നാടകമേ ഉലകം …

Brazilian-cat-strand-dec-1898-1

റേഡിയോ നാടകങ്ങൾ കുടുംബത്തിലെ സ്ത്രീകളെ ഏറ്റവും അധികം രസിപ്പിച്ചിരുന്ന കാലം. നാടക മാസമായാൽ, രാത്രിയിൽ ‘കെട്ടിടത്തിൽ’ പോകാം എന്ന ഫൈനൽ അന്നൗൺസ്‌മെന്റ് വന്നാൽ ഉടൻ അമ്മൂമ്മയോടും അപ്പച്ചിയോടുമൊപ്പം ഞാനും ‘അടുക്കളയിൽ നിന്നും അരങ്ങത്തോട്ടുള്ള’ പാതയിൽ മറ്റൊരു പിന്നാളി ആകും.
അടുക്കള വേറൊരു കെട്ടുറപ്പും , താമസ സ്ഥലം വേറൊരു കെട്ടിടവുമായിരുന്നു. രണ്ടു വീടുകൾ, രണ്ടു ലോകങ്ങൾ; ഒരേ തറവാട്. അത് കൊണ്ടാണ്, അതി രാവിലെ അടുക്കളയിൽ തീ കൊളുത്താൻ കയറുന്ന മുതൽ , രാത്രിയിൽ സകലരേയും സുഭിക്ഷമായി അന്നമൂട്ടി, ഭക്ഷണ പാത്രങ്ങൾ കഴുകി വെളുപ്പിച്ചു, വാതിലടച്ചു കൊണ്ട് അടുക്കളപ്പടിയിൽ നിന്നും മുറ്റത്തോട്ടിറങ്ങി , അപ്പച്ചി ദീർഘ നിശ്വാസം വിട്ട്‌ പറയുന്നത് :’ഇനി കെട്ടിടത്തിലോട്ടു പോകാം.’

കെട്ടിടത്തിന്റെ ചായ്പ്പിൽ, തമ്മിൽ നോക്കി കൊണ്ട് രണ്ടു ഈസി ചെയറുകൾ. ഒന്നിൽ അമ്മൂമ്മയും, ഒന്നിൽ അപ്പച്ചിയും കിടക്കും. റേഡിയോ തുറക്കും. ലോക വാർത്തയും, മനോഹരങ്ങളായ ചലച്ചിത്ര ഗാനങ്ങളും, പിന്നെ നാടകങ്ങളും ഒഴുകി വരും. പടിയിൽ ഇരുന്ന് ഞാനും ആ ഉപാസനയിൽ പങ്കാളിയാവും. അറിവ്, ഭാവന, ഉറപ്പുള്ള ദേശാന്തര വിശകലനങ്ങൾ…അപ്പോൾ, രണ്ടു പേരും, വായനശാലയിലെ വാരികകളും നോവലുകളിലും, ദൈനം ദിന പത്ര മാസികളിലും മുഴുകും. Multi-tasking ഞാൻ കണ്ടു വളരുകയായിരുന്നു; സമയത്തിന്റെ സമുചിതമായ പ്രബന്ധനവും!

ശബ്ദത്തിലൂടെ, കഥാപാത്രങ്ങളുടെ സ്വരങ്ങളിലൂടെ പ്രണയവും,കുസൃതിയും, വിരഹവും, വേദനയും, വീര്യവും, പകയുമൊക്കെയായി ശ്രോതാവിന്റെ ‘active participation’ ഉം റേഡിയോ നടീനടന്മാരുടെ നൈസർഗ്ഗിക കഴിവുകളുമായി ഒരു സുന്ദര സംഗമം. എന്റെ മനസ്സിൽ പല നിറങ്ങൾ നിറച്ച ഒരു അമൂല്യ അനുഭവമായിരുന്നു റേഡിയോ നാടക ഉത്സവം. ഇപ്പോൾ, ഞാൻ വേറൊന്നും കൂടി മനസ്സിലാക്കുന്നു. സ്ത്രീകൾ, അവരുടെ space എങ്ങനെ സംരക്ഷിച്ചിരുന്നു എന്നത് ! ആ സമയങ്ങൾ അവർക്കു മാത്രം അവകാശപ്പെട്ടതായിരുന്നു. കലയും, കവിതയും, അക്ഷരങ്ങളും, അറിവും , നാടകവും ഉലകവുമെല്ലാം സമപങ്കാളികളായ അവർക്കും കൂടി ഉള്ളതായിരുന്നു…എന്റെ കുടുംബത്തിലെ സ്ത്രീജനങ്ങൾ ഒന്നും പറയാതെ തന്നെ എല്ലാം പറഞ്ഞു തന്ന പാഠശാലകളായിരുന്നു ആ സമയങ്ങൾ.

Arthur Conan Doyle-ഇന്റെ The Brazilian Cat എന്ന ക്ലാസ്സിക് – കഥ ബംഗാളി ഭാഷയിൽ സത്യജിത് റേ ‘ബ്രസീൽ-ഏർ-കാലോബാഗ്’ എന്ന പേരിൽ റേഡിയോ നാടകമാക്കി ശ്രോതാക്കളെ കിടിലം കൊള്ളിച്ചിരുന്നു! നമ്മുടെ ഭാഷയിലും എത്രയോ ലോക ക്ലാസിക്കുകൾ റേഡിയോ നാടകം വഴി , വായനശാലയിലും, മുറുക്കാൻ കടയിലും, ചായക്കടയിലും, പിന്നെ പല തറവാടിലെ ചായ്പ്പിലും നാട്ടുകാരെ ആനന്ദിപ്പിച്ചിരിക്കണം! അതൊരു നഷ്ട്ടപ്പെട്ട കലയാണ്. പറ്റുമെങ്കിൽ , നമുക്കതു തിരിച്ചു പിടിക്കണം. ഒരു വലിയ നോവലിനെ തന്നെ രണ്ടു മണിക്കൂർ കൊണ്ട് സിനിയാക്കാമെങ്കിൽ, നമുക്ക് കേൾക്കാനാവുന്ന നാടകങ്ങളും വേണ്ടേ? ഭാവനയിൽ കാണാനും വേണ്ടേ പരിശീലനം?

ഭ്രാന്തെടുത്തു പായുന്ന മനുഷ്യരുടെ ഇടയിൽ ഒരു സ്ഥലത്തിരുന്ന്, കണ്ണടയ്ച്ചു, ചില നാടകങ്ങൾ നമുക്കും കാണണം. അപ്പോൾ ലോകത്തിന്റെ പുറകിൽ പായാതെ തന്നെ ലോകത്തെ മിഴിവോടെ കാണാൻ കഴിയും.

Twisted Tales; Unvarnished Truths…

IMG_2106

The short stories written by Daphne Du Maurier when she was in her twenties – apparently rejected by the editors then – are now available for the reader.

‘Stunning’, is too feeble a word for her percipient writing! One can see the origins of  her eponymous heroine ‘Rebecca’  in a story ‘ The Doll.’ Now, that is a  truly breath taking story: apt material for any literature student who wants to research on gender, power play, and openly subversive writing.

Also, it is worth to explore the similarities of character in the two Rebeccas. The play of emotions, the hatred, the loathing, the desire, the love, the mystery and the jealousy. The heroine asks whether one can love someone to such an extent that it becomes pleasurable to hurt that person! The hero wonders whether he could strangle her to her death. The ending is….unspeakable! Ah,  definitely the twisted tale of Manderlay,  first stirred to life in that story…I  could only hum ‘ Yeh nayan dare dare…’

It was not that song which I hummed when I read  the story, ‘And his letters grew colder.’ How perfectly  the young Daphne Du Maurier analysed the mind of the player! The hunting, the chasing and the cold hearted abandonment. The callousness of the casual trickster has been dissected with needle sharp cynicism and ruthlessness by a master writer!

Any day, any century, any era, a woman can benefit by reading that story! Poor Mrs.B, or A : how you fell for the hunter at large! It is a tale which will hold true in the age of tinder and instant messaging; and probably save a few lives from unwarranted suicides too.  Apparently,  from reading reviews of that story , a lot of women across the world agree on that particular chronology of Daphne’s surreptitiously sly narrative.

The perfect song to hum is Kelly Clarkson’s of course.. ‘Baby you don’t know me..what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’

 

**

http://lereis.blogspot.in/2007/05/and-his-letters-grew-colder.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/apr/30/the-doll-daphne-du-maurier

P.S. For all who love Conan Doyle. He could write some real creepy stuff too! Check out ‘ The case of Lady Sannox.’  Now that is another story which can fit in this particular genre. Du Maurier would have applauded.

http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/19/tales-of-terror-and-mystery/75/the-case-of-lady-sannox/

 

 

Warmth In Winter

img_1568

I find her entranced in a thick book- she is awed! I snooze near her, enjoying the warmth of the heater in the unhappy cold of a dire winter. An hour later, I open my eyes and she is still in the same position, the book on her lap.

“Interesting , eh?”

No response.

I take a peek.

‘Adventure of the devil’s foot’

“Are you understanding it?”

She looks at me with that ‘I do not expect that from you’ sort of a look.

I grin. And snooze again.

This time, it is late and the book and the child are still in their places.

“Time to sleep,” I say.

“Five more minutes”, she says. It is neither a request nor a plea. It is a statement-typical of her.

Five minutes later, I cough meaningfully.

She closes the book.

“What was the adventure?”

“The empty house,” she says with a prim expression.

As I tuck her into her winter blankets, and turn the heater around, I realise that certain classics will always get the chill away from our souls.

On the bed, was Penguin’s ‘Classic Sherlock Holmes’. And already smiling in her sleep, was the youngest fan  in the family- enchanted by the inimitable detective of 221B Baker Street.

The suffocating winter cold fails to depress my spirits.

When a child reads happily, that joy is warm enough to  withstand the severest of  life’s winter winds.

Tail piece:

I  search for and finally find  an old copy of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories.  Dusting it, I slyly put it next to Holmes.

Certain manoeuvres have to be silently executed for success. Especially with little girls full of ‘ I do stuff my way’ attitude.

Let us see now, if that old lady captivates her too!

*

 

Who is Laughing Out There?

jane eyre

When my little daughter groaned about the sadness of Jane Eyre, not finding it enjoyable as Pride and Prejudice, I asked her to watch a movie version with me. She started with much huffing and puffing, protests and sniffs.
By the time I stopped the episode at a critical spot, especially when Jane starts suspecting Grace Poole, little girl was most annoyed.
“Who was laughing?If not Grace Poole, then who?”
“Read the book,” I said, heartlessly.
She scowled at me. Much later,closing the last page of the abridged version, she declared: “I want to see Bertha.”

I remembered a summer vacation when Jeremey Brett started haunting us all in TV- during Sundays, as Sherlock Holmes. My most intense prayer every day would be that the electricity stayed put for the precious one hour or less next Sunday, as the episode played out,part by part. I was hooked from the very first episode: “The speckled band”.
There was no Sherlock Holmes collection at home. My mother gave in finally, on the promise of doing all summer homework on the first week itself, and daily ‘deposited’ me enroute work- in the “Reference Section” of the Trivandrum Public Library. The original works were compiled there- with the beautiful illustrations from Strand magazine- golden edged, red-velvet bound -one  helluva joy of a book! Soon, I became the expert on Holmes in my family. The best part of that summer holidays was the discovery of enjoying both the book and the visual depictions: the permutations and combinations offered to the intellect were amazing!

“Sure,” I  replied,  “let us watch the mad woman in the attic.”

***
Post script: Little girl decided that Joan Fontaine was the most beautiful Jane among all versions. I told her that most probably, the casting director had not read the novel- Ms. Fontaine is neither small nor obscure or plain! (By the way,Elizabeth Taylor starred as Helen Burns in the same 1943 version! )

***

Ahalya: Film, Reflections

In the Panchakanya strotram, five women are praised for their qualities of head and heart, to use a cliche.

Ahalya, Tara, Mandodary, Sita and Draupadi are these women- if you know enough about them, you will know why they have been eulogised thus.

Ahalya, given the first mention, as a consolance to the ignominious fate she had to endure- she was turned into a papa- sila, aka stone of sin, for having slept with Indra, the God of the Devas who tricked her in the guise of her husband RIshi- Gautama. Of course, the argument went, had she really been a pure woman, she would have sensed that the ardent lover  in Gautama’s form was not her true spouse, would she not? If you cannot make sense of that logic, well, join the gang. Presumably physical expression of love was not Gautam’s forte and so when the lust ridden Indra went to meet Ahalya, in Gautam’s  body form, come on, says the critic, she being a devoted wife, should have/ could have/ bloody well shouldacoulda/… Eh?  No? Tough luck! Go, check your own morals, sorry amorals…

Well, better intellectuals and souls have debated ad nauseum on the ” purity” of Ahalya. I have compassion for the poor woman. Doomed to be a stone for being a woman. Punished for wanting love. Something resonating with the way Renuka, Parasuram’s mother was punished. Poor lady got her head cut off for being late for the prayer ritual. She had stopped to stare, you see, at a Gandharva and his consorts, indulging in water play- enjoying hedonism with such abandon. On that, later.

I wanted to write on Sujoy Ghosh’s short film ” Ahalya”. Very interesting 14 odd minutes.

Ms .Apte who opens her house door dressed in a silk shift that screams- seduction, seduction , was probably the most obvious- what do they say- red herring in the plot. Yeah, one does read ” Indra Sen” in the cop’s nameplate as he leans  near the camera.  If you have browsed through blogs on the topic, you must have by now, read about the obvious inspirations like the Spanish short film Alma ( simply brilliant!), Satyajit Ray’s  story of ‘Professor Shonku and the mysterious dolls’,about Roald Dahl’s award winning horror story ” The Land Lady” et al. (I was wondering if Hitchcock  was inspired to do Psycho from that one too, after reading the tale:)

Watch Ahalya at peace. Then sit back and ruminate. Or else, much better, laugh out at the cleverness of the director.  Turning into stone  has never been more interesting.

I am, in the meanwhile, wondering on the limitless possibilities of our epics to be the foundation of many a short film, loosely inspired by vernacular and foreign classics.

A Conan Doyle inspired- c’mon very generously- Speckled band- and Takshaka’s bite and  the Pareekshit tragedy. How does a worm turn after all, eh? It can be woven with the tale of Somerset Maugham – there is that  Malayan archipelago story about the worm in the head causing hallucinations- in the battle between men over a woman.

So you have a worm, a serpent,  an eponymous detective, a legend,  a writer, a woman, two men.

Name of film: Pareekshit! Howzzat?

Whoa- I am taking a break from mixing too many ingredients in the cauldron.Cannot afford for anyone to think that the writer is stoned, eh?

********

Hounding The Fears Out, With A Twist!

The face of the woman had haunted me for years. She was staring , pale faced and deathly, at the man. He was down in a chamber and was pleading with her. Then the lid had fallen- either by her hands or by fate. I remember shivering after watching the Musgrave Ritual in the Sherlock Holmes  BBC series  starring Jeremey Brett. I was thirteen. Some memories die hard.

By some  ineffable quirk of my mind, I soon forgot the title but not the story. Later, even as I read and re-read my favourite Holmes stories, this story evaded my grasp. I kept searching for it for a long time, with frustrating failure. Until Google arrived.

The Butler and the tree and the mystery! The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual. I sat and watched as my thirteen year old self within me, recollected every emotion. Rachel Howells, Brunton…no fury like that  of a woman scorned indeed!

The slightly touched in the head- blonde Jane,  in her temptress role, I did not remember. Did the Indian censor board edit the series back then?The face of the housemaid as she coldly speaks to her ex lover, about his selfishness – that look I recollected, perfectly. But the face of the corpse floating was new to me! Does our memory blank out certain scenes and vividly preserve some others?

I went back to the original story and realised that the BBC version had been liberal in its interpretation. There was no dead body floating anywhere. Neither was Watson a part of the incident.

Intrigued, I ended up watching the 2013 brilliant Russian version of the Musgrave Ritual. Whoa! That one took me for a ride indeed! Absolutely unbelievable in its own take of the Ritual.Just like that oddly named Baskerville Hound!

I simply loved both. Especially the Hound.For turning a tale around its head, for mixing up stories, for a Holmes who plays his violin as it hangs on the wall, for his tortoise rimmed specs, for humour and sheer  surprise!Was Moriarty wearing  violet Ray-ban? And to think that I was waiting for phosphorous even as the Chancery papers and trains were all over the scene!!

That  Russian series discovery was the best antidote to any childhood nightmare!  Rachel Howells has lost her power over me. So has Brunton’s despair. I now remember Holmes in a kilt with Scottish pipers all around.

There is something to be said for that!

The Axe Of The WordSmith

Picture 040

“A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us”..that was Kafka, surprisingly passionate, overwhelmingly intense, none of the analytical detachment and clinical apathy of interpretation usually seen in his words.

What would such an ice axe do, I imagined. I saw an axe raised, coming down heavily on steelish blue ice bergs and cracking the surface open – and water, angry and freed, ebullient, rising up in ecstasy.

Such a rise I saw in Alice Walker’s Colour Purple and Toni Morrison’s Beloved; two iconic classics that crack open the ice in the hearts of a benumbed humanity, by pointing out the horrendous pathos of what one part of humanity suffered during the days of slavery and soon after.

Sethe, Paul D,  Celie, Shug Avery and the other unnamed men and creatures…ah, these characters are caught in lyrical poetry (in Beloved) and in an uneducated woman’s words (in Colour Purple) easily moving a reader to tears and a rough shakeup of the complacence that crowds her in. There is only one human story, the world wide, I realised- and I know it in my blood, like any other human being.

In an interview with the brilliant author Khaled Hosseini , when asked about the popularity of his novels, he said that he was surprised and baffled- for he wrote stories straight from the heart and did not bother about the tag of “sentimentalism”, oft attached to such writing. He also reflected poignantly that  perhaps readers across the globe could relate to these human stories, because they were about emotions.

That brought me back to the ice-axe. A brother losing a sister, a friend losing a boyhood pal, a man discovering a woman’s love, the agony over a lost country…were these not themes (often seen in Hosseini’s works) that I had grown up with, in vernacular masterpieces? Did not the readers respond passionately to these simple themes and love them with abandon?

Book lovers, like Tolstoy’s opening sentence in Anna Karenina about happy families, are alike..and  book lovers, like Tolstoy’s quote about unhappy families, are different too in their own ways.

Closing the Colour Purple, and opening it again to catch a whiff of the book’s smell- as if trying to inhale Celie and Shug back into my own psyche with their tears and laughter, I thought of how I was alike and different, from other clan members.

Too much cleverness leaves me cold- I hated Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. Death, death, death..please, I know I will die too, someday.I like my cleverness short and precise: as in a bumbling Father Brown discovering the psychology of the Hammer of God, or the imagination of Conan Doyle that made a woman scream “the speckled band, the band..” in throes of her death. Thank you.

Well at great risk of being labelled a show-off( huh, so you think you are the only one who reads? nahhhhh) , and with heart felt humility (apparently the word means walking the sacred earth), I like my reading simple, down to earth and touching my heart. The rule follows for movies, screen plays, plays, art work and life in general.

When Lalitambika Antarjanam writes about the beauty of the bride’s feet in AgniSakshi, “akin to lotus buds”, and the young protagonist becomes a life long fan of Devaki, one can actualy visualise the loveliness of the woman. When M.T.Vasudevan Nair writes about  Draupadi’s special fragrance- the enchantment of blue lotus,leaving  Bhima intoxicated beyond his own understanding and makes him her most ardent lover,  the reader sighs deeply. When Changampuzha writes a poem wondering on who would buy the queen of the garden today, he is also pointing at the prostitution forced on a young flower seller..and his words acquire an intensity and heavy sweetness that makes one mesmerised for a moment. (Nidrayennodu yatrayum cholli nirdayam vittu pokayal..since the sleep left me merciless to my own bereft self..)

The axe, the axe…sometimes it comes from the vernacular,  sometimes from a simple translated Chinese poetry, a sliver of an article from a travelogue across the Patagonia, yet a line from an ordinary novel, making one sit on  desert sand, parched for a glass of water..as another master story teller weaves his magic…

What a gift it is, this gift of story telling. Whether it comes in any guise- angel, devil, banshee or villainess..blue or aquamarine, cobalt tinted or a sultry peacock shade…I am game for cracking the ice open and rediscovering the great, one, human story within me- reflecting all what is outside.

In their own way, every story teller, shows us the way to ourselves.

In gratitude.

The Cauldron Boils Over

Picture 166

For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves,

and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters. (Khalil Gibran, The Prophet, On Good and Evil)

I have been forced to brood on the nature of evil and cruelty after a series of news paper reports came out recently.

Airhostess abuses maid servant.

Qualified doctor, public representative’s wife, brutally murders maid servant.

 Clubbed with other stories of heinous evil, these provoked shuddering reflections on the nature of evil that I had encountered in my own journey so far.

I thank God for the kind hand that has kept me safe and sane and able to jot these down.

When I heard about an ancestor who specialised in banging his daughter’s head on the sharp edge of a grain box, because she had not prepared his dinner in time; I thought it was a made up story.

” How can someone tolerate that evil?” I remember asking, until the narrator, turned her eyes and looked at the woman sitting by her side.

In a shock of realisation, I understood and asked the lady, ” You? You were the daughter? My God!”

Later, in class, when the  teacher waxed eloquent on a great poet ,my best friend and my namesake whispered to me about his cruelties to his family.

” He forsake his wife and children and would wander about seeking inspiration. Great poet he might have been, but good husband and father, he never was. Once when he returned from his six month sojourn, he saw his seven year old son sitting in his favourite easy chair. He pulled him out and thrashed him so badly that he started bleeding. I read a memoir by the son- on the great poet of whom he was terrified all his life…”

Evil, I understood then, can also have the face of genius.

The stories of Nazi Holocaust, or the evils of the Pol Pot regime, the slavery stories, the brutal war games or the murderous riots when human beings turn beasts- all are very real.

The veneer of sophistication that covers the human face often covers a venal expression. The greatest of tests come when power is given to human beings to lord it over others.A handsome Smeagol can turn  into a despicable Gollum, if the Deadly Ring of Power, happens to become His Precious.

In a famous scientific study called the Milgram Experiment conducted by Prof Stanley Milgram of Yale University, the tendency of  “normal people ” to obey authority figures and abuse hapless innocents was showcased. Once a person perceived that he/she was just an ” instrument”, obeying a higher authority, he/she tended to shift blame from their own selves.

This study can be read along with the Dementors and Death Eaters of many mythical series, the ganglords of evil who obey a “Higher Power” to whom they owe allegiance.

But as we see in daily life, it does not take a Voldemort or Sauron to inspire evil.

The person who suffers deeply often perpetrates deep suffering on others. It is almost a cycle of evil. The person is herself abused, feels no control over his /her life, feels an exaggerated sense of inferiority and of being slighted by significant others, and so waits for an opportunity to wreak all that aggression on a hapless victim. Explanations of brutal rapes, beatings, child abuse, marital abuse, subordinate abuse have often included this logic.

As the witches of Macbeth chanted,

 Double, double toil and trouble; 

Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 

On reflection, I have found that in my most helpless conditions, I have been most angry with my beloved ones. “Displacement “, psychology calls it wisely. One tends to make scapegoats of others since one cannot handle the real issue on its face.So the abused subordinate will abuse his wife, she will abuse the maid servant, the maid servant will abuse the cat and so on and so forth..It reminds one of the nursery rhyme “The Farmer in the dell”.

I am pretty sure that the best of goodness and worst of evil is very much within every human soul. It just depends on the environmental triggers as to which comes out. It also depends a lot on what is considered “acceptable” and “unacceptable behaviour.”

Besides, if a poor maid servant from Manipur or West Bengal gets abused within the four confines of her Delhi home, which neighbour would care  to take a peep?

So the perceived danger associated with continuing a loathsome behaviour also plays a role in perpetuating evil.

****

Lessons in psychology have taught me much about parental drivers, conditioning, reinforcement, prejudices, negative self-talk, internalisations, insecurities and all such jargon.Lessons in life have taught me some pungent truths.

Cruelty happens subtly, invidiously. Children can be the most vulnerable victims. If you tell a child that she/he is not good enough/beautiful enough/smart enough, it can be a mad ram inside the head for ages to come. Until, one day, with good souls around, one truly looks at the mirror and realises that the perpetrator had been a liar. One is good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough. Enough unto the day, the beauty thereof.

It is extremely important to protect children from negative insinuations and degrading talk. Perhaps they do not hear it from the close family, but we should protect them enough  so that others’ evil attempts to poke a hole into that fragile self confidence, is never successful.

Almost as a serendipitous event, I read Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye recently. This book, about the systematic destruction of a child’s psyche, told in the context of racial/feminine/power equations/sixties America, brought tears to my eyes. There was so much one could empathise with- some experiences are universal.

Morrison writes about how she was shocked into writing that novel, when a school mate wanted ” blue eyes ” , in the hope that it would get her acceptance, by making her beautiful. The prose is fire, scalding one’s fingers as one reads, and I again realised how good literature redeems; by making one go deep into one’s own experiences and cleanse the dirty remnants of one’s own prejudices.

Beauty is not equivalent to virtue, the author writes. She adds that it has taken 25 years for her novel to get truly accepted. It had been trivialised when it was originally published.

Cruelty and evil can have very handsome faces. Even pretty ones for that matter.  Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds , as Shakespeare so wisely wrote.So we need not fall in for the designer brand versions of Ugliness being equated to Badness. If something inside you still resists, read Conan Doyle’s ” The Yellow Face.” All that is not pleasing to the eye, need not be that of evil.  And in a like manner, there is nothing more pervasive than the myth, that all that is beautiful is good.

*******

As human beings, I guess being aware of our own propensities to abusive behaviour, is the first step towards the magic of protection.  We tend to be evil when we thoughtlessly speak, brag, disregard, turn a blind eye to suffering, and smooth a clean white sheet over the bloodied mess of our inner lives. And spray a perfume over the noxious fumes rising from within. “All the perfumes of Arabia…”

I have reached a stage in my life where I have started being very aware of abusive behaviour, the start of the first rung of evil in a relationship- between friends, siblings, parents, work place relations.

Instinct and experience warns a person of what to watch out for within herself/others.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Tell me why evil is always on call?

The Law of Return  much quoted in many books of spirituality, speaks of ” What you sow, that you reap.”

May we sow good thoughts, good imagination, kind behaviour, empowering words and noble deeds in our daily lives.

Our world, both inner and outer, can do with  lot more of decent, good human beings who are respectful, tolerant and kind. We can do with far more introspection on whether our life patterns hold a lesson for us and less on envying the great lives that others apparently seem to have.

And yes, I think I have had enough of newspapers for a while.

*****