Thoughts on Character and Damage

This is yet another one of my favorite novels. Here is the link:

The Sense of an Ending. Even the title captivates. As usual, this is not a book review, but a brief commentary on how the book affects me. Yes, it’s always about the reader. Reader-response theory all the way, baby.

The writer ponders life – a major theme, but he also considers the similarities between life and literature. Of course, literature mimics life, and also distorts it. But I am concerned with our lives. Are they actually better than/worse than fiction? Here’s the quote:

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature. Look at our parents–were they the stuff of Literature? At best, they might aspire to the condition of onlookers and bystanders, part of a social backdrop against which real, true, important things could happen. Like what? The things Literature was about: Love, sex, morality, friendship, happiness, suffering, betrayal, adultery, good and evil, heroes and villains, guilt and innocence, ambition, power, justice, revolution, war, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the individual against society, success and failure, murder, suicide, death, God.”

When I talk to people (and I love talking to people, about the deep, real, raw instances of life), their stories usually share a similar theme: a lack of contentedness. A struggle for happiness. A desire to be happy, fulfilled, but just not being able to reach that state. I have spoken to people my age, people younger, and those who are older. People who are healthy, people who are single, married, divorced, widowed – all sorts of people. And yet when I ask “are you happy?” I am usually met with silence, tears, or shock. The shock comes from my question, I think. We hardly ask. Are you happy? Are you okay? And when people do ask if you’re “okay”, they rarely ever wait for a response. As characters, as people, they have grown accustomed to a life filled with conflict and damage.

Which brings me to the second quotation, also one that has affected me greatly:

“I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not,except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it,and how this affects our dealings with others.Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it;some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.”

We are all damaged. Some of us beyond repair. Some of us still try to find a sense of lightness. Some try to heal. Others take up therapy, others become healers, while others just disconnect entirely from the world of emotions, to “avoid further damage.” Does it mean they are ruthless, like Barnes states? I disagree. But I do wonder whether damage really lasts a lifetime. Do damaged people bring on further damage to those around them? A friend says we always need to be in a “healthy” environment, away from anyone that is emotionally damaging to our well-being. I haven’t made up my mind. As always, I am listening, observing, and analyzing. My one conclusion so far is that we are all one Psycho Nation. 


I lost my hearing today – only for a few hours, luckily. And I sat thinking about what it must be like to live completely deaf. One adapts. 

We are always so scared of deafness, blindness, paralysis, the deterioration of the body. But everything we are so afraid of is actually not as terrifying when it actually happens. When we lose someone we love, we think we’ll never get out of bed in the morning. When we lose one of our senses, we think we’ll never survive. 

But this survival is a concept that needs a longer post. I need to think about survival, and what it means. I wish there was a course we could all sign up for: Survival 101. And once you pass the course, you’re set for life. Then again, we’re never really set for life. Perhaps that’s the miscalculation right there. It’s all random. 

I probably should make friends with Randomness already. As an individual, I have always been so predictable, so consistent, and yet everything about my body, and how I react to it, is random and inconsistent. 

And that’s all for now

Distance and Voices

I walked through the aisle at the Sultan Center today, trying to find the usual groceries we used to buy. My purchases have changed. My needs have altered. My hand reached for the canned mushrooms, and I heard your voice complaining about freshness.

“Don’t forget your vegetables. Get them fresh. No, no, that one – this one looks a bit discolored.” There. That was definitely your voice speaking to me. Clearly, that was your agitated tone, and the apologetic smile.

Hands fumbled as I examined the greens.

Then someone smiled at me. I wondered what you’d say.

The stranger smiled, and walked away. I thought about your smile. You had smiled endlessly, countless days, and you had still walked away, left me barely standing on my own. I know that life is all about moments. I know that we are doomed, and I know that we make our own realities, and we make choices. Choices are all about constraints and chains. But then again, there are choices that liberate. There are choices that help us rise from the ashes.

Would you do it all over again?

I can’t answer that question, but I’ll ask you. And I know you can read between the lines – so are you still you?

The photo is from I Wrote This For You by Iain Thomas. 



Sometimes loss opens your eyes to its counterpart, and there is something to gain. Sometimes we are preoccupied with all that is missing, all that is wrong, and everything that isn’t as beautiful as we wish. Recently, I have gone through something very difficult, and I have felt that the world was a very dark and alienating place. I used to be an optimist, and I still like to think I retain some characteristics of an optimist, but I am no longer the same person I was a few months back. I am aware that we are always evolving, always changing, and we don’t actually remain untouched, untainted and unchanged by the world. I began to fear that as I was starting to physically deteriorate, I would no longer find happiness and/or beauty anywhere.

When reality hits, your views on life, love, and even friendships are shaken. But then I had that moment, as I always do. That one moment, where one missing piece of the puzzle finds its way into your brain, and you realize that there is more in front of you than you could have ever understood. One day, as I was on the couch, feeling physically dead, and nonchalant, that missing puzzle piece spoke to me, and she whispered, “You are an Assistant Professor of literature now. Do you understand what that means?” She asked me why I was so numb, why I didn’t seem to embrace my happy moment. Once a dream, now my reality… this was now a part of my identity – academic identity, at least. The point where numbness and raw emotion meet, the point where they collide, that exact second when someone’s genuine love jolts your senses – something suddenly aches. I realized that it was a deep place within me, an ache that was more grateful than painful, grateful that there was depth somewhere, and I had been touched by it. I had been so alienated from the world, from myself, that I struggled to find meaning and beauty anywhere. But my missing piece reminded me. I think we all have these pieces, floating around, just waiting for us to reach out and claim them.

I think I’ll be ending all my personal posts with this: and that’s all for now.

Thoughts on love

Real intimacy. Real, mature love, is the desire to be with the person you love because you want to. Not out of guilt, pity, a desire to control, possess, or to prove something. I am constantly fascinated by how people express love, and lack thereof.
It doesn’t make any sense when you claim to love someone yet constantly hurt them. And hypocrisy does not fit well with love. To love, you must first honor yourself, and honor your lover’s heart. To humiliate and destroy them, in the name of social pressure/society – that can only be utter selfishness.

I wish people who loved actually understood that love does not obey rules. It does not seek acceptance. It finds its home in hearts, not in fancy houses, big publicized events (wedding ceremonies), and it certainly does not facilitate power struggles. You only learn to love maturely when you recognize the infinite power in human vulnerability, and you embrace it, respect it, and solidify it.

Those who Run away, the Abandoners, are constantly lagging, never catching up. Maybe their hearts cannot handle big, crazy, endless love. I think it’s a waste to have a heart beating, when you continue to dishonor it.

I love you. Those three words are a promise. They cannot be hurled at anyone. And yet words and bodies are sold to the highest bidder. The desire for desire and love is dying, while the struggle for power thrives.

Speechless Rant

I have been bleeding words for the past few months. And now, all I am left with is a few letters from an alphabet I can barely recognize. You’ve robbed me of my love for words. I hate that we shared our passion for literature, for poetry, and for stories. You’ve crafted one hell of a story for us. A beautiful one, no doubt. But you see, I understood you. And I still understand you. I knew the ending of this story. Foreshadowing exists for a reason- after all, I can’t be a literature major for nothing. I absolutely knew you would be the one to leave.

And now you’ve left, and I am left with memories that might as well be a figment of my imagination. I called after you madly. And every night onwards, 2 a.m. haunted me. I’ve begun to despise the number. The clock mocks me, it repeats the same pattern every night, and it is always the same result. You, over there, and me, over here. Neither one of us reaching out. It takes two to tango, but really, only one of us to destroy the other. What you don’t understand yet, is that you have destroyed the part of you that was aching to be birthed, to be born –that part I had held in my hands, waiting patiently for it to come through. I waited for you to come through. Boy, I waited. For someone who has never waited, for someone who takes life two steps at a time, I put every ounce and every definition of the word ‘patience’ into the promise of you. It was merely a promise. Built on words, again. Built on a vision in the near, and the far, future. And I held on, because you promised me, so confidently, that you wouldn’t leave. But that’s only one version of the truth. I held on because I know you need me. You’re not telling the whole truth when you say you’re confused. You can’t be that confused. You’ve unconfused yourself the second you said ‘Yes’ to me.

What’s left now is just fear. What kills me, what really kills me, is that now we’ll never know, just how brave you really are. And I believed in you more than I wanted to believe, and I was prepared to have my heart broken – but I was not prepared for this trauma. I was not prepared to believe that I really had no reason, whatsoever, to believe in you.