Sand Dunes (Photo credit: David Stanley)
I’ve been away from my blog for a few weeks, startled by a recent change in the landscape that surrounds me. I’ve been reflecting on the nature of tragedy, both on the public shared level and in the private space, and I found that I was short of words to share with you via my blog, or with myself, in the stories I have been spinning.
Writing is a healing tool, but I find it is more powerful when employed at a distance, after allowing oneself to live in the raw moment. It is essential to blunder, to understand that we do not have control of the overarching narrative that is our own life, before we attempt to shape and mold an interpretation of existence that pleases us in our stories. For myself at least, anything else would be an attempt to escape feeling, and that strategy always comes back to bite me.
I have been affectionately accused of being cruel to my characters in The Purana Qila Stories, by throwing obstacles in the path of their happiness. If I picked up the thread of my tales now, I would be tempted to give my good (fictional) friends the happy endings they deserve, but my writing would probably be unsound and dishonest. I believe in the exhortation of Ernest Hemingway: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
For now, I will content myself with the true sentences crafted by other authors and the distilled, clear truth of poetry, none more so than the haiku. Here’s one from the master, Basho:
Now the swinging bridge
Like our tendrilled life
I was invited to guest post at Rachelle’s Window and I wrote a piece about my mother, the first storyteller in my life, and how memories of her childhood inspired my writing. When my mother talks about those early days of hardship, she radiates so much happiness, that I always had the impression that there was something magical about those times. I feel the sense of community she had in those days, and the joy that could be found in the small things. These were times of poverty and tragedy in India, both on a national and personal level, but my mother taught me about facing adversity cheerfully. I can’t always emulate her, but I recognize the value of the gift she has given. I also learned how education and survival were inextricably linked in her life, another lesson I have taken to heart and tried to share with my own children.
I hope you will stop by and read “My Mother’s Sari.” When I first started my blog, I wrote about why I had called it “Coins in the Well” (you can find that post in the archives). My mother is a practical kind of person and not given to rhetorical flights of fancy–she would probably giggle with embarrassment if she were reading this–but she is a well of inspiration to me.
I noticed these leaf imprints on the driveway this morning. They made me think of The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes and how the natural world and the world of the imagination share the same impetus, to leave a mark. I wanted to capture that, before the rain washes them away.
Coin Collection – I (Photo credit: д§mд)
My mother once told me that a great-, great-, great-grandfather had several wives. When he died, his youngest wife disappeared with the money he had hidden in a well. I love this story because it shows me that our pasts are rich with fantastical stories and myths, and that, for writers, inspiration gleams at the bottom of a well somewhere.