bewitching deception in a seemingly simple story- yeah, a sardonic grin on the face is more like it. Hemlock, after all is a sardonic plant which makes the person who consumes it laugh while dying. The sheer poetry of her prose, “..the  Spring sent its breath of wild voluptuousness up there,”  and the fascinating story telling style makes you yearn to read more of her works. Because, human nature remains the same everywhere.

It was indeed  about human nature  that I reflected, after reading Thomas Mann’s story, “Little Lizzie,” a story which amidst its author’s intentional and  grotesque drawing out of the innards of cruelty, hid sardonic laughter within. “..No human being could have been politer, more accommodating, more complaisant than he. But you unconsciously knew that this over- obligingness was somehow forced, that it’s true source was an inward insecurity and cowardice- the impression it gave was not very pleasant…his obsequiousness was almost crawling , it went beyond the bounds of personal decency..”

Of all perversities of human manipulation, the most penetrating observation I read as Amra – she of  the luxurious cunning glance-gets Jacoby to enact the degradation of his life- by power play : “I do not know, my dear friend, how to answer you. You behaved in a way I would not have expected from you…you disappointed everybody…it was your duty…”

One searing moment, I felt I was Jacoby! Ah, Thomas Mann, to read you in German!!! If this is the power of a translation, what would be the power of the original…

In the “Lift that went down into hell”, Par Lagerkvist weaves a stunning classic. Sardonic wit, it certainly  had aplenty- whether it was in the callousness of the adventuring couple, or the final wish of the devil himself. Masterpiece! (During certain scenes of La Dolce Vita, one had felt something similar too.) I also learnt that there existed a word called gracile.

I have Francois Mauriac to explore now..’A man of letters..’ I browse through the first part..

“Could she possibly be unaware of the fact that we authors never open a book that is one of our failures?”

Whoa! Hold on…what was this?

What was the context?Reflections  on a woman’s desperate attempts to get back her former lover, who  herself was, ‘his handiwork which he had tinkered at without respite and turned his back on..”

I grin to myself and switch the reading lamp on…this one needed a respectful reading indeed. Did it say that Mauriac was born in 1885? Damn me, I could have sworn…well, well..

The sardonic plant   blossoms in many a land across this beautiful earth ….whether the human race dies laughing after tasting it or dies fighting without realising it,  is the only question left.




Parallel Worlds


My elder one smirks when Mr Bennet comments on how Elizabeth Bennet will risk losing one parent whether she chose to marry or deny Mr.Collins, and  she shakes her head disbelievingly when Darcy declares that he had chosen Elizabeth against his better judgement (Really, as in really?) I grin to myself : that feeling of having a sensitive companion is ineffable. Considering that till a month before she thought “Pride and Prejudice” was “amma material”, it was a welcome change!

“Not bad, eh?” she comments after we watch all possible versions of Jane Austen’s classic as available in you-tube. Only the little girl is annoyed at why we laugh at certain places, because she does not find anything funny. I tell her that though many of her unwittingly rendered remarks are ironic by nature, her brain is  technically not developed enough to appreciate subtle irony. She snorts in response. Even Lydia could not have rendered the expression better.

“I thought you knew only boring stuff…” my daughter says, as I grin. “Try watching Jane Eyre now and revisit the book,” I opine.

Ahh, if you start me on classics my girl, we will show you that marvels exist not only in cosmos but on dear old Earth. “Sometimes it is necessary to read stuff totally unconnected with your major area of interest,” I suggest quietly.

“Yeah, amma, you try reading Roger Penrose for a change. You read too many short stories.”

I search for Anatole France’s classic short story, “The Procurator of Judea” and read the ending aloud: Pontius Pilate contracted his brows, and his hand rose to his forehead in the attitude of one who probes the deeps of memory. Then after a silence of some seconds: “Jesus?” he murmured, “Jesus—of Nazareth? I cannot call him to mind.”

My daughter raises a quizzical eyebrow. Then she says, ‘Wow!Cool!’

Indeed. And about time too. And she has not even started Faulkner.

“There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt  of in your philosophy

Old amma scores this time.