Quote

Life in Mumbai: Early Morning Woes

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot?

1. Don’t Hit The Snooze Button

This should probably be my new year resolution.

My first act every morning after waking up is turning over in bed, pulling the covers snugly under my chin and muttering, “5 minutes more!”

When I finally do wake up — 15 or 20 minutes late — I inevitably curse myself and become the whirlwind of destruction and drowsiness, trying to get ready for college.

Forget dressing up in the latest college trends of the season — I don’t even have time to match my clothes. Half-asleep, peering through squinted drowsy eyes, I grope blindly in my cupboard and wear the first two things that I reach. Accessorise? Forget it!

After spending 15 minutes playing tag with the cold shower (who has time to wait for the geyser to heat up?) I emerge shivering and dressed like a gypsy, ready to wolf down a quarter of my breakfast, while my mother attacks my hair with a comb.

Five minutes later or sooner, I am clumsily fumbling into my shoes, hastily pocketing my watch (and maybe a pair of earrings) to wear in the rickshaw, and after a quick peck on my mother’s cheek — while she admonishes me for not finishing my breakfast and laments my dowdy appearance — and a hastily called out goodbye to my father, I am out of the door and jogging to the street to find a rickshaw.

10 minutes later I am at the station, running pell-mell on the platform to reach the train compartment, as it blows it’s whistle impatiently.

10 seconds before it departs I throw myself into the compartment and collapse on a seat, or if a seat is not available, against the side-bars by the door, and make an out-of-breath promise myself — Tomorrow I shall wake up on time!

2. Do Something Constructive on the Train

If you are a Mumbai suburban resident you know that you have a lot of time in hand every day while in commute. The choice then lies with you how to utilize this time. I know a friend who spends her one hour of travel solving algebra sums. Now that is dedication!

I may carry a magazine or a book, and sometimes even a newspaper and vow to read it on the train, but what I end up doing every day is plugging in my earphones and dozing off on my makeshift pillow aka my college bag. Or at the most play Candy Crush.

I am pretty sure I would be a more knowledgeable person in life if only I spent my commute time in doing some constructive reading.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Two Right Feet.”

Quote

A No-Brainer

Let’s assume we do, in fact, use only 10% of our brain. If you could unlock the remaining 90%, what would you do with it?

This has to be the easiest prompt I have done till date. The minute I read the sentence the answer popped into my head — WRITE!!! 

I hereby declare that any additional brain power I am ever blessed with will be used primarily for writing. 

Writing is the purest form of expression according to me, and many times I find my vocabulary inadequate to express what I want to say. I know what it is that I want to write but I don’t know how to find the words that will capture it’s essence perfectly.

When I write a birthday message for a friend there is so much that I want to say — so many memories, so much gratitude and loads of love. Words seem paltry to capture all that they mean to me.

I face a similar conundrum when writing a story. How best to translate real-world sensory experiences onto paper? To preserve the fragrance of a jasmine, the coolness of water and the texture of grass using only words. So I guess if I had 90% more brain power to utilize I would spend much of it mulling over this problem.

Though writing shall be my main focus I will also try to utilize a little bit of my new-found intelligence to boost my self-esteem, to not allow jealous criticism and taunts translate into self-doubt.

Who knows, I may just finally find within myself the determination to finally pen down the novel I keep planning to write? 😛

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brain Power.”

Quote

“Anything Else, ma’am?”

I was on my way home from college, when my mother texted me and asked me to pick up some groceries from the local kirana store.

I listed out all that I needed to the shopkeeper, more interested to the songs on my mp3 player, tapping my fingers in rhythm and impatience.  It had been a long day, and I wanted to go home. After fetching the items, he asked courteously, “Anything else, ma’am?”

I froze.

Ever since we moved to this neighbourhood ten years ago, this is the shop we visited most often for grocery shopping. I have tagged here along with my mother, peering excitedly at the glass bottles of candy, displayed prominently to entice kids like me. I have come here, a warm coin curled up in my fist – that week’s pocket money – and spent a long time wrestling with the conundrum of which chocolate to buy.

I have visited this shop often during the summer vacations to buy zillions of ice-creams and at Christmas, dragged my father here, to buy chocolates and plum cakes. I have come here with my playmates, when some magnanimous parent or other had handed one of us a currency note and said, “Go buy some sweets and share them with your friends”. I have stood behind, giggling and prodding each other, daring them to go talk to the shopkeeper. It was a daunting task back then.

I have heard the same shopkeeper (minus the silver streaks in his hair) tease me and address me, while I shyly hid behind my mother’s pallu. When I couldn’t reach a packet of crisps, he has many-a-time come to my aid.

I don’t know when I transcended into this new category of customers — customers who were not to be teased, but spoken to courteously. I don’t know if it is a welcome change.

*

I was sitting at my desk, next to the window, studying for my upcoming psychology exams. Now and then excited giggles and laughter from the kids playing below would reach my ears.

Suddenly someone shouted — “Priyanka Didi!

I recognized both the person being called and the caller. Priyanka was the youngest girl in our group of playmates. The one we never took seriously, the one to be picked last since she was always thought of as a liability to the team than an asset. I was the eldest, and animously called by all those in our neighborhood playgroup, Didi. To think that someday my title would pass on to Priyanka was surreal, but it had, and somehow till that afternoon I had never realized it.

As for the caller, I was already a teenager by the time she was born. I have seen her take her first steps, played ‘peek-a-boo’ with her and pulled her cheeks.

She had grown up in front of my eyes, but somehow I never realized that so had I.

*

Jolly Didi was my grandmother’s aide and companion. She had always been there, as far as my childhood memory stretches back to, and whenever we visited my grandmother, she would play with me and my sister. She would tell us jokes, teach us new games and narrate funny anecdotes from her village. My sister and I would follow her all around the house while she did her chores, constantly chatting.

She was a constant at my grandmother’s house for most of my early childhood, until she left to get married. Soon after that we moved to Mumbai, and all she became was the vestige of a childhood memory.

I never spared her much thought, until last year when we were visiting my grandmother, and she came for a visit with her son.

I don’t really know what I expected would happen. Maybe I wanted to relive the camaraderie we had shared when I was a child. I would love it if she became her previous self, tell us jokes and play hide-and-seek with us in the garden. But it was not to be.

Clad in a simple orange cotton sari, her head bowed and eyes downcast, she was not the playmate I remembered. Her behaviour towards me was courteous, bordering on reverence. I vaguely remembered her treating my mother and aunts with similar politesse, but I couldn’t fathom why she would treat me in the same way.

A particularly disconcerting moment was when she tried to sit down on the floor, near my feet. I jumped up, shocked, and asked her to sit next to me on the bed. She obeyed me but with a timidness in her behaviour that frustrated me and left me bemused. I wanted to but didn’t know how to dissipate the awkwardness in our relationship.

When her son poked me in jest, she immediately chided him, and begged my pardon. I wanted to scream that I had behaved similarly with her, when I was a child. She instructed her son to touch my feet and when he ran away shyly, she repeatedly begged pardon for his discourteous behaviour. I told her it didn’t matter, that he was just a child, and I didn’t mind – but the words sounded hollow and patronizing, even to my ears.

I was dying to relive, for even one moment, our earlier companionship and comfortable ease. But it was a thing of the past, and I didn’t know how to bring it back it back to life.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All Grown Up.”

The Penguin Annual Lecture 2014 by Dan Brown

The line started queuing up around 4, three hours before the lecture was commenced to start at 7. Teenagers with bright enthusiastic faces and copies of Inferno or Da Vinci Code tucked under their arms stood chatting outside the famed NCPA theater. College students from nearby cities like Pune and Ahmedabad could also be seen standing in the perpetually growing queue. The excitement in the air was palpable. Mixed among the crowd were middle-aged literary veterans, calmly surveying the chaotic youngsters. The gates opened at 6:15. Seats were randomly allocated seats on ‘first come, first serve’ basis, which essentially people (read: the author) who came first were allotted seats in a far off corner, while people who arrived later got front row seats. Well played Crossword!

All complaints however died out when the man of the hour himself walked in, after having been introduced by Indian author, Ravi Subramanian. As the legendary writer of Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown walked in, the entire auditorium erupted into cheers and applause. The entire audience were on their feet, clapping hard and long. He endeared himself to the hearts of all youngsters in the audience when he started his speech by exclaiming surprise at the young age of the majority of the audience. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?!” he jovially asked

For me, and most other members of the audience, this was a dream come true. To be in the same room as one of my favourite authors isn’t something I could have ever dreamed of. The lecture on ‘Religion and Science’ was delivered to perfection by the author. Mr. Brown started by telling us about his paradoxical childhood, with a church organist as his mother and a mathematics teacher as his father. He even showed us their respective car number plates. His mother’s read ‘Kyrie’ (Greek for Lord), and his father’s read ‘Metric’. He then expounded upon his theory about the god of gaps, wherein he said that whenever the ancient Greeks and Romans experienced a gap in their knowledge, something they couldn’t explain, they invented a god to fill in the gap. So infertility was considered to be due to a falling out from the goddess Juno, plagues were brought upon by the wrath of an angry god and hurricanes were caused by the god of the sea, Poseidon. In a style reminiscent of his famous character Professor Robert Langdon, Mr. Brown further explained that as science discovered the logical reasons behind these events, the pantheon of Roman and Greek gods slowly died out. Today we turn to God for answers to those questions that science cannot answer – where do we come from? why are we here? where do we go after we die? – and in a way, we are still worshipping the god of the gaps.

One of his most powerful statements, according to this author, was when he talked about world religions. The writer said that all human beings have similar spiritual experiences: while looking at the star-lit heavens, we all have at times acknowledged a higher power beyond our understanding, and yet we follow different religions.

1920475_10152539242071523_3109662511914801809_n

It is not religion, but language that divides us, he proclaimed. When we take metaphors as history, the cosmic space as a concrete space, and when we argue over the semantics of god that we are divided. Otherwise all religions preach a similar message of kindness over cruelty, and of love and peace.

“To grow up in a world without religious prejudices is a privilege, and not one many of us enjoy”, he said.

After his speech, Dan Brown engaged in a conversation with famous Indian author, Ashwin Sanghvi. The conversation steered to many topics. When asked about the two Hollywood blockbusters Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code, based on his novels, Dan Brown praised the hard work of actor Tom Hanks and the entire filmmaking crew. He said:

The magic of a book is in its ability to be different things for different people…When a book becomes a movie the quantum wave collapses, and all possibilities die out except one…A movie is like someone else’s child. All an author can ask for is that the filmmakers stay true to the pulse, heartbeat and message of the book.

The talk was as engaging as it was informative. His humourous jokes cracked the audience up,every now and then. The minutes flew swiftly by, and the lecture was over too soon for anyone’s liking. The silver lining was Mr. Sanghvi’s question, when he asked Mr. Brown if his protagonist, Robert Langdon, would soon be following his steps to Mumbai. Though Mr. Brown’s reply was diplomatic, hope lingers. We can’t wait to welcome him back to these shores again!

How I Came Across Harry Potter

Today’s Daily Prompt: Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

Now, this is what I call a tough prompt – I can’t remember the last time I did not have a few books lying around, except….maybe….uh, there’s a little spark of memory here —

I was in seventh grade, and had ‘overgrown’ Enid Blyton. Well overgrown isn’t the right word, but I had finished seven mystery series be her, three sets of school stories and thousands of short stories. I had read all the Nancy Drew novels in my local library, and was now in the painful dilemma of trying to decide what to read further. Needless to say, I had quite high standards.

This was when my mother suggested that I give the ultra-famous Harry Potter series by JK Rowling a try.

“I have been reading quite a few reviews of it in newspapers. Apparently children all over the world love it”.

I wasn’t really enthused, “Ma, you know I don’t like all that magical mumbo-jumbo. I never liked ghost and fairy stories. I want real stories, mysteries if possible!

But my mother was adamant, “People wouldn’t like it if there wasn’t something good in it. Read it. You might be surprised“.

I grudgingly agreed to borrow the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the library, but made sure to borrow a Nancy Drew mystery at the same time. Just in case!

The Book that changed me

The Book that changed me

While we were still on the bus, I flipped the book open, and started reading the first chapter – The Boy Who Lived

 I couldn’t put it down! The Nancy Drew mystery lay untouched, gathering dust, as I reveled in the magic of Rowling’s words. I was hooked. 

The next two weeks, I dragged my mother to the library every alternate day for the next part, and gobbled it up with as much enthusiasm as I had read the first book. I forgot everything else in the world….including my studies. So my dad laid down a ruling – NO MORE BOOKS TILL AFTER EXAMS. 

I was on the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the verdict destroyed me. I just had to find out what happened next! The suspense was agonizing. Voldemort was out there somewhere, and(*SPOILER ALERT*) Dumbledore was dead! There were seven horcruxes and they could be anywhere! Ginny and Harry had broken up, and stupid Ron still hadn’t kissed Hermione! I had to know what happened next.

But my parents remained firm.

That night I dreamt of the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I kept trying to pick it up and read it, but it kept moving away from my reach; so tantalizingly close yet just an inch away.

DeathlyHallowsCover

I pounced on it and was about to read it — when I woke up, and found myself clutching my pillow.

I burst into tears, which melted my mother’s heart long enough to let her make a bargain with me – I could get the book, but I had to finish it in one day.

It wasn’t a bad bargain. The book was so engaging that I could barely put it down anyway! I stayed up the entire night reading it, and fell asleep with the book still in my hands.

With Harry Potter began my newfound love for the fantasy genre. Soon Chronicles of Narnia followed. Followed by Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Artemis Fowl, The Mediator Series and The Kane Chronicles. I remain an ardent fan till date, and all because:

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Just Be – the Conundrum of a First-Year College Student

The four years of my high school I spent in studying as hard as I could….so that four years down the line I could get into my dream college, and I did. I topped my class, passed out with flying colours and a lot of accolades, and before I knew it, I was standing at the gates of the college I had always wanted to get in, doing the course I wanted.

I should have been happy — but instead I felt lost. Where do I go from here? I wasn’t the only one. A few of my friends reported feeling similar symptoms of lethargy. We had lost the drive, the one goal that had been guiding our life till now. I lost interest in studies. Everything felt worthless. I tried planning for my career after college, but the road beyond the three years of college seemed so dark and gloomy, so full of unexpected twists and unknown obstacles, that thinking about it gave me goosebumps and panic attacks. I was almost in the midst of an existential crisis. I had spent most of my teenage life driving at breakneck speed towards this destination, and now that I was here, I had no idea where to go now.

It struck me quite suddenly, randomly out of the blue, but one day I just shook myself:

What are you so melancholic about? This is where you wanted to be for the last four years. You worked hard to reach here, and now that you are here, you are thinking of what to do when you leave?! 

Idiot! (Being me, I am allowed to call myself names 😛 ) Enjoy these three years to the fullest. Revel in the glory that is today. The rest will sort itself out, as and when it happens. Don’t think about that. 

Just BE!

How To Break Someone’s Heart

The interiors of the coffee shop was warm and comfy. The conversations from the other tables – of teenage friends, business men…and lovers – created a happy drone of voices around us. The coffee in front of me is cold, like my heart. A numbness is spreading across me. You are looking outside the window. Maybe you already know the words I am choking on. getty_rm_photo_of_peeling_bandage A mad impulse seizes me – a desire to get this over with, for once and all. Like tearing a band-aid. You start off slow and then you peel it all off, in one hasty move, revealing the pink throbbing wound underneath.

I can’t do this anymore” I blurt out.

I think I see you wince slightly. Your shoulders hunch.

My eyes sting, but I can’t take my words back. I don’t want to.

I squeeze my eyes tightly. No tears.

I am sorry” I whisper.

It seems inadequate. I should probably say more. But I don’t know what, and so I remain silent.

The silence stretches on…

Finally, you look at me. A laconic smile plays on your lips – bitter but resigned. “I am too”.

The pain in your eyes stabs me like an ice-cold blade. I want to not care, and yet I do.

I know this was wrong. It was never going to work out. We were too different – you and I. Too headstrong. But it hurts all the same. There is a terrible, terrible blackness inside me.  A hole where you used to be, till I ripped you apart.

The repressed tears sting my eyes.

I get up and leave.

I don’t look back. c7a48f192556947849ad36feb5e7c85d

Standing outside in the cool, fresh air, I realize I am relived. It feels like for these past few weeks I had been carrying a burden around with me, and now I have finally dropped it. I feel lightheaded, and that’s when I realize that as much as this hurts, I am happy.

I hate the fact that I hurt you though. Despite all that passed I still care about you…a little too much. I berate myself for not being more tactful; more kind? Maybe I should have waited a little longer, tried a little harder – maybe I could have taught myself to love you, as much as you loved me.

Yet if you are going to break someone’s heart, is there a ‘good’ way to do it? Now or later, this way or that, it was going to be painful. Maybe this was better, to get it over quickly. I don’t know. I guess I never will.

I walk away from the cafe.

I hope you have a good life, away from me. I hope you are happy. 

Today’s Daily Prompt: Handle With Care

My Struggles With Brevity

I love to write.

I love to write a lot……Unfortunately.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother, an English teacher, told me that I should always while writing answers in a literature paper take it for granted that the examiner knows nothing. Explain everything. Provide as much context as possible.

I don’t think even she realized the widespread repercussions her words would have, but since then my answers in the examinations, especially my literature paper, have just grown in size. The smallest answer I ever wrote for an English literature paper was three-quarters of an A4 size sheet! A close friend joked that if I had written the entire Shakespeare play verbatim in the answer sheet my answer would probably be shorter. It wasn’t even that big an exaggeration. For one exam, I remember taking 11 supplements or extra sheets, after finishing the initial 12-page booklet. I would probably have written more, but I was running a mild temperature  that day. The same friend joked, that next year our juniors could probably just bind my answer papers and read it instead of the textbook. It never hurt me however. In my final Literature exam at the end of high school, I wrote more than forty pages and scored 99 out of 100.

Verbosity has always been a loving friend to me. My essays in middle school used to be six-seven pages long, and I would only stop writing, once the final bell had rung, and my teacher had more often than not literally snatched the paper away from me. Writing till the last possible second is a habit I am yet to curb, during exams.

I remember one glorious day in tenth grade when all our lectures had been cancelled  due to some emergency teacher’s meeting, but unwilling to leave us all free for the rest of the day, our teacher had asked us to write a story on the topic ‘I wish I had wings…’ Unsurprisingly, no one in the class did…except me. When in the last period, our teacher came to collect the essays she found that no one had written anything, and the one who had was unwilling to give it. I had written ten pages, but I did not want to submit it yet. I told so to my teacher. Surprised, she urged me to tell her why. After a little pushing, I confessed that I had yet to finish my story….or to begin it one could also say. You see my plot was simple: a young village girl dreams of flying and on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus gifts her the ability to fly, and what she does after that. When my teacher came to collect the stories, I had only written till the part where she dreams of flying, and even Santa Claus’s grand entry was yet to be made. After I had explained this to my teacher, she was speechless for a second, and then groaned, “Archita, you shall be the death of me! Please, please don’t do something like this in your Board examination!” She was afraid I would waste so much time on that one question that I would not have enough time left to finish the rest of the paper. Despite her warning, my essay in my tenth board exams nearly reached twenty pages, but I made sure that I finished the rest of my paper beforehand. Yet this was the first time that I realized that as much as I loved my verbose style of writing with grandiose descriptions, brevity has its own charm.

Since then, I have trimmed my style a lot. I write my answers in bullet points, and try to be as concise as possible…at least in academic examinations. But at home with a pen and a sheet of blank paper in front of me – I run wild. My journals are filled with pages and pages of the day’s account in excruciatingly precise details (this year, I have already finished two 400 page journals. Last year, I used up 3 notebooks as my diaries). My ultimate dream is to write a diary entry so intricately detailed that when I open my journal, ten years from now, I can experience all that I am experienced a decade back with the same intensity that I felt then. Needless to say, I haven’t yet been successful in my attempt, but I am trying hard. I write in as much detail as Time and Memory would permit.

For me, words are the path to immortality. Maybe when I am 80 years old, I shall flip through the yellowed pages of my youth, and through the faded blue scribbles relive once again the forgotten past – laugh at the old jokes, chuckle at a daring prank, fondly remember forgotten friends, and for one moment someday the lines between the Past and the Present would blur. 

My verbosity is well known among my peer groups. My friends might tease me, but I am also pretty much in demand. Whenever someone has an important essay to write, they seek my advice. Sometimes before a literature exam, I have had to turn my phone off, so that I could ward off advice-seekers and study. For friends’ birthdays, I don’t have to waste a lot of time looking for the perfect gift. I usually give my friends a book (usually a personal favorite) with a personalized message inside. For some I might even write a poem, and those few scribbled lines alone often overshadow any extravagant gift anyone else might have bought 😛 On the last day of middle school, I was the one everyone wanted to have their slam books filled by. I remember, a girl with whom I had throughout my school life barely ever seen eye to eye with came up to me with her slam book, handed it to me, and said hesitatingly, “Write something good, ok?” 

Yet as much as I love verbosity, I do believe that brevity has its own utility. Sometimes the lesser you write, the better it is. I love reading and occasionally writing Flash Fiction.

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Earnest Hemingway’s six-word story, written as part of a bet, is according to me more poignant than dozens of thick volumes of tragedy taken together. It is one of my favourite works in literature. The story leaves you wanting more, like any good short story should. You yearn to know more about the individuals who published this notice, but you can’t, and that’s when your brain start filling in the blank space underneath the words. You imagine the pain, the angst of the dead child’s parents. You question yourself is the child really dead? Was it a miscarriage? An abortion? Was she kidnapped? You try to imagine the mother’s pain, the pale face of the father …and the story stays with you, because it has, through its brevity transcended the world of fiction and entered the sphere of reality.

Someday I would love to gain that much mastery over the elusive skill of brevity. But never at the cost of losing my verbose style!

Today’s Daily Prompt: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal          Where do you fall on the brevity/verbosity spectrum?

Let’s Teleport!!

Today’s Daily Prompt says: Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

SquareVendor-AnywhereDoors

A nearly impossible choice in my opinion, but if I had to pick just one I think I would buy the anywhere door. I mean I would love a time machine or an invisibility helmet, but I want an anywhere door the most. As a child, one of my favourite books was ‘The Wishing Chair’ by Enid Blyton – a chair that could take you to any place you want. I always dreamt of owning it, but an anywhere door will do too.

Here are the 6 reasons I chose this product over all the others:

1. I love travelling but hate crowds or traffic. With the anywhere door I can visit the entire world in fractions of a second. I could study in Oxford, party in Las Vegas, shop in Paris, and stay at some beautiful place in the countryside, without worrying about travelling time. I can even visit exotic locales like the top of Mount Everest, or the deep recesses of the Amazon Rainforest, without breaking a sweat.

2. I would get to sleep in for longer. If I cancel out the time I spend in travelling every day, I could probably have more than an hour left on my hands. I could sleep in, watch TV, read a book, really the options are endless.

3. I would never be late for any appointment, ever. No more running in late to class, muttering hasty apologies to the professor as he glares at me with livid eyes. I would get up, get dressed and just open the door – tada! I am at college.

4. I can attend all my favourite concerts, movie premieres, book signings, fairs or any other event, even if they are happening across the globe. Shopping would be so much cooler with this – pick up bread from France, olives from Italy, milk from Gujarat and chocolates from Switzerland. The best of the entire world right at my doorstep, literally. 

5. I will never be out of touch with my friends and family. I could pop down for a visit, any time I like.

6. As the product specifies ‘anywhere’ I could even visit fictional places from books, like Hogwarts, Narnia, The Enchanted Forest, Camp Half-Blood…..the possibilities are endless. Get me my Anywhere Door already!!!

Humanity: It is all Grey

Today’s Daily Prompt:The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about. What do you pick? 

One of my favourite poems, especially for its illuminating perspective about humans ins ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake. The poem runs like this:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
 
In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

 

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water’d heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
 
Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
 
The poem talks about Blake’s admiration for the tiger that stands for might. But then he raises questions as to the Creator of the Tiger. Which divine entity, Blake asks, dared to create such a magnificent beast? Was it God or the Devil? If it was God then how could someone who is supposed to be kind and benevolent create a violent creature like the Tiger, after creating the meek lamb. The Tiger would in course of time attack the lamb and cause it distress. How then can God be benevolent and omniscient if it does nothing to prevent the Lamb’s suffering, instead gives rise to it? 
I think the poem presents a perfect representation of the dichotomy of Good and Evil, of Happiness and Misery, that so characterizes human life. It is only through Misery that one can appreciate Happiness. Evil is needed to illuminate all that is pure in Good. Without Evil, Goodness loses its sanctity. This is the truth of human life, I feel. It is hard to divide the world into the black and white, the good and bad. They are too closely inter-linked to be separated. It is all grey.