04 June 2014

different voices, different perspectives; authors of colour

some time ago, i read americanah by chimamanda adichie, and it blew my mind. the protagonist's take on racism in america was so sharp and awesome. also, the novel opened up nigeria to me. i have previously read nothing but 'things fall apart' (for a class, it doesn't count) from the african continent, and i know so very little about it. not only did americanah let me see a country and people that i was ignorant of, but it also showed me the common humanity that we share --and this is what i love about literature. when i read a book about people in different places, in different situations, speaking different languages, and yet i can still relate to them, i continue thinking of their stories after closing the book; that is just so enthralling, liberating, awakening!

i was so in awe of adichie that i recently finished her half of a yellow sun as well. and now i want more. i am suddenly hooked on nigeria and africa, the way i am with japan (haruki murakami, david mitchell). fiction from south asia holds a different level of interest for me, given that i am far more familiar with the places, culture and language.

seeing that many of my favourite authors, and those that i read a lot of, are not white (khaled hosseini, kamila shamsie, tan twan eng, isabelle allende, lisa see, mohammed hanif, kiran desai), and given my interest in world literature, diversity and cross cultural experiences, i was a little startled to read about the difficulties faced by authors of color. it comes as no surprise really, but it was just something that i had not thought about.

while reading up on this issue, i came across authors i had not heard of: aimee phan, bill cheng, nnedi okarofor and many others. so, i think i need to spend more time reading authors of color.

as lilit marcus said on reading women authors,
but opening myself up to a variety of female perspectives made me more aware of the female lives around me … Feminism, as bell hooks pointed out, is for everyone. And when we become more aware of the small injustices and tiny everyday tragedies around us, we become better people. Reading women’s voices helped me to hear them more loudly in my daily life. Our culture is getting better and better at encouraging women to speak, but it’s not doing enough to listen to what they say when they do.
i am excited to read different voices and stories, as well as play a tiny role in increasing their audience and publicity. recommendations are more than welcome.

[UPDATE] so, it is not all that easy to find these diverse books on kindle, or even in bookstores here. sigh. i am not giving up though..

03 June 2014

a child of the universe

i have been wanting to write forever, but time keeps eluding me. now that i am finally here, i will just let the words flow..

i met z in may, after EIGHT YEARS! it was only for one day, just some hours, but gosh, it was a wonderful day. it was time taken out of our usual routines, surreal, and yet totally real. i love you z!

on the same day, i attended a panel discussion of bohra women, which just opened my mind to the possibilities that surround me, to the world that is waiting outside my door.. as i have noted so many times, my world is quite quite narrow these days. as the twins grow, and as i get more confident, i can see the world widening however..

lisan-ud-dawat is such a beautiful language, and it was such a pleasure to hear it being so eloquently spoken that day. the ‘gujerati’ that surrounds me here has been such a sore to my ears and heart; this was the sweetest balm.

the past weekend was just lovely, and i am still riding its high.. may it last throughout the week!

Max Erhman

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible without surrender 
be on good terms with all persons. 
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; 
and listen to others, 
even the dull and the ignorant; 
they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, 
they are vexations to the spirit. 
If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain and bitter; 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. 
Exercise caution in your business affairs; 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; 
many persons strive for high ideals; 
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself. 
Especially, do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. 
Take kindly the counsel of the years, 
gracefully surrendering the things of youth. 
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. 
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. 
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe, 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here. 
And whether or not it is clear to you, 
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, 
and whatever your labors and aspirations, 
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. 
Strive to be happy. 

this poem is another ‘if’ by kipling.. :) and the last line is a gentle reminder that being happy requires work, it is far from effortless. just as loving also requires work..