Monday, September 15, 2014

(More Than) Ten Books That Influenced Me

When a friend tagged me on Facebook to post about ten books that influenced me, my reaction was, "Ten? How can I stop at ten?" 

But I started thinking about it, so here's the list I drew up in my head. 

All of Ruskin Bond that I've read, especially the Rusty books; reading Bond makes me want to write, even though I'll never be as good. 

'Pride and Prejudice' for totally enchanting me when I first read it at fourteen, and giving me Darcy as the lover's ideal: I still think he's much nicer than most romance heroes -- shy and arrogant but very kind to people he likes. 

'To Kill a Mockingbird' for introducing me to the idea that a novel with a child narrator could be so nuanced and grown up, and more recently, 'Mockingbird' by Kathryn Erskine and 'Room' by Emma Donahue for much the same thing. 

Jahnavi Baruah's 'Next Door' for stories that are so familiar, set in streets I've walked in and peopled by characters I might have known as a child, and so sad that I had to keep wiping my streaming eyes to continue reading. 

For both Baruah and Chimamanda Adichie ('The Thing Around Your Neck'), I liked their short stories more than their novels (though the novels are also brilliant), even though I'm normally very much a novel-reader. 

The Narnia books, which entranced me as a kid even though I dislike them now, and gave my life some magic when I badly needed it. 

The Harry Potter series, which I was a somewhat late but zealous convert to, which I rail at and nitpick but can't stop loving (and reading fan fiction about). 

The Hunger Games, for giving me the girl hero I'd always thought must exist. 

Enid Blyton's books, which I mostly despise now for all their issues, but which first told me that adventures are worth having (and I've never stopped trying since). 

And Agatha Christie, especially for Death Comes as the End (which I'm rereading now for about the 20th time) and Absent in the Spring. 

(There. That's somewhere between 10 and 40 books, depending on how you count.)


If you want to, share yours, either in the comments below or on your own blog (and share a link with us?)

Monday, September 01, 2014

I wished an old school friend on Facebook yesterday.

I wished an old school friend on Facebook yesterday.
It was her birthday, Facebook said, and then I remembered -
Of course it was. Birthdays were a big deal when we were in school. 
Last night, I dreamed of the town I lived in when we were classmates.
 
It was so beautiful. The big sunk garden outside my house
That I used to wander in. Sit on the swing and think up stories.
The hillock that we used to go on walks on, my mother and I.
The morning mist. The tall eucalyptus trees waving from a distance.
 
My school. The lovely church behind the pond,
The grove of trees we sometimes sat under,
The wide field we would walk across, arm in arm.
 
The hills and forests in the distance. The empty streets.
The hillock I had to climb up to get to my house.
All so far away now, in distance and in time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I walk across the field in gloves

I walk across the field in gloves
that shield my diseased hands from the summer sun
I look at the butterfly that roves
and lands on a primrose, small and wan.
 
I walk across the field in gloves
The train going by blocks out the sound of the birds
I stop, watch the train as it moves
and walk on again, listening for those songs without words.
 
I walk across the field in gloves
faster now, as I think of my friend
and her children, all full of love
for me, waiting at my journey's end.
 
I walk across the field in gloves
but slower, with a smile I don't try to hide
thinking of the man who loves me
and will wait for me this evening by the fireside.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'll write when...

I'll write when the time is right
And when life is true
I'll wait till I'm in the mood
When I'm not -- or not enough -- blue.


I'll write when I'm alone
I'll write when I am free
But I'm too sad to write
On the nights you leave me.

I'll finish that novel someday
And the play I started too.
But today I have blogs to read
And housework to do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Photos and Words about Bombay

I really love living in Bombay. I don't have anything very coherent to say (yet, though that may come soon), but here are some photos and observations.

 
I love how CST (Victoria Terminus to my childhood self) looks in the evening light.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gray or Grey?

I can't decide.
Gray looks prettier, more interesting.
Yet my fingers automatically
Form grey.
Maybe because
It's more common.
My eyes got used to it first.
And my fingers.
Maybe that's what I was taught in school.

And so, habit wins over affinity.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Weight in My Chest

What is this weight I carry in my chest?
This despair that overshadows my life
I am not poor or heartbroken.
Is it grief or disappointment?
Is it loneliness?
Or merely being lost
Not knowing where I am and where I'm going?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Highs and Lows

Sometimes I feel alone and full of despair
And then again I'm happy again
But not for long.
Like the ebb and flow of the tide:

Sometimes life seems full of vitality
You and life are one;

You are so lucky
Everything is going your way.


And then the tide recedes
The sands beneath your feet shift
You sink a little lower.
And the horizon seems further away.

(Written in response to something a friend said about this.)




Monday, June 30, 2014

Fiction and Reality

Why do I spend so much time
Reading and thinking
About people who never existed?
About worlds that don't either
Or if they do, are far removed from mine?
 
Because figuring out why so-and-so did this
and what he was thinking or feeling
helps me figure out what I feel and why
What I want from life and from people.
And what kind of world do I want this to be.
 
And thus I go full circle, from fiction to reality and back.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Do I miss you, my friend?

Do I miss you, my friend
or just the way you make me feel --
how you say my name
and envelop me in a hug
as soon as you are near me
giving me a rush of delight:
Are you so happy to see me?
 
The way you smile
and ask how I am
as if the answer is important.
The way you tell me
what has been troubling you
and listen to what I have to say
even though I have nothing new
nothing helpful.
 
The way you listen
to my petty troubles
as if they had been your own.
And remember to ask next time
what happened with that?
Did you manage to do so-and-so?
 
You listen to my confessions
when I reveal my dark side
with a calm air, sympathetic
yet not flippant
and show me you believe
I am better.
 
I miss the laughter
I cannot recall
what was so funny.
Nothing probably.
but the sheer joy
of being with friends
makes the giggles bubble forth.