Posted in Artists

On Courage, Dreams and Being an Artist | Arundhati Roy

To love. To be loved.
To never forget your own insignifance. 
To never get used to the unspeakable violence
and the vulgar disparity of life around you. 
To seek joy in the saddest of places. 
To pursue beauty in its lair.
To never simplify what is complicated 
or complicate what is simple. 
To respect strength, never power.
Above all, to try and understand.
To never look away.
And never, never to forget…
another world is not only possible,
she is on her way.
On a quiet day, 
I can hear her breathing. 

~Arundhati Roy~

Ever since I recognise being able to write words, I have had a diary. Not like a daily journal, but a special diary where I would note down important words. Words that inspired me, made me smile, or laugh or even cry. Words that came to me through stories or songs or someone’s lectures or moral lessons at school. I always made a note of them in a shabbily decorated diary. Shabbily because although my intentions to decorate would be grand, my skills would not match up. Nevertheless, I sufficed my dissatisfaction with keeping the words pure and beautiful. Only those that moved me with their love, of any form, could make it into the diary.

I would like to extend that diary to my online journal here. A Blog, whatelse is it but a web based log of anything and everything. To keep a log of things, of daily activities, of daily thoughts and to be able to share them on the web – that is a blog, right?

So I have decided to write weekly twice here and I hope to condense the confusing clouds of thoughts of the week into words worth reading and worth keeping a log of. This week’s are borrowed from a widely acknowledged and yet controversial author of my country, Arundhati Roy. I read her work of fiction The God of Small Things only a few months back and fell head over heels in love with the work of art. I even chose to write my Critical Writing sample for the MFA applications on this book and its craft of writing.

The book seemed to me to be having multiple layers, at the first reading. And in the second reading I was absolutely sure I was not to find all the layers of this piece of art for a long time to come. Religious, spiritual, interpretive, literary, feminist, post-modern, post-colonialism, casteism, capitalism, nationalism, die hard romance, mythical, individual vs society, marriage-family drama, are just a few to be named. It is an experience of life in itself, so complex when it has to be complex, and so very simple when it is simple. A beautiful work of fiction that I aspire and revere by all means.

There is a thing called religious reading of popular literature, one of the best examples of which is the project titled Harry Potter Sacred Text. As part of such reading, the readers are exposed to the various methods of reading a religious wherein we mainly look to preach lessons out of the stories we read in the texts. We all have done such a reading of a text we love, stories or songs or essays even. We read and re-read them without realising what is it that attracts us so much about them. Then one fine day, the moment of epiphany occurs when we are able to reflect our lives in our beloved stories. We become characters we love and before we know it we are already drawing parallels between their lives and our own. We are rejoicing in their victories and despairing quietly at night at their losses. We are slowly becoming one with the story and simultaneously with the creator of the story.

And this is when the writer is tested for their capability to share a Way of Seeing. Once we are so deeply involved into the act of reflecting our own lives into the story, we are now looking for finding a solution to the problems of our own lives. We are going to sub-consciously act according to the heroes of these stories, in our real life. There is no guarantee, but there is a most definite possibility which is what makes the starving, that the writer bears in order to write a story, worth every trouble taken. Psychology calls this the work of Mirror Neurons in our brains that reflect and mirror things before it, whether in the form of a story, a dance, a music piece or any other art work. They give us capabilities to immerse ourselves into the world of the creator and enjoy it for the while we are entranced. And hopefully to come out with a pearl of wisdom. Simply put, we walk around in the shoes of the creator as the art piece was conceived by them. And the purer the art, the more beautiful the experience of conceiving it, difficult but beautiful.

Despite having an auto-biographical feel to it, the book The God of Small Things is but a work of fiction. This week I discovered these words from Arundhati Roy, and I felt like I was close to realising what it was to walk in the shoes of this great artist, this storyteller, this Wild Woman. Despite the incredible pessimism in her works about the current state of the society and its hypocrisy, these words brought me to the incessant hope that sits at the center of her heart. She may criticise the world and its ways for all of its unspeakable violence and disparity, but she never forgets to dream of another world, where everything is better and beautiful.

It is what probably gives her hope and strength every night to have the courage to see dreams for the future and every morning to get up and have the courage to work hard for those dreams. The God of Small Things was her dream once and it has changed my life. Her courage to fulfil her dream of writing a story about love and loss, gave my Mirror Neurons one of the most important exercises to do. Across time and space, her words made my life a little bit better.

She inspires me to fulfil my own dreams so I can be to someone what she has been to me. Even if I can be that to one person, I would be so grateful. She touched millions of hearts, the book sold about 6 million copies. But then the God of her story, The God of Small Things, resides in things small as well as big. And I will certainly be grateful to create art and suffer for it, if only I can be what she has been to me, to even a single soul.


Join me on my journey through life, learning to live with lessons learnt along the way, in stories, in art and in labours of love. I post in new stories every Monday and Thursday.

(Cover art by the stoned storyteller, on the dorm room wall. :P)

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