Archive | January 2015

Ball and Chain

This discussion today just reminded me of a story I’d written some years ago. I kindof cringe at the whole story now, but it anyway I hope it is not as bad as this  book

Karthika took the thali up to her face and touched each eye with it. It was her way of showing reverence to the symbol of her marriage. To her husband.

It was her mother-in-law’s Puja, where every year a group of married women got together and prayed for their husband’s lives. They held out their thalis to be anointed with the sacred red kumkum. Praying that they would never have to remove their thalis until the day they die. It was a blessed boon to die as a still married woman.

Karthika was one confused woman. She was twenty eight, convent educated, had a master’s degree in computer engineering. She had traveled to three countries and worked with Americans and Europeans. But in her heart she was still the small town girl from Tamilnadu. It was an identity crisis she couldn’t cope with. She knew that the thali and the sentiments that her mother, mother-in-law and grandmother thrust on her was just a blind ancient tradition, fuelled further by endless Tamil movies.

Her husband’s life and future did not depend on the appendage hanging on the heavy rope shaped gold chain on her neck. Her brain told her that, but her small town heart said something else. Why anger the Gods? So she wore it and treated it with the expected amount of respect. Sometimes she wished that she could trade it for a lighter more delicate model. Like the black bead mangalsutras the North Indians wore. She had suggested it once, but her mother-in-law had been scandalized. This was her family’s pride and self respect that hung on her neck. Not something that could be compromised.

Her mother-in-law always made it a point to mention that they had given her a thali chain that weighed eleven sovereigns. Eighty eight grams. She conveniently never mentioned the hundred sovereigns of gold that Karthika’s father had decked his daughter in. Or even the ten odd sovereigns that were gifted to the groom, her husband Ram. Bracelets and chains that, thankfully, he never wore.

The moment the marriage broker had shown Ram’s profile to her father, he had decided that Ram should become his son- in- law. A post graduate, only son, no bad habits, earning over a lakh a month, own flat in Chennai. The works. Ram was every father’s dream for his daughter. Most importantly their horoscopes had matched perfectly.

What more could a retired railway employee ask for. He had immediately given his consent to the alliance and withdrawn his entire life’s savings from the Post Office deposits for the wedding expenses. It did not even occur to him to ask Karthika for her consent. But anyway, Karthika wouldn’t have dared to say no even if he had asked her.

She went through the lavish wedding as she was expected to and dutifully slipped into wedded life with no hiccups. All her jewellery had been put back into the safety locker immediately after the wedding. Only the eleven sovereign thali chain and two bangles remained on her. It was almost three years now, and she had forgotten what her jewellery looked like.

Over the first year of her marriage they had kept adding to her thali. The thali itself was typical to her community. A one inch long odd shaped piece of gold with two protruding peaks. Supposed to signify something divine, but she felt it looked more like a frog with protruding eyes. There were some gold beads added after three months, then some gold tubes. Then a couple of black beads. It kept getting heavier and heavier, weighing her down. But each addition increased her husband’s life. She accepted dutifully.

Even when she went to the US for three months she was not allowed to remove it. She wore it hidden deep inside shirts as she travelled to work every day. One daring moment in an office party she had unbuttoned an extra button on her shirt, hoping to expose a bit of cleavage like her American counterparts. But to her ill luck, it was the thali that popped out unexpectedly and was noticed rather than her breasts. She spent the rest of the evening showing it to admiring Americans who were fascinated by the whole concept of the thali, and more so by the concept of supposedly “For the Rest of your Life”. Something totally alien in a land of speed dating and speedier divorces.

The chain chaffed the skin at the back of her neck in the hot Chennai summers. The thali created a small black scar just below her breasts where it constantly rubbed against her sensitive skin. There were moments when she was tempted to remove it. But something deep inside her knew that she could never forgive herself if anything happened to Ram if she did remove it. Sometimes she wanted to pull it off and hurl it into the ocean, fantasizing at the thought of her thali creating a fault in the ocean floor and causing a tsunami centuries later, like the idol in the movie Dasavatharam.

Once she wondered what would happen if she got into a swimming pool wearing nothing but the chain. Maybe she would sink like a stone?

But otherwise, she silently wore it. Never complaining. Ball and chain around her neck. To be relieved only in death.

Ram himself had been a bitter disappointment. She had grown up on a good dose of Hindi and Tamil movies. She expected him to sweep her off her feet with small romances and surprises. She expected a honeymoon at least in Ooty if not in Switzerland. But instead they had gone on a temple tour. With his entire family in tow.

She sometimes wished he would sneak up behind her in the kitchen and squeeze her waist naughtily, knowing well that his mother was watching TV in the next room. She longed for jasmine flowers placed on the pillow some night, a subtle suggestion of what lay ahead. A suggestive email or SMS in the middle of work, surprise weekend beach trips and long walks on the golden sands.

But that was not Ram. He was a good husband. A great provider. A supportive man. He was well read and well traveled. But that was it. There were times when she even wondered whether he was normal. He had no friends, (and therefore no bad habits according to her father), no hobbies, nothing. He was a workaholic, which again was a good thing according to her father. He watched cricket matches, but only because he felt he had to keep track of statistics. He watched movies, but only because he could critically analyse the lighting andangles and find faults in the direction. He watched the news on every channel each night for an “In depth analysis”. He read almost every newspaper in circulation. That was all there was to him.

They had gone to the doctor some time ago since she had not conceived even after two years of marriage. The doctor did all the tests and had told them that nothing was wrong with both of them and they should keep trying. Karthika tried to make the situation lighter, “Sure Doctor,” she had said “At least the “trying” part is fun”.

The doctor had laughed heartily and agreed. But Ram sat there with his face set like stone, shocked at his wife’s words. Not something that a “Family girl” would say openly. He drove back home in a hurt silence, while Karthika looked out of the window trying hard not to giggle recollecting his stunned expression.

On the whole he was a bore. A good man, but a big bore.

He frustrated her with his timetables. He never had his breakfast before eight o’clock or after nine o’clock in the morning. Many Sundays when her in-laws were out of town, they had bitter arguments over breakfast served after ten. He woke up at five o’clock every morning to do his yoga while she stayed in bed enjoying the last lazy moments stretching luxuriously, fantasizing about the imaginary surprises in store for her that day.

He even had a fixed time for making love. No sex before ten pm was the unwritten rule.

It was like an imaginary lock he had installed on the bedroom door. Swipe in before ten pm, and the lock would beep loudly, red lights blinking wildly. Access denied.

And when the Love was actually Made, it was as process oriented as his projects. Done with perfect textbook precision, error free, time bound. Within the budget. She could sometimes even sense the status updates he kept giving himself every minute. Five minutes more to go for project delivery. Now four minutes. Three.

Actually, doctor, the trying is not fun

And then, three months ago her life had changed. Vinod had joined her project as a senior manager. He was a tall cheerful man, full of life. He had a great sense of humour and was a great conversationalist. He even joked about his divorce during lunch with the team once.

“I was George Bush and she was Bin Lady” he said with a booming laugh, “it was doomed from the beginning.”

He took everything with such ease that even deadlines became something to look forward to after his arrival. He made small jokes during status meetings and crazy faces during con-calls with foreign clients. The entire team loved him. But for Karthika, it was something much deeper. In Vinod she began to see all that she wanted to see in Ram. Her feelings did not go unnoticed.

Vinod too began to find himself drawn to her. There were a lot of unsaid words hanging in the glass walled conference rooms long after they had discussed the project status. There were a lot of unnecessary daily updates that they gave each other sitting across the table, gazing into each others eyes. She began to feel his presence even before she saw him enter the room. She sometimes felt a delicious shiver run through her body, only to look up and catch him staring at her with brimming desire from across the hall. The air around them kept getting thick with a fog of sexual energy, and she found herself getting drawn deeper and deeper, closer to him inside that fog.

It was the celebration of their project delivery that Friday. They had abandoned their workstations and taken off to a beach resort. While the rest of the team rejoiced in the liquor that had begun to flow by five pm and beach cricket, Karthika and Vinod sat on the sand, looking aimlessly into the horizon. The silence between them spoke everything they wanted to say to each other. His hand slowly crept across the sand and reached out to hers. She immediately sensed it and withdrew her hand even before their fingers touched.

Darkness slowly began to set it. Dinner was served. Everyone chattered animatedly over the banquet forgetting office pressures. Karthika and Vinod spoke to everyone else, but between themselves the only words that passed were through their eyes.

The team packed themselves into the four cars for their return trip. Karthika went straight and sat in Vinod’s car. She knew that Venkat would be driving past her house, so before he suggested that she get into his car she went into Vinod’s car and closed the door. Three others got into the back seat. Everyone had exhausted their words and it was music that filled the car on the way back. After they had dropped off the others, it was just the two of them in the car. The silence continued.

He stopped in front of a building. “This is where I live”, he said, breaking the silence at last. “Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?” It was ten pm. She could hear her heart beat bouncing off the car doors loudly.

Her heart cried out

“Yes”

She took a deep breath.

“No”. It came out as a whisper.

He didn’t say a word. He dropped her in front of her apartment and waited till she got inside, then drove away.

The next day she woke up with a terrible headache at 8 o’clock in the morning. Ram looked at her accusingly, when she gave him his coffee at 8.30. The neglected husband. He always had it at 7 am. His parents had already left for Tirupati early in the morning.

Karthika looked at the clock, and decided to finish breakfast before 9 to avoid another accusing stare.

She tried hard to blank out the events of the previous day as she made the dosas. She sang loudly with the radio and tried hard to concentrate on what the blabbering DJs were saying. But the same words kept echoing in her mind all the time.

 “Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?”

“No”.

The afternoon was hot and sultry. It looked like it was going to rain. Ram was sitting on the sofa reading the news paper like he was giving an exam on the news the next day. She went up and sat next to him. She picked up the remote and surfed through some random channels. The clouds outside were becoming dark and menacing. She stopped at a music channel. It was a hot song sequence. The heroine was dripping wet in a black saree, worn precariously low over her hips and seducing a reluctant hero.

Karthika pulled up her feet on the sofa, snuggled closer to Ram and looked up into his eyes. He lay down the news paper, looked at the TV screen. He said nothing, he just smiled. He took the remote from her hand and went back two channels. BBC News.

Access card swiped before ten pm. Access denied.

Of Course.

She got up in a huff, visibly upset and angry and went to the bedroom. Blindly she changed her clothes. She reached out for a light blue saree. Draped it carelessly, clipped her hair up  and grabbed her handbag.

“I’m going to the beauty parlour”, she said and rushed out of the door angrily. He said nothing; he got up to close the door. It was only after she got into the auto rickshaw and heard herself saying, “Anna Nagar” that she herself realized where she was headed.

It was not to the beauty parlour.

The auto rickshaw stopped in front of the now familiar building from the previous night. She picked up her phone and dialed.

“What is your apartment number?” she asked brusquely.

“C45”, he answered, confused.

She hung up before he could say anything else.

A few minutes later, she stood outside C45. There was no hesitation when she rang the doorbell. Vinod opened the door, a look of total surprise in his eyes. She pushed him and walked past into the living room with fierce determination.

“I have come for that cup of coffee you offered yesterday”

He stared at her for a moment and his face broke out into a grin. He looked like a happy schoolboy who had just been selected for the football team.

He turned and went into the kitchen.

She stared behind him, a bit confused, as he walked away.” Coffee? Really?” she thought to herself.

She looked around and entered his bedroom. She stood in front of the mirror.

She removed the barrette and let her hair fall to her shoulders, and ran her fingers through her silky tresses. She turned around and studied herself.

”Not too bad” she thought.

That moment, he entered with two cups of coffee. He placed the cups on the dressing table and looked at her. Without a word, he opened his arms. Happily, she rushed in, leaving the coffee to grow cold.

He kissed her hungrily, wetting her face like an eager puppy. His hands moved all over her body, not knowing where to begin. He gently laid her on the bed and lay down beside her. She sank into the pillow, trying to bypass all the thoughts that came rushing into her mind at full speed, all at once, competing for priority.

He removed her saree pallu, fumbling with the pin, poking into her shoulder as he removed it. He looked at her breasts in the light blue blouse and he buried his face between them. She had never felt this sort of a heady feeling in her life before. She sank deeper and deeper into the moment, eagerly awaiting the ecstasy to follow. She felt a sudden throbbing. She remembered the woman from the porn movie she had once watched secretly. She transformed herself into the porn star. She grabbed his head with a savage energy, running her fingers through his hair, pushing him deeper into her chest. Suddenly the throbbing became more urgent; she wanted his wet kisses there. With the same savage force, she pushed his head downwards.

The next moment she was thrown forward and he screamed with pain.

There is no other way to recreate the last few seconds except through an action replay.

In slow motion.

Rewind…….. naip hitw demaercs eh……….

He was enjoying her at his own pace, panting heavily, dribbling all over her, when the porn star took over. As she grabbed his head and pushed it downwards, his open mouth had gotten caught on her thali. Caught between the savage monster pushing him downwards and the eighty odd grams of gold rope pulling him upwards, his upper lip got fish hooked in the gold appendages that hung between her breasts and tore, dripping blood all over the blue chiffon pallu spread across the bed like a fan.

She stood up in horror and instinctively grabbed her thali, rubbing the back of her neck where the impact had grazed her. There was a bright red glob of blood on the very peaks where auspicious kumkum of the same colour had adorned it the previous week. She grabbed her pallu and wiped it off quickly.

She stared for a moment at the figure in front of her, hair disheveled standing up like two horns on either side of his head, bare chested  blue jeans unzipped, holding the bloodied bed sheet to his bleeding lip, face distorted in pain.

What began as a small giggle slowly evolved into a loud hysterical laughter as she ran out of the bedroom, out into the hallway, into the street. Into the pouring rain.

It was only when she sat down in an auto rickshaw, still laughing, that she realized that there were tears running down her cheeks.

Whether they were tears of laughter, tears of sorrow, tears of relief or tears of realization. She couldn’t tell.

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Go Ask Alice- Anonymous Beatrice Sparks : 6/52 ( High School)

There’s so much worse now that things have gotten better.

I’m not an American teenager nor am I a parent of one. And this is not the seventies. So I’m not moved by this. And there seems to be a lot of cynicism about the whole ‘true story’ part of it. I just picked it up to meet my ‘Book set in high school’ part of my 2015 reading challenge.

Anne Frank wrote a diary that made the whole world cry. Bridgette Jones wrote a diary that made 30 something women feel hopeful. This unnamed teenager wrote this diary that was supposed to shock the hell out of you and make the world stay away from drugs. I hope it did have some kind of effect back then and saved atleast a handful of teenagers from the addiction.

She’s just another fifteen year old schoolgirl with all the problems of a fifteen year old schoolgirl. An imagined weight problem, a crush who doesn’t reciprocate, nagging parents, irritating younger siblings. The works. And then one day at a party, someone slips her a drug laced drink. And the downward spiral begins. There’s drugs, sex, more drugs, rape, and more drugs. She runs away from home and lives the most disgusting life that a fifteen year old could ever live. But then she also starts a mildly successful business which sounded very filmy impossible. And then she reforms, gets pushed again, runs away again, does disgusting things again,  reforms again and is pushed again . And this time, she reaches breaking point. That part was disturbing, the one in the rehab center where she meets fellow teenage drug addicts.

Since it was supposed to be a ‘true story’ from an actual diary, it was written exactly how a fifteen year old high school dropout would write: Very badly.

The drug menace even today is real. And more dangerous. But I don’t think society is as ‘free’ as it was in the seventies when this book was written. So I’ll give it the benefit of the era, and let it go.

 

 

 

 

The Colour Purple- Alice Walker : 5/52 (Colour)

Such a feel good book.

Whaat? Yes. To me, it was a feel good book. Because, read it to know why.

Celie. Young, traumatized, lost, helpless Celie writes letters to god because she has no one else to write to. She tells god about how she got big after her Pa visited her at night. She tells god about the babies she gave birth to, the babies that disappeared, the baby she saw again with the pastor’s wife. About how she was made to marry Mister___ just to look after him and his horrid kids because her father refused to let her younger and prettier sister Nettie marry him. Through these letters,she tells god the story of her life. She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t ask him for anything. She just tells him.

Her closest relative is her sister Nettie who suddenly leaves her life, and then Shug enters. Shug, her husband Mister____’s mistress. Shug who had children with Mister_____.But again, Celie just takes it in as what was meant to be. She nurses Shug back to health and the two women form a bond that is so tender, so beautiful and oh so disturbingly twisted. All the relationships in the book are so strong and beautiful. Celie and Sophia, two women at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While Celie submits to fate, Sophia punches fate in the nose, be it her husband Harpo or his new girlfriend Squeak or the mayor’s wife. The women and men are so different, but so much the same. They love, they live, they laugh, they bond. And inspite of everything, they stay together as one big happy family. There are round houses, there are pink houses and there are pretty pants. Yes, it is a happy book because not once did I lose hope. There was always something that kept telling me that things will change for everyone, and it did. Maybe it was the way Celie looked at life with no expectations. Such and attitude shames god and he feels guilty and so, he gives.

I usually don’t highlight much, but in this book, I highlighted almost an entire chapter. The one where Shug and Celie talk about god. It was such a stimulating discussion and it gave me an answer that no one has been able to give me all these years. That is god to me.

The book moves to Africa and gives you a glimpse of life in an African village through the eyes of a black American woman. Something quite the opposite of Americanah. Much of that reminded me of Things Fall Apart. How the white man makes inroads into the continent in the name of civilizing the heathen natives, bringing progress and development and taking away the little bit of life that they have.

There’s graphic sex and violence, there’s deep racism, there’s capitalism, there’s chauvinism, there’s a wide gender divide. But it also overcomes. Everything.

I really don’t understand why this book was so controversial. Maybe those who outraged about it didn’t read it till the very end.

One Part Woman- Perumal Murugan : 4/52 (Translation)

tl;dr : Vyasa- Ambika-Ambalika.

What better way to make a book popular than to demand a ban on it. This isn’t a book that I would have picked up if it hadn’t been for the whole controversy around it. I’m not sure whether I got the sanitised version or the original ‘scandalous’ version of the book. I would have loved to read it in Tamil, but it would have taken me much longer to finish the book and my curiosity got the better of me. But the translation is quite good. And since those of us from Tamilnadu can relate to the overall setup, it worked for me. (Note to self: Stop picturing every book you read as a movie these days)

Kali and Ponnayi are a childless couple living in a society where the taunts, insults and innuendos are free flowing. Help and advice come in many forms to them, some well intentioned, some plain sadistic. Ponna is made to drink bitter infusions made with neem leaves that are handed to her by an ‘auspicious’ widow. (Isn’t neem a contraceptive?) She has men making not-so-subtle suggestions offering their services. She does a Fear Factor level walk on a dangerous rock near a temple to bribe the gods. She is deemed unfit for motherhood because she found the stink of a baby’s feces repulsive. Surprisingly, she isn’t the only one to be ‘blamed’ here. Though Kali is constantly under the pressure to take a second wife, he is also equally taunted for his ‘impotence’. He has everyone from cousins to random neighbours hoping to dip their fingers into his heirless property after his death. More than his love for Ponna, it is the fear of confirming this impotence that doesn’t allow him to marry again. Afterall, it was his ancestors who raped a tribal girl and incurred her curse. Yes. It is a difficult life being childless in such a society in that era. Any society in any era actually.

So what does one do when the gods want more than rooster blood and arrack? What does one do when the gods want more than a dangerous walk around their temple? What does one do when the gods want more than your prayers? You have to look beyond god. You have to look at man. Another man. Do it with him thinking of him as god. Kunti did that, Madri did that. Oh wait. That was vice versa. But anyway. Apparently, the results are guaranteed here. And this is what Ponna’s mother and mother-in-law finally suggest.

Does she do it? On the fourteenth day of the temple festival, that day when all married women above thirty get the sanction of the gods to lay with random strangers and bring forth ‘god’s children’ into the world. Does she do it? Does she manage to look beyond the face of her husband, look beyond her fears, look beyond society’s taunts and find a god to do it with?

Since I was waiting for the ‘controversial’ part, I did not take the time to savour the book as much I should have. The narration went back and forth a lot, sometimes confusing. Characters like the bachelor uncle Nallupayyan who gave the whole drama the much needed sane voice and Muthu, Ponna’s brother, who took Kali to the same temple festival years ago to ‘offer their services’ give you an insight into the hypocrisy of it all. Small but sharp references to the caste equations in that society add a dash of sting. During the build up to the climax, when Ponna sits in the cart looking at the Chakkli man’s baby with so much longing, I hoped that the story would take a more ‘scandalous’ twist. But I was disappointed.

A good book. Not a great book, and in my opinion it was not a shocking book.  But a good book, so read it. If not for anything else, atleast  for the sake of supporting freedom of expression. Because is a thing these days.

‘Whenever I pass a temple, I touch my throat and then touch my lips with my index and middle finger. That is how my two babies were born’ I just remembered someone tweeting that long ago.

And whenever a topic about childlessness comes up, I can’t help but remember We Need to Talk About Kevin. Unrelated to this book, but the thought just crossed my mind.

There are two sequels to this book. Would love to read them soon. Someone please translate.

 

 

 

The Feast of Roses- Indu Sundaresan : 3/52 ( A Trilogy)

And the soap continues…

Actually, this book ran in my head as a Rajnikanth movie. Rajni is Prince Khurram and Mehrunissa is the classic arrogant female antagonist who stands up against him. And in the end, Khurram wins the story and mouths a punch dialogue ‘Adhigama aasai padra pombalai nalla irundhadha sarithram illai’ and rides away into the sunset on a white horse, with Arjumand clinging onto him. But Mehrunissa has the last laugh anyway. Read the book to know why.

The romantic Mehrunissa from The Twentieth Wife becomes the power hungry Empress of Hindustan in this book. She has Jahangir under her thumb and is the Sonia to Jahangir’s MMS now. She rules the empire from behind the veil. I’m not sure if I should like such a woman though. I liked her competitiveness at first, the way she was determined to become an expert hunter after that failed hunting trip where she lost to Jagat Gosni in shooting a drugged lion ( ugh. *that* was how those people hunted? What bravery ) I even liked that junta she formed, clever woman. And the way she got her way with the Portugese and sided with the English too. But when she pimped her daughter out to marry Khurram, Khusrau and finally Sharyar, she crashed from that pedestal I had put her on. Woman, is power that important to you? Ok. Maybe such relationships were allowed in that era, but your daughter marrying your husband’s son , the one who is the husband of your own niece? Ewwww. I felt sorry for Ladli, such a gentle thing , resigned to her fate. Who in the end just wants her baby to be a girl so that it will not be involved in the ugly game to the throne. And when Mehrunissa expressed such resentment when the baby turned out to be a girl, a fresh wave of anger swept over me. I hated her a little more.

Two scenes in the book that were so big budget that I would love to see them on the big screen. The live chess scene with baby elephants where she checkmates a nervous Mahabat Khan had so much attitude. Whatte woman, I thought. And the Feast of Roses scene where she walks on a bed of rose petals and allows Jahangir to forgive her ( apologise). That reminded me so much of a certain politician who had the roads paved with flower petals when she visited the Nilgiris in 1993, bringing traffic to a halt. I saw the same ego, arrogance and god complex in Mehrunissa in that scene.

The book got a little draggy when the Portugese and English came in. It took away the beauty of the Mughal empire and became dry and political. (Would history have been different if Nur Jahan hadn’t supported the English like she did?) Same with the wars, I rushed through those parts. But it got back on track again with the unintended coup and the final chase to the throne. Survival of the fittest. Who would have thunk that the romantic Shah Jahan could execute his competitors in such cold blood. But hey, all’s fair in love and war.

I’ll give it a short break before I start the third book, The Shadow Princess. I don’t want to OD. But I’m ready for a Darlymple again now. Mughal history has me hooked.

Pygmalion- George Bernard Shaw :2/52 (A Play)

Hear yourself read

It took me back to school where we had the Interhouse Dramatics every year. The winning play used to get staged for Parents Day. Ofcourse I never got to act in one. It was one of those things that were dominated by the boarders and maybe a few Anglo Indian dayscholars. But this weekend, I got to ‘act’ in a play. I was both Henry Higgins and Eliza Dolittle.

It is difficult to read a play without doing the voices. Having watched My Fair Lady, I think I did a great Eliza in my head. But other than the bad grammar, the Garns and the Aaa woo oo oh sound, there wasn’t much of an accent. No Rain in Spain or Just you wait ‘Enry ‘Iggins. Still, it was a delightful read. Henry Higgins’ unapologetic rudeness was shocking and totally unacceptable, but it was so much fun. I was supposed to get angry at the way he treated the poor girl, calling her names, talking about her like a used gumboot at times, but I just couldn’t. I wanted more insults, innocent insults that as rude as the were, weren’t intended to hurt. And Mrs. Pearce getting worked up about his ‘swearing’ was adorable. Asking him not to use a swear word that begins with the letter B was bloody hilarious. I imagined a modern day adaptation where Professor Higgins uses the F word and Mrs Pearce dies of shock.

I’m not sure what I feel about the ending. The ending of the actual play, I liked. It ended on a hopeful note and the reader/ viewer gets to decide whatever they want. The ending of the movie, I loved. It was what we all wanted. But the afterword in the book where the reader is given the what-happened-next story was a downer. Like those modern day after- everafter endings of fairy tales where Cinderella and the Prince get married and then divorced.

But I’m glad I read this book. It was part of my 2015 Reading Challenge where I have a play on the list. I should read this again sometime. And this time, I’ll do the voices out loud.

2015 Reading Challenge

Ok. So let’s see how this works out. @iashcn shared this challenge on Twitter and I found it on Goodreads too. I managed my 2014 challenge comfortably, but this seems a little more difficult because I’m listing specific books here.  But no pressure. This is just a list. Of placeholders.

1.   Book with 500+ pages- Wolf Hall. It needs to be removed from On Hold and be done with.
2.  Classic romance – Pride and Prejudice. Yeah. The real thing.
3.  Book that became a movie – Twelve Years a Slave. Caught the movie. Now I have to read the        book.
4.  Book published this year (2015) – I’m waiting for Arundhati Roy’s next. Hope it comes out in              2015
5.  Book with a number in the title – Ok. I’m doing the 3 Mistakes of my Life. High time.
6.  Book written by someone under 30 – Nowadays, aren’t they all?
7.  Book with nonhuman characters- Maybe Animal Farm again. No. Then what else? Hmmm?
8.  Funny book- I don’t get those H2G2 references that are considered so mainstream cool. I                   hope the book also gives me some laughs.
9.  Book by female author- Huh? Why? What’s so what about that? : The Dove’s Lament-Kirthi Jayakumar
10. Mystery or thriller- Two more in the Dublin Murder Squad series to go. Oh wait. There was         one more published last year.
11. Book with one-word title – Out. Been on my list for too long
12. Book of short stories – The Book of Other People. I’ve read that first story four times                     already.
13. Book set in a different country – In an Antique Land. Because just like that.
14. Nonfiction – Rajdeep’s Book. 2014 – The Election that Changed India. Been trolling the             guy too much on Twitter. I owe him this.
15. Popular author’s first book- Can’t think of any. Thinking. Thinking…
16. Book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet- Why is this so difficult to list?
17. Book a friend recommended –The Fountainhead. Let me see what makes Roark so loveable  Coraline- Neil Gaiman 
18. Pulitzer Prize-winning book –The Poisonwood Bible. Heard good things about it
19. Book based on true story- Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Been on my to read           list for very long. Maybe the Japanese will get some sympathy from me again.
20.Book at bottom of your to-read list –Ponniyn Selvan. Got a Kindle compatible version. 21.               Hopefully, the bigger font will help me finish it
21. Book your mom loves – Can’t promise Ponniyin Selvan. So I’ll settle for The Old Man and the       Sea. 
22. Book that scares you – Should dare to pick up The Shining again. Or Salem’s Lot.
23. Book more than 100 years old- Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Really really need to finish it. My            tribute to Anastasia Steele
24. Book based on its cover- What is that proverb again?
25. Book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t – Lorna Doone. Someone drew a heart            and wrote Lorna Doone loves John Ridd in the school library book. The entire 9th standard                class was banned from the library that year and I never got to reading the book after that.
26. A memoir – I don’t like memoirs. So something. Anything.   Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II
27. Book you can finish in a day – Andaleeb’s next two. Back in Time and Only Time will Tell. Salvation of a Saint-Keigo Higashino
28. Book with antonyms in the title – Err… Let me think.
29. Book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – The Orphan Master’s Son. Maybe                    someday we’ll get a client in Kim Jong Land and I’ll get a chance to visit.
30. Book that came out the year you were born-  I’ll do something from the era. Nice try.
31. Book with bad reviews – Could do Half Girlfriend, but one C-book a year is my target.
32. A trilogy – The Taj Trilogy. On it, loving it.
33. Book from your childhood – Malory Towers. I have a few, will be nice to go to boarding                    school.
34. Book with a love triangle –  Should pick one at random. Maybe something where all three will            finally end up with three different persons.
35. Book set in the future – The Road. Reddit loves it. Let me see if I love it too.
36. Book set in high school- The Fault in our Stars or Twilight. (Are they set in high school?) Go Ask Alice
37. Book with color in the title – The Color Purple
38. Book that made you cry – That’s a toughie. Because I’m not sure if I’m capable of that anymore.
39. Book with magic- Err.. Harry Potter? Well, gotto deal with it sometime in my life
40. Graphic novel – Ugh. But why not.
41. Book by an author you’ve never read before – Amit Chaudhri. Though A Strange and Sublime             Address was highly recommended, I’ll read Freedom Song because I have it
42. Book you own but have never read – Plenty. I should do an inkypinkyponky and pick one.
43. Book that takes place in your hometown – Must get my hands on that Coonoor book. Or get                 down to writing my own.  Maybe not hometown, but place where I’ve lived. Fair enough. Aarushi by Avirook Sen
44. Book that was originally written in different language- Long time no Murakami. I’ll pick a                    random one. After Dark maybe. Lots of backlog to clear before I try his latest ( Checking off this item with One Part Woman)
45. Book set during Christmas –The Gift. But if it is something like PS I Love You, I’ll probably                hate it.
46. Book written by an author with your same initials- Gaaah. This is boring.
47. A play – I could dig out Julius Caesar from my schoolbook pile and read it again. That is the only        play I have ever read. But since I know My Fair Lady, I’ll try Pygmalion
48. A banned book – Will reattempt The Satanic Verses. Again.
49. Book based on or turned into a TV show – That Game of Thrones thingy? Wait. Maybe that’s too        ambitious. I think I’ll settle for Roots. Done with two GoT books. Huge. 
50. Book you started but never finished
 -That’s Atlas Shrugged. I’m doing it this year. I am I am I       am.