what are you holding on to
Those ideas, plans, views
opinions of what all under the sky
For waters carry no words.
not a single verse.
And every made-up belief
adds a white-picket fence
around your distraction fields.
What are you holding on to?
Sink deep, into
spaces that make you quiet.
Dig old forsaken pleasures out,
those fragile bits of absolute silence.
You don’t have to answer it.
But you see – what’ll be, will be
and no reason,
no strength of a grip
ever made a difference.
Or take Haruki Murakami for example. In his work he communicates so much of his own poignant observations about the world through his characters, without sounding preachy. His words tend to be gentle and poetic to the point of creating soft background music, with an effect similar to those in movie scenes. After reading almost all of his books, it’s still hard to pin how he does it. On the first page of his novel “Dance Dance Dance” there is this passage: “I wake up. I wonder where I am. Not only do I think about it, I also ask myself out loud: “Where am I?” But the question makes no sense. Even without asking, I know the answer. I am here, in my life. In my everyday life – an addition to my true being. A few incidents and affairs, circumstances that god-knows-when became my attributes, although I’ve never accepted them.” (A loose translation from another language.) I don’t know about others, but I find it hard to escape this riptide of vulnerability; helpless about the main character’s – my own – helplessness, I end up being pulled into yet another Murakami’s kingdom.
Many of my favorite novels are told from the first person, at least in part. I recently read Erlend Loe’s latest book; in it, he brings back a beloved character, an outcast who doesn’t fit into the world of ‘normality’. The story didn’t appeal to me as much as the first one but the narration was equally captivating. So this outcast comes back after having lived a solitary life in the woods for a few years, and estimates his wife’s new partner from afar. “He is unbearably symmetrical”, our hero thinks, “everything he has on one side of the face is there on another.” (A loose translation on my part as I didn’t read it in English.) Who writes that, if you know what I mean!? Loe has a way with those everyday nuances people take for granted and things that go without saying. You can’t help but feel with this character, and through a simplest of sentences, realize the intensity of his emotions.
(To be continued)
Shaping one’s imagination into gripping prose is a lot like martial arts: the end result doesn’t give away the amount of sweat that goes into the act. You see, my literary heroes seem to have this quality that escapes being shaped into singular advice on plotting, dialogue and such. One could say that I enjoy stories that bring absurdity into the mundane, those that play with my perception of everyday things. If the main character or the narrator is a strong and a captivating persona, the story, to me, becomes secondary; they can well grab my attention by telling me a chicken soup recipe. And I guess I enjoy first-person narratives for that same reason. It’s as if a singular, deeply limited view on events sits well with my own narrowness and helplessness as a human being…
(To be continued)
The train came and people rushed out in clusters. A teenage girl with large headphones and a handful of gadgets smacked me with her backpack. A man in his 30’s stumbled when a radiant woman sought his embrace. I wondered if she will do the same. Will she wear an expression of glee, resolution? Or unease – my insides iced at the thought. The conductor held a bent woman’s bag, escorting her to the exit. I stared at the dispersing crowd, waiting for the verdict to arrive with her face. The last groups walked, chatted and laughed. She wasn’t there.
Allow yourself to remember, in the silence of rain
When stories hush over fields of forgotten dreams
And earthy smell of wet ground, briefly, takes you home
Allow yourself to remember, in the presence of laughter
Where inhales meet exhales on that bitter-sweet border
Of everything that is, and everything that hasn’t become
Allow yourself to remember, when darkness pulls you close
Whispering night terrors whilst dawn holds back
And starless skies make you wonder if price came too high
Allow yourself to remember, as age and diamonds pile
Whenever destiny confirms that her grip allows no escape
Allow yourself to remember me, in moods of the heart, sometimes
Across time and distance, it waits
For us to slow down and see it for what it is;
Ties, invisible, have a character and patience of their own.
Weighed down by baggage, we hustle ourselves
Into the known – or that which we deem knowable
Where minds produce realities of our liking
And we get to ignore forces of nature, including our own.
Across time and distance, few bonds survive
Like cacti in a desert that need no water to bloom
In lonely landscapes that penetrate our existence.
I can’t tell if our orbits shall run into one another again, or
Whether our circumstances will be aligned.
But I sit here watching the invisible link
Between us: a trail intact while we’re still strangers.
Across time and distance, you make me smile.