Book Two: Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

 

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’

When I read the back cover, I was astonished to find that the book was named after a dead lady. As I continued reading, what was more astonishing was the narrator – the second Mrs. de Winter hasn’t given her first name in the book – at all. It makes me think that she didn’t give her enough importance, that her name had been rubbed off by Rebecca.

I found the book developed or rather grew up, as the I turned the pages – progressing from the haunting description of a beautiful, nay, exquisite estate to the silly thoughts of a young woman. There are halts in the journey but it never really bored me. The worrisome thoughts of wife whose love has been spurned combined with the awkwardness of a woman who has been placed in a high station in life continued to keep me engaged and musing. The habit of Mrs. de Winter to muse continuously of what others think of her, is something which is one can readily identify with. It is the condescending attitude of the servant, however, which is a reminder that we are treated as we allow others to treat us. And this is applicable not just to the servants but every character in the book from Mrs. Van Hopper to Mr. Crawley. The people at Manderley ate out of the first Mrs. de Winter’s hand and rebuked the presence of the second.

Looking at the Mrs. de Winter’s love for her husband, it is a fascination – how she grows up from her school girl fantasy, the ornamented ambition of being someone important and looked up to by others to her regret. Like Mr. de Winter says, she loses her sparkle of innocence. Though Mr. de Winters is surely a man of importance, in the end, he is humbled and well so.

What fascinates me to no end is loyalty – of Mrs. Danvers and that of Mr. Crawley. Each to their own employer. The former is almost fanatic and maniacal and the latter is a calm and stern loyalty. Mrs. Danvers, I thought was a ghost at Manderley from her appearance to her actions and Mr. Crawley reminded me of the phrase, ‘once bitten twice shy.’

The story starting off as a romance, builds the thrill and climaxes into one of the most beautiful piece of suspense novel. The ending is a relief as if you were purged of all your sins, the end of a brilliant charade.

In the end, all that everything boiled down to was Manderley – it was the cause, the journey and the result.

It has been difficult for me to write about this book but determinedly, I have. Rebecca is one of those classics, I have read about in books. To write the truth, I found the book a little tedious in the beginning. I presumed the plot and found it a little slow. The fact that a friend had left it in the middle, of course did not help the cause. However, as I urged myself to read on, I couldn’t give up until I had finished it all. And how glad I am – the slant of R of Rebecca’s handwriting shall forever be engraved in my memory even if I have never seen it.

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Unsettled

Unsettled

 

In a dimly lit room, with messed hair and books abound on the bed, she stares nowhere, sitting stiffly on the hard chair. The clock shows three in the morning, yet the bed looks uninviting. She has too much to ponder upon, issues to sort out, too many vices to correct. She finds peace in the crackle of lightening outside and the splash of raindrops falling on the concrete of roads. She waits a while before she pulls back the curtain and throws open her glass panes. Gazing into the dark sky above, the smell of rust and wet grass greet her and the breeze glides in uninvited but not unwelcome. For moments, her thinking ability is incapacitated, taking a deep breath in, she waits for the beauty to sink in. The thunder brings her back. She falls on her completely occupied bed with a soft thud. For months, she has been away in a land she now has to call her own. She wonders how she has survived in midst of swarming voices. The verity of the situation dawns. She has had to adapt. In those crowds and shadows, she has become an addition. In a new land, she has lost and gained and yet the losses have left her unsettled. She thinks aloud whether there were chances, when she could have saved herself from losing. She has learnt well in a battle lost, she decides. The thunders hasten their measures and the rain has become louder in making its presence known. She, however, does not mind. She has accepted that wherever, she goes and whatever, she will grow up to be – this will always be home. A sleepless night and rain in a cluttered room. Always.

Book One : Train To Pakistan – Khushwant Singh

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‘…friendships not forever last,

They know not life, who not this.’

We all are to die one day. You and I. For you, to make the reason of my funeral, a long beard, turban and kirpan would be foolish. For me, the reason of your burial, a skull cap, niqaab and circumcision – moronic.

The back cover of the book will lead you to believing that it is yet another story of a Sikh boy pining for a Mussalman girl yet it is so much more than that. The love angle is only a sub-plot – just a speck of dust in the universe of partition. It starts with a dacoity, continues with the love scene and proceeds to prostitution, politics, epiphanies, illusion, delusion and death – loads of the last. Gory and glory, I think, was the definition of bravery and religion at the time. I am not trying to pass a comment. I am just making a statement.

The dacoity and the death of the money lender of Mano Majra seems trivial in the face of the massacres, yet it is a signal of all that is to come. I think, for most who took part in the killings were either seeking vengeance, entertainment or were just motivated to do it for the country but mostly for the religion. Vengeance or revenge has never been a reason to seek the death of thousands of others. Neither is the growing population a cause to degrade the value of human lives. As the author points out in many parts of the book, India’s population increased every year by four million. Well, duh!

Massacres, bloodshed and evacuations, form a major part of the plot but so does the local Magistrates’ struggle of how to deal with everything, his dreadful nightmares and his self-loathing attitude towards his physical needs of being with a Mussalman prostitute who is of the age of his dead daughter. Well, what is so intriguing, touching and overwhelming is his whisky laden stupors where he thinks of his past, his present and the foolishness of ‘the tryst with destiny.’ Hukum Chand, with his orders which saves, kills and preserves, how aptly has he been named?

Iqbal? Mussalman or Sikh? I am still not sure, but the dichotomy in his name has been well used in the book to create differences in how this well educated, ambitious, power seeking, ‘England-returned’ will be and is treated. His character, though, crafted to be the helper and guide, in the end, falls weak. A diet of pills, tin-contents and whisky, he is just one of those who go to jail because it brings glory. In a time where there is chaos, self preservation must be deemed supreme, that becomes his principle, in the end.

Meet Singh is the Sikh priest, advocates the right but thinks that he is beyond the power to take an action. His job is to preach and the Guru will stand in the path of those who want to sin and punish those who continue to do so.

Juggat Singh, the lover, the badmash, the saviour. His rustiness, love of the blind man’s daughter brings him the end. And he gives his love, the world.

In all this, Mano Majra, the border village is bereft of its tenants, its trains and the principles of a simple village.

The book for me raises several topics – alcoholism, masochism, the perception of religion, stereotypes and character. But mostly, who is the greatest? An educated social worker drowned in his whisky laced stupour, the magistrate who has records to show that he did try, the badmash who beat up another one, the sub-inspector, the Mussalmans who evacuated, the Sikhs and Hindus who wanted to save their Mussalman bhais or those who planned and killed for revenge?

A train, which is carrying the Muslims to Pakistan. It is carrying the unwed pregnant lover, the child prostitute, the tenant brothers, carrying them all to a new country. Lives have been taken, will be taken and properties looted, conscience burdened and ropes broken.

 

I have always been interested in reading Partition literature. Ironically, all I have always read about Partition is either the official history or unpublished works of virtual acquaintances. This was one of the main reason behind the anxiety to read the books besides it being an Indian classic. The book had been lying in my vault for two years now and I think the old author’s death and a review of his life in a daily was the last straw that led me to reading it.

 

Disclaimer – The views are purely mine and clearly, the review is incomplete and does not encompass the different parts of the book.

 A/N – I wish the quote were true for animosity as well.

Unspoken

Unspoken

 

I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I am sick.

It is not in my blood or my bosom. It is just there, everywhere.

Every time I think, plan and decide.

Then, open I, my mouth and sigh.

I am hung-over on paralysis. I am high.

Choked, no words appear and rusted, my muscles have disappeared.

I cannot bring myself to look her in the eye.

I cannot talk and I do not cry.

I do not crane my neck to see what is it, that is so wrong.

But, when I am alone, I fear.

For only a dreadful dirge I can hear.

I have no excuses to give to myself but words that speak loud of somebody who was once so dear.

I know that I am wrong, yet I am not good enough with spoken words to speak the same.

I berate myself, console my broken heart, pick up the broken threads of a relationship, I had cut hard.

With scissors sharp in my hands, I had snapped a chord which can no longer be heard.

A jarring relationship, I survive every moment I breathe.

To me, an existence it seems in a life to lead.

Time as such, I know, will heal no wounds.

Unless, the hands of the clock I can wind to a time past for a treasure lost so soon.

It is dead and I hope, it will be gone as well.

This guilt in the vines of which I am bound.

It festers, festers like the wound it is.

A blow to my pride and all I want to do is apologise.

I know, courage is not something I have ever had.

Not when forgiveness is slack.

I hope, winds will carry these to you.

Words, they are unspoken,

But felt in a moment of despair,

all which wish is to convey,

how sorry I am

for having lost you,

in the clutter of the year.

*In memory of a shadow of something which is no more.*

DeeLoony – She 1.04

Long in the night, when lights are turned out and people are snoring away, while they cuddle into their pillows on single beds, she is awake, out of her covers and gazing into a mug of tepid coffee. Sometimes, she listens to yesteryear songs on the radio and taps away on her laptop. Sometimes, she just drapes her shawl around her shoulders and takes a walk in the lawns, with the cold breeze caressing her face. It is difficult to gauge her expression. Sometimes, I feel she is under constipation and sometimes, she has that faraway look. I wonder if she is thinking about the garbage grounds or is she thinking about her love life. Sometimes, I find her just sitting on the bench with a book with the whole world tuned out. In such times, I have often seen a myriad of emotions pass on her emotions. I wonder, who laughs out loud at something they are reading in fiction? She does. Sometimes, she is carrying bottles from one building to another. Most times, I feel like a stalker. May be I am. She is, however, a book with its shades. I have heard her shout in the most un-womanly manner and calling decent girls weird manly nicknames. And I have heard her talk in the most polite manner and sipping coffee in the most ladylike manner. She seems to be her own boss, deciding where to wander and where to stop. She is an enigma, I want to explore. She, all I can say, is like Moriarty, with so many facets yet to be known.

DeeLoony – She 1.03

She is too fast, she is intimidating and most of all, she is dazzling. At the first meeting, she had not been able to tell between her cold coffee and bhai’s Devil’s Own. It is laughable how Maa still recognises her in the same manner. ‘The Devil’s Own Chor.’ She is very difficult to keep up with. It is scaring when she doesn’t reply to texts – ‘may be, I have texted something foolish.’ She seems to love clothes and has a motherly touch. She cares for even those she doesn’t care for. She is an actor and she is an intellectual. She will make up to you for an incidence, which wasn’t her fault with a night out on the terrace for a tete-a-tete. She will let you talk shit without interruptions. She replies at all the right places and will let you pat yourself even though all you have talked is shit. She is ambitious and she has all the power to achieve the ambitions. She lends the power to you as well but… She is straightforward and likes to listen to the FM and makes fun of songs like ‘motichoor ke laddoo sa.’ She likes peace but she is fun-loving. It is very easy to fall in love with her and to come to care for her because she cares for you even though you are just another stranger. She makes everything look so easy until you try it yourself. Then, all you want to ask her is, ‘how the hell did you do it?’ She, I can tell you, has a magic wand. 😛

To you, my dear wingman,

On your birthday,

I wish, you find all you are looking for,

And you get all that you actually deserve.

Happy Birthday. (albeit a little early)

Loads of Love,

Deeksha 🙂

DeeLoony – She 1.02

She 1.02

It is strange and twisty how you make friends with strangers and end up teasing them about long lost friends.

She is like an eight year old, who in his curiosity of the world ends up embarrassing his parents. She needs to be kept pace with and when you walk in overcrowded streets of old Delhi, she needs her fingers to be firmly grasped. Sometimes, you also need to tell her off from staring at strangers or a couple, who are coochi-cooing in a secluded, dusty and off-limits corner of a monument. She is peculiar in her taste for travel, especially when she doesn’t venture out. She stares at the sign boards in Rajiv Chowk and wonders if the whole population of Delhi has descended down at the station to take a metro train to their destination. She avoids South-Indian food and wants to buy the beautiful Chinese cutlery at MT. She is firm in her stand when she doesn’t let you spend a large amount at an obnoxious cafe which serves lunch in side-plates. She is a force of wind, strong enough to sway you from your spot – just so you can save her from buying highly priced accessories, she just wants to buy. She is fun but sometimes, she irritates you like the child, she is. You’d think she hasn’t grown-up. She doesn’t understand the nuances of being a rebel adult and avoids even fruit beer like a devoted good girl. Then, she talks like an eighty year old grand mom with her story of faraway countries and her wisdom of long spent lives. She makes a grumpy morning a perfect recipe of shoe bites, mushrooms and bright colours for a damp winter day. She makes it a day, at the end of which, you can’t help but chant how wonderful it had been.