Friday, 11 November 2011

Wandering Star- J.M.G. Le Clezio

I was introduced to this book by Senior S and she had said "You'll love it". I did.

The story, in brief, is about two young girls  Esther and Nejma who live through the war. It is about hopes and dreams, of death and the ugliness of war. Of spirits that are broken and still survive. It is, as one blurb says, "the story of human suffering , human misery" and gives the reader "lessons in Humanity".

But when I read through the book (in parts) I experienced a whole range of emotions. The book talked of childhood dreams, of freedom, of being hunted down- of being stripped of dignity, of living with the constant fear of death. I felt mortified and angry. At one point I wanted to kill Hitler all over again- I wanted to mutilate all the people who had caused the war.

Clezio describes with painful detail the atmosphere  these people live in. He paints a picture with deliberate slowness, with deliberate clarity that clenches your heart painfully and reminds you of all that a man is capable of doing to another.

The stories of the two girls are enmeshed, they are intertwined because of their suffering, because of their status as refugees, as people being displaced, of being stripped of Nationality and identity. Of living at the mercy of the UN that abandons them, of pinning their hopes on words they don't understand, of living in the dark, in the cold, in hunger with conjunctivitis. It speaks of the lives of the millions of people that bore the brunt of the war, of the millions of refugees, of the millions of people that got exiled and displaced. It speaks of the horrors of the Holocaust- by making Esther's father a memory, by the thundering noise of the motors that drive away the Italian soldiers, by describing the big white house towards the end, by describing the horrors that happened in the cellars under the big white building.

The book broke me down, it made me cry- for the  millions of survivors, for the millions who never lived through it- The book was too heavy for me, it made me stop and take a break before I braced myself for more reading. The tale is haunting, like the stories of O Henry, like the Last Leaf when the painter dies and there is nothing anyone can do, there is nothing one can do but think of that little leaf and a sad man who died painting it. An artist who becomes an artist in the end, someone who never lives to see his masterpiece. Or like the story of Saki- The Refugee- the blueness, the little bundle on one's back, the people starving and walking on with eyes that are haunted, of a bowl of noodles and the kindness of a stranger- and the inevitable death that the story talks about; it stays on in your mind long after you are done. Sometimes lines and descriptions, landscapes and emotions might come back to you uncalled for, it stays on in your mind to help you remember all that Man is capable of.

Monday, 7 November 2011


As my third semester of study at Stella is successfully completed, I am faced with doubts of my own. How much have I honestly learnt? How much of it is a "just-another-paper-attitude"? I realised that although I understood the theories that had been prescribed for study- I did not know what to make of them after the semester. I had understood what they were talking about, but how do I put them in perspective with my life, my background and my understanding? What are we really talking about?

I am now going back to study all that I had been told to- with diligence and some curiosity, with sensibility and patience. I am taking baby-steps to understand, re-learn and apply what I have been introduced to, to my reading and outlook. I want to understand what Women's Writing is all about- in practicality. I had seen it as a paper, as a text for study- now I am going to study it all again- with earnestness.

Good luck to me.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Sonnet - Billy Collins

All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here wile we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

The Thought-Fox

Ted Hughes

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.