26 May 2011

As she read The Golden Notebook.

"It was all wrong, ugly, unhappy and coloured with cynicism, but nothing was tragic, there were no moments that could change anything or anybody. From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing."

She took in these words, slowly, one at a time wishing the sentence would never end. But it did. And so she put the book down beside her pillow thinking of the phrases that made up what she had just read, unable to fathom the depth of emotion that surged through her and unwilling to comprehend the complexity of the feelings it conjured up. 

She looked around her room, where she spent most of her time alone and couldn't help but think that she was just like Anna Wulf, the protagonist of the book she was reading and so consumed by-Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook. Like Anna, she too felt like herself only when she was alone in there. She took everything too personally, and this book was no different. 

She looked at the old beautiful brown desk in the far corner of her room. It belonged to her grandmother, a beautiful actress in the 1930s. She felt priveleged to have it and forced herself to feel sentimental about it only because much of the owner's life was  mysterious and at the risk of being forgotten. It's small drawer was now home to mundane things like files containing marksheets, old school certificates, visiting cards, etc.There were small open shelves on both sides of the desk, home to a not so mundane, yet meagre collection of fiction on one side and communist, feminist literature on the other. 

In the adjacent corner, a big brown cupboard filled with too many clothes, most of which remain unused, strangely pretentious and aspirational. Alongside it, a mirror. Vantiy. Distressing, disappointing, debilitating vanity. In another corner next to the real window which always remained shut, amidst a mess of wires and switchboards, a desktop computer which often served as a replacement window. Acutally,a magical window through which the view changes everyday. One that allowed her to see too much and excused her for being an emotional exhibitionist. A window through which she could reach out when she wanted to and hide behind the curtains when she needed to. And the final, most important corner - the door, an escape.

This room, with its familiar corners, was the landscape of her private misery. The much dreaded vanity-corner, the window which served as a parallel ambiguous reality and finally the haunted corner, with the ghosts of brilliant writers, thinkers, tragic characters,grandmother and the tremendous weight of their ideas. But it was true, there were no tragic moments here. The ghosts drove out the cynicism, the imagined ugliness of the reflection in the mirror and reminded her about pointlessness of excessive vanity. And when the view from the window was too wrong and bred unhappiness there was always the door, for an escape, a reality check and the comfort of real human contact.

And then she thought "..there were no moments that could change anything or anybody" . She knew that it wasn't true and she was comforted by that realisation. There were moments that could change her and had already changed her. But these moments always happened when she least expected it and often pass by unnoticed. Just like the corners of her room,her landscape, those moments were always taken for granted. So much of life lived in corners of rooms, edges of spaces, peripheries and circumferences. The landscape changed along with the occupant of that landscape. She realised its inevitability and vowed to be more conscious of these moments,create them even.Smiling, she got up, switched on the radio and turned up the volume. It was her favourite koothu song. So she danced. 

(This was inspired by that beautiful line from Doris Lessing's Golden Notebook, Laura Brown's story from the movie The Hours where Julianne Moore plays Laura, a depressed 1950s housewife and mother who after reading Mrs.Dalloway takes a drastic decision to get out of an unhappy marriage and of course, my room)

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