I suppose one thing remains true:
I suppose one thing remains true:
Sharing a few thoughts on Dark Things by Sukanya Venkatraghavan
Dark Things by S. seemed like the best book to read after the heavyweight that was Rahman’s In The Light of What We Know (which I have still not grasped in its entirety, but this story is for another day).
After all, Dark Things was described to be about fantasy, and romance – two genres that I had steadfastly avoided in the last few years. It seemed like the best thing to lose myself in, a world that was fictitious and in characters that did not exist.
How foolish I was.
Someone once told me that in every fictitious tale, lies a smidgeon of reality, a reality that you don’t even comprehend fully, until it is right in your face, staring at you, demanding you to deal with it. This reality does not take excuses for an answer. It is a reality that wants you to know that truth always finds you, even if you refuse to see it, once, twice, however many times.
Perhaps, this is the best descriptor that I can provide, as I finished this book.
Dark Things is about many things, but ultimately, it is about love. (Just like life, I suppose. Life is about many things, but ultimately, it is about love).
There is a love story that is explicit, that which transpires between Dwai and Ardra. It is right there. It is not that complicated, it begins in the early chapters of the story, and it lasts till the end of the book. But this is not the love story that demands one’s attention in this novel.
There is another relationship that never quite begins, and never quite ends, between Dara and Ardra. A relationship much more complicated, much more real, much more relatable, and one that has no conclusion even as one draws to the end of this tale.
Because it speaks of a love that was, until it wasn’t. A love that wasn’t, until it was.
How can feelings, that have never been acknowledged, ever come to fruition? And yet, are these feelings any less real?
All of us carry these tales close to our hearts. Of the loves that we wished we had done something about. Of the people we yearn for, but can never return to. Of the things that we could have said, but didn’t. Of all the ships which have sailed, of all the memories that remain in the harbour.
It is so difficult to name this particular brand of love, because it is one that we have never quite owned, one that was never truly ours. And yet, perhaps, because of this very fact, this is the love that will always remain with us, because it is a love laced with freedom.
And if love should be anything, it should be that. It should be free.
This was that smidgeon of reality in Dark Things that caught me by surprise.
Because it is easy to forget, in this day and age, where life is about ownership, where relationships are about claiming and staking, that what is free and gone, is probably what will remain with us forever, however ironic that may seem.
In the concluding chapter of this novel, Ardra says that she can never quite return Dwai’s love the way he deserves to be loved (I presume she meant, as completely and wholly as he felt for her). And this is because of Dara. What she had with him, which was really, what she didn’t have with him.
This was another smidgeon of reality that demanded my attention.
Most times, we do not end up with the people who have us completely. We end up with the people whom we meet at a particular leg of the journey, who get to have the most of what we have to offer, to share, to experience. We are incomplete; the love we share, mostly complete.
And this is how our (love) stories will also come to a close. Never quite finished. A continuum. Just like life.
And perhaps, if we remember this a little more fervently, we will come to accept this passing of feelings a little better.
Read this book, and meander through your own memories of what is, and what isn’t.
*picture is not mine*
Of memories, and thoughts, and days, and this life –
Last week – a documentary that ripped at the insides and asked what does it mean to be a woman, where big words like indigenous and minority rights lay like fine haze in a dark air conditioned room, where at midnight, we talked about being women, and how there was no generalisation, there could never be a generalisation on behaviour, because your woman is very different from my woman, but together, women, we love, we need, and we will help and support one another. That night, for the one hour that sleep visited, dreams so dark of intestines spilling out, a girl’s tears, and a mother’s disappointment. Women.
A few days ago – 3.5 years later, a reunion, but is it really a reunion when the friendship had always been there, where the cord of love had always remained, pulsating some days brighter, some days, not so bright, but always, always, present. 3.5 years later, when conversation flowed around Truth, and memories, and a smile so bright, and a declaration: I am happy. I cannot write, I have not written, but I am happy. Maybe, because, there was no more sadness to fuel the words, maybe, the process, the business of living had taken all the emotions and set them aside for a while – rest, says life. Know me first. Then, the words will come. That night, for the one hour that sleep visited, dreams of swarthy hands, and wine, and salt, and a shade of tea that I can never forget but with only two sugars, and the goodbye, but with love, with love, the finality, after 3.5 years.
Yesterday – the colours of red and fractured orange making patterns behind the film of incense that twirled and caressed and rose into the dark, somewhere into white ceiling, with the sound of waves, crashing, furious, furious, continuously crashing, a medley of arriving and retreating, a little like two people, a little like two hearts, a lot like two mouths, the red, the deep red of bruised, the deep red of a wall hanging, the deep red of a spot on the map, the deep red of wine, and inside, silence. That night, for the first time, in a long time, sleep.
Sunday mornings are for slow thoughts and love-words from people who never give up on you.
I tend to say that I have about 7.5 friends in the world – some who are physically near me, and some whom I have not seen in more than a year now. Most people laugh when they hear this, not realising that I’m being dead serious as I laugh along with them. 7.5, give or take when you’re not on talking terms because of a petty argument, or a sheer lack of contact due to time differences, and crazy-as-hell schedules.
It happens. You separate, you come back together again. Sometimes, the bond turns out to be stronger than before, sometimes, you realise that there is no point in holding onto relationships that don’t do anything for the people in it. You say goodbye. Sometimes, you just let silence take the space of where the people used to be.
It happens. It’s not altogether a bad thing.
I’m talking to my friend in the time-space that we have created for ourselves. I’m sending him voice notes via Whatsapp while having my morning coffee. I’ve been a bad friend for the past few weeks. Flakey, hardly reachable, always moaning about one thing or another, falling asleep in the middle of text-scapades, disappearing on Skype dates, etc. He hasn’t taken offence. Instead, as I type this, he is writing me a rap that is supposedly an accolade to my life. I’m laughing. I haven’t seen him in almost a year now.
I was attending my Detox Flow class yesterday. My instructor started the class with his usual words of wisdom: Let go of the people and the things that do nothing for you. Surround yourself with people who give, and who love, and who are able to receive the same giving and loving with open hearts.
It struck a chord. It has been a rough few months. It has been a rough few months, not because the challenges were any harder, but because the negativity was a lot more poignant. It has been a rough few months, because sometimes, it would just be a hell lot easier to forget all the lessons that have been learnt over the past few years and fall back into the vicious cycle of self-serving familiarity and lethargy. It has been a rough few months because it has been hard to keep making the same choices over and over, each time with a little more self-doubt.
After my Detox Flow class, I had mint blend tea and Belgian waffles with a lover. We are in similar places, this lover and I, trapped in a period of uncertainty and frustration at the bigger, badder world and the people in it. We reflected on what our instructor had told us earlier – the message had come to us at the right time.
“Drop your upsets. Make the right choices, even if they aren’t always easy. Don’t be selfish. Send your energy to where it is needed the most – to your heart, to your mind, to people you love, to people who love you. Say goodbye with grace.”
We encouraged each other, giggled, and parted ways, hearts a little lighter. And so, another day passed with love given, and love received.
I suppose this will happen again. The frustration, the inertia, the anger at the unfairness of people and their small-mindedness, the self-doubt, the worries.
Then , the process of “dropping your upsets” starts again.
(As I write this, I’m still talking to my friend. He tells me to send him a draft of my post before I publish it. “You need a grammar checker”, he quips. Yep, one of my 7.5s, this one, always giving me tough love. Thank God for people who don’t give up on you, is all I can say).
Three days: a series of disparate thoughts.
Thursday afternoon. The sun was high up in the sky. A long day. Lunch time. A bowl of spicy ramen and a cup of hot green tea. The restaurant was empty. The phone was switched off.
Salty broth, tender meat, spice that reached the back of my throat, and stayed.
There was space to taste food.
Friday evening. Golden light in the house, soft music in the background. A conversation with mother, an outpouring of woes. Sometimes, our roles get reversed, but friday, friday was a day to be the seeking daughter.
A reminder – there’s no need to be strong all the time. Growth is in the breakdown, and the rebuilding.
Saturday morning by the sea. Two fishermen, a tiny rocky pier, fishing lines standing erect, the sound of waves, constant, relentless, always determined. I chose a spot between them; we continued in our silence. They were waiting for their catch, I was waiting for the elusive inner quiet.
We were all meditating, in our own ways.
Saturday mid-morning: two hibiscus in full, full bloom. Look at us, they say, delight in our beauty. It is your right.
Yes, yes. It is my right.
Taken in Singapore.