Story of a lost journalist

July 3, 2017

Tummy talks

Filed under: Conversation — Cris @ 02:24

One of those common conversations that you have with your tummy, if you have got one that talks back (T is tummy, C is me).

T: Brr grr mrr
C: Forget it, you are not getting anything more today
T: What!
C: I thought you had enough
T: Did you even consider consulting me?
C: You seemed full after the chicken puffs
T: We tummies, dear lass, are never full. We hate that word. I don’t want to hear it.
C: But I fed you milk after that
T: What is milk? It flows away
C: Well I have got some biscuits
T: Give that to your dog
C: Hey!
T: I wouldn’t mind some noodles
C: No way, I am not cooking now
T: It could even be those readymade cup noodles, you just need hot water
C: We don’t have it
T: How about a nice juicy chicken leg out of the fridge
C: There’s nothing here!
T: You are so selfish!
C: Yea I only think of myself, not my tummy
T: Hmm…
C: Hmm-er
T: Alright, give me those biscusits then
C: I gave it to the dog

July 1, 2017

Five children

Filed under: Books — Cris @ 23:07

The last few books I read, really coincidentally, have been of child narrators or protagonists. First in the list was Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Hahaha, then my dear pen pal Khyrunnisa’s Run! It’s Butterfingers Again, after that everyone’s recent favourite Anees Salim’s Small Town Sea. There’s two more, I thought there should be a gap or a list would get boring. So after that was Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and now, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I should have gotten here sooner, only the last read is always fresh in my mind, so it is now difficult to draw parallels.

Let me try, though. I need these books to stay in my head, or be at a place I could come and restore. Cause I enjoyed all of them. I have always been fond of children’s books and movies. I still can’t get enough of them. But these were not the typical made-for-children types, except dear Butterfingers. He had always been endearing and this time, like Khyrunnisa’s last book, it came as a collection of stories. I laughed aloud many times imagining the helpless and troubled expressions of those around Butterfingers. You can’t get annoyed with him cause he always means good. He is not trying pranks, he is not being ‘naughty’ like some horrible child characters in some horrible movies which I will not name. If I had written this sooner, I could have recalled the exact moments I laughed aloud and the names of those stories. But I recounted one to the dear author when she called once. It’s when Jagmohan, the poor school principal who has to deal with this bunch of troublemakers every day, says grandfather for grandmaster. Hahahaha, hahaha. Well, you had to be there to know.

Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke and Anees Salim’s boy narrator (who remains unnamed) seemed to know each other. I should probably write ‘similar’ but I don’t wish to. I really wish I wrote of Paddy sooner, he has now faded a little with all the other books after him. I remember really loving him. There is none of the forced childhood material that makes you cringe. None of his pain described in mushy detail, no self-pitying lines. Though he could have used a lot of it. He suffers, even without telling us so. The words he uses are instead of the random and quick-changing thoughts of a child as he sleeps in a room with his little brother Sinbad, listening to the exchanges between his mother and dad. And tries to stay awake because like a child, like all of us when we were children, he believes in changing things just by being awake. If he won’t sleep, they won’t fight. I used to think that if I would go everywhere my mother did, then nothing could happen to her when she has to go away. I still do. So I loved Paddy. He doesn’t say how sad he is. That’s not how children work. I know from once being a child. So I loved Roddy for Paddy.

Anees’s boy is not really similar to Paddy. There’s only one incident they both share, one night when they didn’t sleep. Paddy for the reason I just wrote above. And Anees’s boy to listen to the midnight chat between his mom and grandmom. The next day one faints and the other falls asleep. Boy (I will call him that) comes to his dad’s old town, it is actually Varkala but Anees wouldn’t name it, reluctantly from the port city of Kochi, Anees wouldn’t name that either. He makes a friend in Bilal. His dad is ill, his mom quiet. His dad’s old friends from his old life come to the new. But they are not really important, they are just there. What’s important is after all that, when his mother has to choose between Boy and another life. I forgot, there is adorable Little, Boy’s younger sister. There are many sad bits to pick from Boy’s life but what made me most sad is the Bilal part of it. Like Paddy, Boy doesn’t really talk about his miseries, but sometimes you could catch his tears passing by casually.

With Jean Brodie, we cross to another gender. Girls, mostly Sandy, remembering the days when they were 10 and 11 and 12, sitting with a teacher who calls those days her prime. She is unconventional, talks not of the lessons in the syllabus, but her own life and its romances and many things else. There are six girls called the Brodie gang, girls of different beauties and intellect but the focus is on Sandy. I don’t like Sandy. Or Jean Brodie. But I like the book. I can’t explain why. It’s different but you don’t have to like everything that’s different. It’s different in an admirable way, even without giving you a favourite character to think of the book by.

After all that detachment, I came very close with Matilda, the girl who narrates the story of Mister Pip. More than her, she endears her Mister Watts to you. He is the sole white man in an island of blacks, choosing to stay behind when the ‘others’ went away. He becomes the teacher the children do not have. And most importantly he becomes the man who introduces them to Great Expectations. Charles Dickens’ greatest work is not a book anymore, it is a world to a bunch of children who have no other place to escape to. Matilda’s relationship with the Pip in the book and the Pip outside of it, gives you a heaviness you carry with you for a long time. If I had power I would go back to that page when, well to avoid spoilers, when it all goes wrong. That is actually being unjust to the beautiful book, full of pretty lines, to write it so plain. But I want the world inside the book to end there, to the last day when hopes were all high and all would end well. I know, that would be fairytalish and not expected of a real book. It was so real I turned to look at the author, expecting a black smart woman called Matilda and seeing instead a white Lloyd. So you are Watts, then. No problem. No. No. You are not. Watts is on a higher level, bigger to me than the author who created him. How’s that?

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