Ripples of my Reflections

I think, therefore I write

Category: I OPINE (page 3 of 13)

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s calling

I have been holding off on this book since I couldn’t imagine Rowling’s style of writing in any other way than the Harry Potter series. Being a huge HP fan, I didn’t want to be in a prejudiced state of mind when I read this. However, curiosity got the better of me as I started reading more reviews about this book and most of them rated the book above 3.5. And they were right, I like The Cuckoo’s calling to bits.

When I started the book, I immediately felt comfortable with the author’s writing style and wondered if it was my prejudiced knowledge of the author. But, as I read page after page, I realized that it is not so. This book was in a different league from the fantasy fiction of Harry Potter, it had a unique writing style that made me fall in love with it. The descriptions of characters, situations, places – everything kept me hooked to the book and that’s exactly what any reader would look for in a crime fiction. Cormoran Strike, the protagonist takes the reader through the case with ease and keeps us guessing what’s next.

When the famous model Lula Landry falls to her death under suspicious circumstances, none except her brother thinks there’s something fishy about her death. Even the rigorous rounds of police investigation concludes that it was a suicide. But there is a witness who overheard an argument seconds before Lula Landry fell and there’s a CCTV footage of two men running away from the scene of crime with their faces covered. These evidences are proven to be false or insignificant to the case in the police investigation. However, John Bristow, Lula Landry’s brother is not satisfied. He brings in Cormoran Strike, a war veteran resigned to private detective after his leg injury, to investigate the case further and find justice for his dead sister.

Was it indeed a suicide? Was Lula capable of going from perfectly happy to suicidal in a span of few hours? Was there a motive for someone to murder her? All these questions are strewn across the plot as Lula’s complicated familial and upbringing situations are analysed. The book effortlessly navigates through a detective’s analysis and keeps us guessing about all possibilities. However, I was a little disappointed about who turned out to be the criminal since this had been done and dusted a little too many times. The story could have been twisted into using a different leg but that opportunity is what I felt is lost towards the climax of the book. Also, the title of the book is derived from a very insignificant plot or phase of the story. It could have been more relevant and provoking.

Otherwise, The Cuckoo’s calling is an unputdownable book that is immensely enjoyable. It cost me my weekend for the most part as I started it and I was compelled to sit and complete this, instead of doing the household chores. I am planning on buying the sequel The Silkworm soon as I cannot wait to read more of Cormoran Strike and his investigation tactics.

My rating: 4/5

Until later 🙂

Forlorn beauty

I had written a post earlier about how we tend to forget what a marriage is beyond that wedding day or maybe once the honeymoon period is over. What pushed me to write that post was the number of people I met, who were once love-struck and couldn’t stay away from each other even for a minute yet turned into zombies living the routine once the wedding was over.

When I was writing that post, my thoughts ran to the marriages that we see in the elder generation, maybe consider a couple of generations back – Your grandparents. What about them? They never had a choice, for the most part. Their parents decided the groom/bride, the date, the location of the wedding and then how to live after the wedding too. All they were told was to do their job – which was to show up as told and live as told. Once the marriage was over, the man was to take care of his wife, procreate and continue to provide for the wife and kids for the rest of his life. While on the other hand, the woman went about the house, turning it into a home, satisfying the needs of the husband, and then the kids as they came along. Such was their life.

On the outside, it does look like a programmed life without any bugs – Even if there was ever one, the bug was quickly pushed aside with such deftness that there was never a second thought about how to live life. However, when I look closer, I see a different version than the one that we imagine their lives to be. Somewhere in between getting acquainted with a stranger and settling down in life with him/her, there blooms a sweet romance. They wouldn’t call that romance and would rather call that understanding and fulfilling one’s duties. However, I would insist on calling that romance to do justice to what they manage to build in the span of their years together.

For the sake of painting a better picture, I am giving an example here – Adit’s maternal grandparents. They had a beautiful marriage of 60+ years (I am not sure of the exact number) until recently when grandpa passed away. I have witnessed their relationship up close, even if it was only for a few months. I still cannot comprehend the enormity of what they shared. In all those years of getting to know each other and forming a routine, they had added a little more care and respect all along the way. The understanding that comes with knowing how he likes the food and the respect that come with what she needs to run the household without being told explicitly. They followed an impeccable discipline which they passed onto their 4 kids. Towards the last few years of his life, Grandpa’s memory started failing him and he had turned into a child who would ask the same question over and over. And grandma would answer the question every single time, with the same smile on her face and in the same soft tone as she always does. When he forgot things like his food and medicine timings, she cared for him as she would for an infant. When he threw silly tantrums about the clock not working or the TV behaving weirdly, she patiently told him that she will get them repaired and she did. Every single time.

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When you see such people, it just reinstates the faith in marriage even for a person who doesn’t quite believe in the institution of marriage. They have been through it all, seen it all, and lived it all. Together. When a man is 60 years old and in a marriage, we do the Sashtiapthapoorthi*  to celebrate their time together. But would any amount of celebration do justice for a marriage that has lived for 60 years? I have often wondered why the celebration is centered around the man’s age rather than the age of the marriage he is in. Their marriage spoke volumes of trust and faith you could have in your spouse. The mutual respect shines through all those years, unblemished. Witnessing this kind of a relationship which shines with love that was never acknowledged by anyone left me in wonder. When they, who had no choice about their life partner, built such a beautiful marriage, why are we struggling to hold up a relationship, when we have all the choices in the world? Why is it that couples of this generation stand in line at family courts, when they were the ones who chose their spouses?

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Marriages live beyond the lives of the people involved and tell their tales. Even after grandpa passed away, grandma lives in that same house with his memory for company, refusing her children’s requests to come live with them. The forlorn beauty that meets me every time I visit grandma and see the garlanded picture of grandpa is something that inspired me to write this post. And the same melody I hear from their silent love is what inspires me to love more and live more.

*Sashtiapthapoorthi is a matrimonial celebration when the man reaches 60 years old. The base for this tradition is to revive the memories and taste of the good old days for the old couple when they started their marriage because with time, they get used to living for their kids than for themselves.

Until later 🙂

Image Credits: All the images used were picked up from Google search

Are you suffering from a boring marriage?

Not all marriages are exciting and romantic, does that mean we dismiss them as a failed marriage? I don’t think so. Such marriages maybe a boring one that had lost its glory in the mad race which follows a set milestone path – Get married, Excel in work, Earn loads of money, Buy a house, Procreate, Live for the children and so on. It never ends really. We have seen so many of our previous generation marriages that follow this path without flinching or so much as a care for why they are doing the routine so meticulously. We could have seen this with our parents too. But somewhere in the looking out for each other and striving to build a strong foundation for their off springs, they found their romance and the purpose of their relationship. I still cannot fathom how they did this, but more on that in another post.

However, what ticked me off to write this post is the attitude with which some of us from this generation take marriage. The married couples now, anywhere from 1-5 years of being married, they made me wonder. I am generalizing here, pardon me for that, but I have seen many people, men and women alike, think of the relationship journey to be complete once the marriage is over. They fight, cry and put their lives at stake for getting married to the one they love. But once that sacred knot is tied and the honeymoon period is over, everything is set and the accomplishment gets its closure. They fall back into this routine of working for 5 days, chilling out for 2 days a week and then the same thing all over again. The little surprises, the sweet nothings, the crazy love messages all fade slowly over time. To have a real conversation that didn’t involve paying bills, buying groceries and financial planning for the future becomes a challenge that is more daunting with each passing day.

Both men and women are to blame for this, for it takes two to make or break a relationship – be it marriage or any other relation for that matter. I have seen some crazily love struck men turn into someone who has a relationship only with their mobiles or laptops after marriage. They don’t bother to help the wife with the household work, even when they can. That’s purely out of habit. Eventually, the same woman who had spent so much time dressing for her guy and planning the biggest surprise for his birthday now does not have time for him. She gets neck deep in the routine of running the household and balancing her career at the same time. She does not let go of certain things to prioritize the time spent with her husband.

While life is always a rat race, this time lost will never come back. 10-20 years into marriage, we would have become so comfortable with the monotony that things would go about the same way without a blink. But where and when the stars vanished, one would wonder! We are the generation who have come leaps and bounds from where our parents were. We are the ones who explored love as an individual emotion and not just a mandatory feeling that we must feel towards the person our parents married us to. Be it arranged or love marriage, the term relationship got redefined more with our generation’s attitude and thinking. Then why is this still happening?

Small things – A hug and a I love you every day without one eye on the TV/laptop, even a hurried kiss as we rush off to work, a phone call from the midst of nowhere just to say sweet nothings, a little birthday surprise, a sudden shopping spree, a quiet holiday without checking the mail every other minute, a little time entirely devoted to the spouse – even if it is just 10 mins, having meals together at the dining table and not in front of the TV, listening to the rants of the other, taking time to help the other with their work – be it household chore or something else, cleaning up without being told, listening to favorite songs together, a simple candle lit dinner when there’s a blackout… There are so many things that one can do, to say I love you.

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Even the simplest of the things can transform into some of the most romantic moments we have ever had, if only we take the time to notice. For example, I take it upon myself to find something to make from scratch and gift it to my husband. Not just for birthdays, but for every occasion. He has umpteen gadgets and I know he will hoard that a little more, but he can buy that for himself. But the birthday cards, the 365 jar filled with love notes, the key ring with those dangling little hearts – those he cannot buy anywhere, for they are filled with my love.

Love manifests in a million ways and more. There is no need to stick to a routine and forget ourselves. Just being there, ticking our minutes and hours away is not the job of a human being, but of an inanimate clock. We have so much love within, but very few take the time to express and explore. Others just let it gather dust and rust away in time.

In spite of all this, I find that the foundation is mutual respect on each other. The day the respect is lost is the day the marriage/relationship fails. So build on that respect, find that love which we clung to once upon a time. In fact, if we reminisce, we will find that it was not that long ago we felt that the purpose of our life is that single person and that the world revolved around him/her.

It’s time to change and to notice, all that we have been neglecting. Dust ourselves up and live a little more with our loved ones and not just with the gadgets lying around. Let’s be smart instead of our phones being so! Everyone can have a great wedding – you just need money for that, but what really counts is a great marriage.

And a successful marriage requires falling in love many times over, with the same person!

Until later 🙂

Images Courtesy: geniusquotes.org

Bittersweet

I didn’t think that I would be able to do 2 consecutive posts for the AtoZChallenge going on, without compromising on what I want to write rather than what I should write for the letter of the day. And that is the exact reason why I created my own AtoZ series of posts over a year. Yet, here I am writing the second consecutive post. Blame it on the gap between my posts or on my heart’s persistent urge to title the post on this particular topic as ‘Bittersweet’. Any which way, here goes:

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Have you ever loved anyone? Or has anyone ever loved you enough to make you feel like you were the only person in the world? And did you succeed in that love or fail, pick yourself up and move on? Yes, love is my focus here. But it is not above how elating or crazy or blind love is. I am here to write about how bittersweet love is. Yes, of all the adjectives the English language provides us, I feel this one does justice to the feeling. Allow me to recount the experience that inspired this post. A very good friend of mine was in a relationship with a girl from a different religion. They always knew that the religion thing will get in the way from the start but something kept them going. We were all very intrigued as to how they are going to face such a stark difference in this society and make their love a success. They both had very charming personalities and were such a lovely couple too.

In a few months, we had become friends with the girl even though we didn’t share workplaces and started addressing her as though she was his wife. They were confident in their love and we were too. Time passed and the usual pressure at the girl’s house started. She had a younger sister too which didn’t make things easier. The same way, the guy had a younger sister whom he had to marry off before he could even think of his marriage. Well, things happened and needless to say, the only way out was that of a mutual break-up. They opted for that and parted ways with no hard feelings. They tried, cried and somehow managed to move on. As days passed ,I lost touch with them both except for the occasional call or two from my friend. I could never get in touch with her because believe it or not, it gets awkward. Obviously, I got to know her only because I was his friend and so talking to me would invariably loop around him. And many such reasons happened and we lost touch for no good reason. However, I could never delete her from my contacts. Every time I looked at her name, I didn’t just remember her or him. I remembered them and what could have been, a really beautiful life for 2 of my friends filled with overwhelming love.

Recently, I happened to look at her name as I was scrolling through my contacts and saw her profile pic. It was a pic of her with her husband on her wedding day. I paused for a moment and tried to swallow. I couldn’t. My heart felt so heavy. I was wondering why I was feeling so bad about this when they themselves have moved on and started a new phase of their lives. And it’s been like a couple of years since they broke up. Still I was not consoled. I continued to stare at her profile pic and her smiling pose. A 1000 questions raced through my mind – Is she happy? Can you move on completely from such a wonderful love and that too the first one at that? Does she remember the happy times with him and us? It would be very judgmental on my part if I expected her not to move on and marry someone else and I understood that perfectly. I never judged either of them for one moment. They had their reasons and even more who am I to judge them for deciding that what they thought would work out was a mistake? They were very mature about it and parted without hurting anyone except themselves. No, that is not my problem. My problem is the what-could-have-been. My problem is because of religion, the concept of love took a hit here. Ironically religion claims that the basis is love when it is taught to all of us. What we miss out is that love comes with conditions – love another of the same religion. same community, same caste, same status. But that love which was crushed didn’t come with  conditions, it was just simply beautiful and bittersweet.

Until later 🙂

P.S: I know I missed out on the Action Replay for March but there was nothing eventful except work during March and I didn’t think it would as interesting to you as it was to me. So the post for that series will visit you at the dawn of May.

Setting things right

I want to set certain things right. In my own terms. This is not a topic that’s unheard of or unwritten of. Yet, even the most civilized of the lot make the same mistake time and again and that pisses me off.

I am a feminist. And there comes the question, define feminism. Let me put it in a way that everyone would understand and hope (I’m an optimist) that people would get it.

The first line on Wiki’s page about it is: “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women.” Do we see the word equal? Do we understand what it means? Then why is Feminism considered a taboo? Why are feminists being looked at as if they are aliens invading the planet and exclaimed at as “Ooh! You are a feminist!” with that sarcastic tinge in the tone?

I like it when a guy walking before me allows me to go forward as I am in a hurry because he doesn’t want to be a hindrance to another person irrespective of the gender. Not because I am a woman.

I like it when a guy gives a lady his seat in the bus not because she is a woman but because she is pregnant or carrying her baby in one arm and struggling to keep her feet planted.

I like it when a man stands up for a woman to protect her when she is helpless because she is also a human. Irrespective of gender, the helpless should be protected. Again not because of the gender but because that’s what a decent human being would and should do for another human being.

I like it when a man helps his wife in household chores because there is no work label associated with the gender. We eat irrespective of the gender right? Or do you not eat because you are a man? So why not do the dishes too?

I like it when a man refrains from making cheap gender based jokes because jokes should never be at the cost of someone’s feelings. It holds the same for jokes made on guys too.

Image Source: plus.google.com

That is feminism for you. Feminism arose because the natural equality that should be present for any human being started getting skewed. If all of us had extended that courtesy of being sensible and unbiased, there would have been no need for feminism. Society and biased people are the reasons & root causes for feminism. When you see someone and judge them based on their gender or when you try to label a person based on gender, you create the unbalance and hence the need for feminism.If you don’t like feminism and terms alike, stop being skewed and biased.

So next time before you judge a feminist, rethink what she/he stands for. He/she stands for equality not for chauvinism of any gender. A feminist stands up to maintain that balance which the others chose to ignore. A feminist thinks about the human being and not about the gender. So I will proudly say again, I am a feminist! Are you?

Until later 🙂

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