Private Peaceful: Remembrances Are Real

There’s a sliver of a moon out there, a new moon. I wonder if they’re looking at it back home. Bertha used to howl at the moon, I remember. If I had a coin in my pocket, I’d turn it over and make a wish. When I was young I really believed in all those old tales. I wish I still could believe in them. But I mustn’t think like that. It’s no good wishing for the moon, no good wishing for the impossible. Don’t wish, Tommo. Remember. Remembrances are real.

Capture213Thomas Peaceful (Tommo) — a teenager from an English village — replays his entire life in his head, and uses his memories to stop him from falling asleep. He has eight hours to relish the special moments, recall the painful ones with courage and regret. Charlie Peaceful — his elder brother, his best friend — is going to be shot at 6 AM the next day, for he is pronounced guilty of insubordination and cowardice. The brothers are in the front line, fighting for England in the First World War.

Michael Morpurgo smothers me with a secret as Private Peaceful begins. The Peaceful brothers’s father dies because of Tommo’s carelessness. (Please do not worry. It is not a spoiler.) The little boy grows up with an inexplicable heaviness in his chest, as his family suffers after their father’s untimely demise. He torments himself with the question — if his father didn’t die because of him… the Peaceful family would have been financially comfortable, his mother would not have to work in the ruthless colonel’s house, and they would have always had a place to stay. The secret is too heavy for a five-year-old boy. But I also wonder if a five-year-old boy would feel guilt quite sharply as Tommo.

Their childhood is filled with warm, indelible memories. And both the brothers fall in love with Molly – their schoolmate and their neighbour. Will their love for the same girl cause a crevice between the brothers? Will their friendship be jeopardised by a feeling of inadequacy and jealousy? As Tommo wrestles with the questions, the brothers join the army.

Tommo narrates the story, carefully presenting all sides of Charlie, who many a time appears to be a hero. Charlie is taller and stronger than Tommo. He rescues a hound from her cruel human; he loses his job for saving the dog. He is everything that Tommo wants to be. When the brothers fight in the frontline, and when Tommo is paralysed by the sounds and sights of the war, Charlie is always there to prop him up. Always.

Why does everything go wrong in the brothers’s life? They are perennially mired in problems because of their love for their ‘special’ brother Big Joe is unconditional. Their love for animals is inspiring. (Of course, the characters love animals because the book is written by Michael Morpurgo, who is an ardent animal lover. I loved his War Horse and The Butterfly Lion.) Their love for their family can make them sacrifice everything they love. Even one’s own life.

The brothers often wonder why they are in the war, for they don’t know their enemy. In a striking scene, when a German is caught, Tommo looks at the prisoner and wonders that there is no difference between themselves and their enemies, except their uniform’s colour. The fighting becomes harder for the brothers as they don’t recognise the cause.

Michael Morpurgo, with his prose that is light yet poetic as ever, shows the darkness of the war, the mesmerising beauty of the English villages, and the burning love that is fanned by the Peaceful family.

After Sergeant Hanley and the field punishment, and the way Charlie managed to smile through it all, there isn’t a man in the company who doesn’t look up to him. Being his real brother I could feel I live in his shadow, but I never have and I do not now. I live in his glow.

The book’s postscript mentions that 290 soldiers of the British and Commonwealth armies, who fought in the First World War, were executed for desertion and cowardice, and two for simply sleeping at their posts. In November 2006, the injustice suffered by the soldiers were recognised, and a conditional pardon was granted.

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My August in Books

Capture456I am still hunting for a job; it’s been a couple of months since I started my staycation — I used the word staycation because I am trying to be positive and the word unemployed dampens my spirit sometimes — I have been reading a lot. From the number of books I read in July and August, I am often asked if I do anything besides reading. I really do. 🙂 I work out everyday. I ride my bicycle or do HIIT. I doodle. I stalk folks on social media. I read every news item. I write on my journal. I pray. I watch movies with AK. I have my evening tea with mum, and we trade stories like old times. Although I slip through the crack, replay the cruel memories in my head, doubt my decision, and wallow in self-pity often, I have been making conscious efforts to make myself happy. And I think that’s okay. 🙂

My August was exciting. I read some lovely comics and graphic novels, and some terrifying and delightful fiction.

Here is the list:

Graphic Novels:
1. Ink in Water: How I kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Embraced Body Positivity by Lacy J Davis and Jim Kettner (technically a non-fiction) — This feminist memoir is an honest account on how so many of us feel trapped in our bodies, how we succumb to the dark voices in our head, and how we miss the good part of our lives, lest we become someone who doesn’t meet the beauty standards established by the society.
2. Generations by Flavia Biondi — It is an unassuming, touching story of a young man moving back with his family after breaking-up with his boyfriend, after antagonising his father, and after failing to make anything for him. When everything fails, the family props him up, and the sojourn with his family helps him to re-establish the bond with his father, and helps him to unload his emotional baggage and build a bridge to himself.

Philosophy:
3. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Children’s Fiction:
4. My Wounded Island by Jacques Pasquet, Marian Arbona, and Sophie Watson — Imarvaluk — what a beautiful name — is forced to leave her island because of the terrible effects of global warming. The coast, where she made beautiful memories with her grandfather, is now being swallowed by rising water levels. So, she moves further into the land — their summer land — to rebuild their lives. My Wounded Island is an excellent book to initiate a dialogue with children on global warming and how many lives are displaced across the world. As an adult, I found the beginning poetic, especially the paragraph on the narrator’s name, and expected the story to unfold in that fashion. Although it didn’t, I am still satisfied.

Comics:
5. Lady Stuff: Secrets to Being a Woman by Loryn Brantz
6. If My Dogs Were a Pair of Middle-Aged Men by Matthew Inman
7. Lies We Tell Our Kids by Steve Hoover and Brett Wagner — The book is a super quick collection of hilarious lies that parents tell their children. They are so irreverent that I would love if somebody lied to me this way. These are adorable lies. Just the kind of lies which would make children-who-live-in-adult-bodies loosen up, and have a good laugh.
8. Quiet Girl in A Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung — I have been following Tung’s Facebook page for a while, and her comic strips evoke a strong feeling of deja vu. Her book is a quiet reflection on her struggles as an introvert, and her quieter ways to overcome it all. Overcoming doesn’t mean that she succumbs to societal pressures. Instead, she finds her own sacred spot where she can be herself, and stops trying to be what she is not. This is quietly inspiring, for the world presses on the phantom need to stay connected.
9. How To Be Perfectly Unhappy by Matthew Inman

Non-Fiction:
10. Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel
11. Breaking Up is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better by Hilary Campbell — Are they not tragedies anymore if I laugh about it? They don’t feel awful. Truly. At least, while reading this book. Some of the stories are funny by themselves. Some are funny because of Hilary’s illustration. Some are funny because they are too strange to believe. But some are sad and at such junctures, Hilary’s illustrations are warm. If someone is dumped for the silliest reason, present this book. It will go well with the healing process.
12. EB White on Dogs by EB White
13. How to Meditate by Pema Chodron
14. War Journey: Diary of A Tamil Tiger by Malaravan

Fiction:
15. Out by Natsuo Kirino
16. The Liberation of Sita by Volga
17. Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro
18. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
19. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
20. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
21. Gypsy Masala by Preethi Nair

Poetry:
22. Darling, I Love You: Poems From The Hearts of Our Glorious Mutts and All Our Animal Friends by Daniel Ladinsky and Patrick McDonnell
23. Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku From A Very Serious Dog by Samm Hodges, Phinheas Hodges, and Idli Gozde — Martin is a regular dog. He hates dog-food, loathes cats, and loves his walks in the park. Martin is also an extraordinary dog. He writes haiku when he is contemplative. And most importantly, he writes serious haiku — his solemn lament on sterilisation and losing a family that could have been, his separation anxiety and how he seeks solace in stars, his delight in Netflixing and farting under his human’s duvet, his duty to protect his human from potential dates, and his silent, profound thoughts on growing old. Martin is just seven years old. But he is too wise for the number of bums he would have sniffed. If you love dogs and ‘serious haiku’ written by a dog, ‘Downward Dog: Serious Haiku From A Very Serious Dog’ is for you.
24. The Chaos of Longing by KY Robinson

How was your August? What was your favourite book? 🙂 I hope your September would be kinder. ❤

War Journey: Diary Of A Tamil Tiger

17972631When the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) fought the Sri Lankan Army, and when I read reports on their victories and losses, they only seemed like yet another news item. I must admit. Their battle, their losses, their stories seemed distant, for I was reading about them from the comfort of my home, while sipping a cup of hot coffee. But when Malaravan — a young, intelligent, fierce LTTE member — wrote a diary about his life as an LTTE member, he was sure to exorcise the indifference and ignorance in people like me. He wanted to make the reader a fly on the wall, a comrade who travelled with him despite hunger and fatigue and depression, and a warrior whose ‘body was for the land and soul for Tamil’. So, the journey of the reader — needless to mention — was excruciating.

The translator N Malathy — a member of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora — was volunteering in Sri Lanka when she stumbled upon Malaravan’s book Por Ulaa in a library. She was instantly moved, and began her research on the young writer and all the places where he fought. Thus War Journey: Diary of A Tamil Tiger emerged.

Malaravan’s diary dated between 9-November-1990 and 27-November 1990. He was 18 then. LTTE was advancing toward a place called Maankulam, where they later won the battle. He might have written more entries, but he was killed by an artillery in 1992. He was 20.

In her afterword, Malaravan’s mother noted that he was an avid reader. I felt a stab of pain in my heart, when Malaravan himself mentioned in his diary that he travelled with a bag of books, and some basic stationery. This boy was in a war. He was dodging bullets every day. In spite of losing his friends, in spite of swimming in a pool of blood every day, he wrote. It was not just because of his love for reading and writing, but also because he was determined to educate the next generation about their love for their motherland.

Oh, my dearest little brothers and sisters, where are you all? We know that the enemy does not like your young feet stepping into schools. He doesn’t want to see you carrying books. The enemy is bent on destroying the backbone of the Tamil community: their education. I know you will be huddled somewhere in a little hut or a building to avoid the rain. But you will be drenched because the huts have only palm-leaf roofs which are thoroughly decayed. You will not be eating lunch. Your little stomachs will ache due to hunger. Come here again in a few days. Wash your tiny feet in these water tanks. I will come like a big wave looking for you. I will put your feet in this school. I will cushion your tiny feet from the earth. I will embrace you like a breeze while you are studying.

He was poetic. He just didn’t write about the greatness of other comrades and their organisation, but he mentioned how the moon was yellow when they fought, how the birds kept singing, how the wind was gentle, and how his pain was alleviated by the sound of the flowing river. The boy made me guilty for not being mindful. If he could observe his environment in a war-zone, and still romance the nature, what could possibly discourage me?

In those few days, in their dangerous travel, Malaravan and his team were fed by the civilians. When they were not building their fortifications or cleaning their weapons, Malaravan sat with the people and listened to their stories, which were equally harrowing. The Tamil Eelam people had their homes and hearts opened for LTTE because their losses could never be compensated, and loved the LTTE members for fighting on their behalf.

Malaravan observed that women began participating in the battle, thrashing patriarchy. He wondered if more children could join them too. That thought made me shudder. It is imperative for the children to know the history of their motherland, but I couldn’t envisage them handling weapons and witnessing mutilated corpses.

A large group of pooralis were sitting in rows. They were firmly holding various types of weapons in their hands. Their faces were bright, intent and full of conviction. On one side stood female pooralis. They were the burning lights rising from a male-dominated society. They represented the historic steps into the future.

I am an animal-lover. So, my heart bled when I read Malaravan’s entries on animals who were killed in the battle. Malaravan, who was fond of animals, paid homage to them in his diary. I heart the boy more.

Salam opened the door. God! A dog killed by a shell was rotting. I was barely able to bear the smell, but I forced myself to take a peek. Once this brown dog with thick hair around its neck would have been the beloved pet of a family, and a dear friend to its children. It would have walked with the mother of the family as she went to the fields carrying food. It might have walked the children to and from school. Now it was lying dead with a bloated stomach. I pulled my head back from the door and slammed it shut.

It’s hard to read the book in a cafe, or while listening to music, and it’s harder to take a break from it to check social media. It feels almost blasphemous to do anything else because the boy’s voice is loud and full of steadfast opinions, and he holds the reader’s wrist tight as he moves from one base to another.

Books which are pregnant with facts and figures might offer a better picture of the war fought by Tamil Eelam. I — a reader who approaches books viscerally — loved Malaravan’s diary, which was full of raw emotions. Reading his notes was like listening to a family member who was in the eye of the war. Having travelled with him for a month, I wished Malaravan was alive now to walk the same roads where he battled.

(Thank you, AK, for discovering Malaravan’s diary for me. I love you!)

The Ways I Remember Madras

22-August is celebrated as Madras Day. For my friends who are not from India: Chennai — my hometown — was formerly known as Madras.

*****

20170728_175133The black cow is heavily pregnant. She walks into the lane where we live. Our 400 square feet box is the first house. With a large writing pad on my lap, I am sitting at the threshold. My pen is in mouth, ‘complex’ maths in my notebook. As the numbers hover over my head, I remove the pen from my ear and start chewing it. I see the pregnant cow walking into the lane. I drop everything, run to my mother. An emergency situation. The cow has to be stopped. It’s a narrow lane. If the cow stands there, Father cannot ride his bicycle in. If father can’t bring his bicycle, then I will miss listening to the mellifluous ring of the bicycle’s bell.

Important things emerge in my head and maths is buried deeper. Father has to come in. The cow has to leave. She cannot turn because the lane is supremely narrow and she can only walk backwards. It’s just the kind of predicament that an eight-year-old cannot handle. Mother is too busy to pay attention. When she finally chooses to listen to me, she asks me to feed the cow because she is pregnant. Mothers!

I step out from the kitchen and shudder more to see the cow trying to enter my house. She doesn’t realise that only her head can enter, but she tries all the same. I burst into the kitchen again, come back with a banana, and push it into her mouth. She rolls her tongue around her face. She is pleased. I tell her, “You must leave now. Please. Leave.” It takes seven minutes for me to persuade her. But I win. She takes slow, steady steps, and walks backwards. I must be heaving a sigh of relief. But no! To my surprise, I am sad for not scratching her tender forehead.

*****

“10 rupees for an hour!” says the bicycle mechanic. I am too short to ride Sister’s bicycle, so I hire it from a mechanic. My eyes are on the white bicycle. It’s the only new one, its seat is not torn, and the handlebar shines. “You are too big for that bicycle,” the mechanic dismisses me. I want to cry; I hold back my tears.

The ancient bicycle that I have been allowed to ride seems to have a soul. A lonely, kind one at that. I ride it around the deserted roads of Mylapore. The more I ride it, I realise that the white bicycle is the loser. Here I am, mounted on this vintage bicycle, which can die on me anytime. But it has still got a life. A soul. I don’t know the words life or soul. But I know the bicycle loves me.

I come again the next day. Nobody wants the old bicycle. I feel lucky.

*****

The guy who sells pirated VCD’s wants to carry Calvin. He is the tiniest dog that guy has ever seen. I hand Calvin to him reluctantly. The ruffian who has a heart of gold baby-talks to Calvin. I begin to buy VCD’s only from him.

The vegetable hawker smiles at Calvin. Mother buys greens from her, but the lady is distracted. She drops the greens in Mother’s basket with her kind gaze fixed on Calvin, who is trying to doze in my hands. I am too scared to ask if she wants to carry Calvin. But I know she wants to touch him, kiss him, and whisper sweet nothings in his ears. I place Calvin in her hands. She takes him to her bosom and holds him tight. The warmest imagery. Ever.

Before I go to school, I put Calvin in my bicycle’s basket and pedal for a few metres. I look down to ensure he is comfortable. Once I am sure, I pedal harder, the bicycle moves faster, and Calvin’s ears dance to the tunes of August’s zephyr. The black dog wants me to ride till the end of the world. But important commitments like being on time for morning assembly in school thwarts me. I wish Calvin would forgive me.

*****

A tiny boy. His shoulders are ladened with a heavy school bag. His school uniform is torn here and there. His hair is caked with mud. He is one of the most beautiful boys I have ever met. He blows me a kiss. Is it my crash helmet? Is it my two-wheeled Calvin? Or the very sight of an enormous woman on a bicycle? I don’t know what has inspired him, but he blows me a kiss. I — a 30-year-old woman whose heart is stolen by a school boy — swoon.

I ride on funeral flowers. I ride on dead fish. I ride on roads where there are no roads. I ride slower to not go faster than the boy who is struggling with his broken bicycle. Maybe, with his battered soul. How can I say? I cross smiling, stray days. I say hello to lazy cattle. I smile at cyclists. I smile at rude drivers. I smile. I smile. I keep smiling. For no reason.

*****

Darling, I love You: A Therapy

CapturePatrick McDonnell — author, illustrator, and the creator of the beautiful Mutts — has collaborated with poet and translator Daniel Ladinsky and has created a soulfully addictive book called Darling, I Love You, Poems From The Hearts of Our Glorious Mutts and All Our Animal Friends.

Most poems in the book are shorter than the title. 🙂 I have been revisiting the book often with the intention of memorising the poems; they are so full of heart.

Daniel Ladinsky has translated the works of Hafiz, Rumi… The poems which he has written for Darling, I Love You too present themselves like they are the fallen leaves from the books of the great mystic poets themselves.

The cover features Patrick McDonnell’s heroes Earl (the dog) and Mooch (the cat) and the book features most of his regular characters. Their humans, friends in their neighbourhood, and their furry and feathery friends. Since I have been reading Mutts Comics for a couple of years, it felt like a reunion for me when I met them in Darling, I Love You.

20170810_132405Earl, Mooch, and their humans are peace advocates. They ask us to meditate, listen to birds, smile at canines and felines, make eye-contact when we converse with humans. In the book, Daniel Ladinsky retains their characters and makes them more wise and adorable by throwing in his unique style.

As I am incurably in love with the book, I am sharing a couple of poems here:

Every event is entertaining, if only one observes.

A Child At A Circus

like a child
at a circus,
i am in awe

of the postman
driving by

and poeple
walking past

and that squirrel
on a
limb

and the sound
of a pot in
the kitchen

and the water
sprinkler

and my own
breathing

How does one understand a snail? 😉

She Phoned Saying

she phoned saying,

“i will
be over in a
minute,”

but the sweet snail
was just figuratively
speaking

of course

These Zen masters want me to slow down.

Going So Fast

i wonder
where everyone
is going so fast…

and then
once
there…

probably still
feel anxious about
something

I am moved to tears.

The Sky

the sky is
a suspended
blue ocean

and the stars
are the fish that
swim

This is the simplest poem I have ever read on interconnectedness that I kept reading in Thich Nhah Hanh’s and Pema Chodron’s books.

Greet Yourself

greet yourself
in your thousand
other forms

Darling, I Love You is the kind of book that I want to read at the end of an awful day to heal it, at the end of an amazing day to thank it. It’s the kind of book that I want to carry in my bag and keep beside my pillow. It is my best friend in a paper jacket.

The Liberation of Sita: Remaking of The Past

CaptureI grew up listening to myriad stories from the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. During my high school, I spent a lot of time learning and reciting slokas (Sankrit prayers in meters) from Bhagavad Gita, and Bhagavatham. Whenever we visit ancient temples, Father narrates intriguing stories from Hindu mythology.

I have always loved the stories. It’s been exhilarating, intimidating, and comforting to be told that, regardless of all the trials and tribulations, the law of karma wins. But as I began to expand my reading horizon, it became obvious that only men won in all the stories which I learnt from my childhood. Women were abused, humiliated, and used as pawns. I didn’t recognise then the need for a story to be written about the women who are pushed behind the curtains. When I spotted Volga’s The Liberation of Sita at a bookfair this year, I knew it was an important book, for it’s the voice of a woman who was not given a chance to talk.

Originally written in Telugu (one of the widely spoken native languages of India), and translated by T Vijay Kumar and C Vijayasree, The Liberation of Sita is a beautiful remaking of the past.

Sita is now abandoned by her husband Rama. She lives in sage Valmiki’s ashram and raises her sons Lava and Kusha. The tiny book, presented as five stories which are interconnected, follows Sita as she meets the women — Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila, and Ahalya — who were insulted and hurt by men. Sita listens to their inspiring and enlightening stories, learns how they rebuilt their lives, and gradually releases herself from the clutches of her love for Rama and their sons. Toward the end of the book, Sita, as ably aided by the women’s wisdom, discovers herself and a life beyond her husband and her family.

In India, writers are most often not allowed to exercise their creative freedom to recreate parts of Hindu mythology. Despite the straitjacket, Volga has woven a tale that is clever enough to not offend the fundamentalists, and loud enough to offer a feminist voice to all the women who were insulted in mythology.

Besides allowing me to travel with Sita as she liberates herself, Volga dedicates a chapter to Rama. In that surprising tale, Rama laments for being a prisoner of Arya Dharma which doesn’t allow him to bring back Sita from the forests until she proves her chastity. The reluctant king is lovelorn, depressed, and finds no way out from everything that suffocates him. Sita might have been abandoned by Rama. But, with the help of the women like herself, Sita discovers her free path and Rama continues to be caged. The most unexpected irony.

I adore this note written by the translators:

What Volga attempts through these stories is a compelling exercise in ‘revisionist myth-making’. It was nearly four decades ago that Adrienne Rich made that famous statement about women’s writing as ‘re-visioning’. In the words of Rich, ‘Re-vision — the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction — is for us (women) more than a chapter in cultural history, it is an act of survival’. Since then, re-visioning has figured prominently on the agenda of women writers, and all institution — political, social and religious — have been subjected to a critical re-vision in women’s writing. Even the process of cognition and contemplation have not escaped the re-visionist project and feminism has come to mean ‘a rethinking of thinking’ itself. In the process, re-vision no longer remains a simple act of looking back nor a mere act of survival. It evolves into an active remaking of the past and a re-invention of tradition. In other words, re-vision has turned into an act of creation and trans-creation.

The Liberation of Sita is a fitting tribute to all who try to break gender stereotypes, who raise their voices for the suppressed, who struggle to eliminate the taboos, who initiate life-altering dialogues, and who stand up for what is right.

Note: This is my second read for Bibliobio’s ‘Women in Translation’ month. I am so glad that I read something that was written in an Indian language. 

Out: Unleashed Monsters

CaptureI read Natsuo Kirino’s Out for Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge and Bibliobio’s Women in Translation month.

I finished reading Out last night and I still can’t remove quite a few graphic images from my head. I am also wrestling with some questions for which I can’t find answers. I hope you will help me understand the book more. (This blog might contain spoilers because I would like to discuss a couple of loose ends which are haunting me.)

Everything is going wrong in the lives of Masako, Yayoi, Yoshi, and Kuniko. Everything. They all do night shifts, making boxed lunches. The factory sounds like a place that can make a sane person insane. Quite a gruelling job and an unfriendly place.

Yayoi murders her husband, and all the other women cut up the cadaver and dispose it around Tokyo’s suburbs. That’s only the beginning. They now cannot stop what they have started, for things have gone beyond their control.

I like the book till here. I have given four stars on Goodreads. I still like the book but I don’t see myself recommending it, for I am worried about the all the ghoulish details.

Natsuo Kirino’s observation on gender equality in workplace makes for a great point to discuss. Masako, despite being talented and incredibly focussed at work, is not allowed to grow, only because she is a woman. The men who joined after her are enjoying higher compensations and promotions. I was thankful to Kirino for dedicating a chapter just for that.

I loved the idea that four unassuming women — three of them are pressed by financial crisis — were courageous in their own ways to chop up a body in their bathroom, and tried their best to lead a normal life even after the incident that would have shaken anybody’s core. Although there was no camaraderie among them, they were united by their own problems, by their selfishness. If they were bonded by a heartwarming friendship, perhaps, the book wouldn’t have come across this cold and clinical.

My problems lie here — I do not find Masako’s motive convincing. I understand that she is shutting herself away from the world, her family is dysfunctional, her 20-year-old career turned futile, and that there is a huge void in her life and she decides to fill it in an unconventional way. Despite that, I still wanted a strong reason for Masako to jump into this pool of blood and flesh and bones.

The biggest of problems is this: The climax. I didn’t expect Masako to identify herself with Satake (I choose not to mention anything more about him!). I didn’t want her to find pleasure in being raped, nor did I want her to think that he was the love of her life. When I reached that part, all the bathroom scenes seemed less nauseous. Perhaps, that was a strong statement. But till then, Masako looked human in some way. She might not have drowned in guilt like others, but she still seemed human. After she began adoring Satake, she seemed even more lost and cold.

I enjoyed reading Out. The horror tested my endurance. When I was brushing this morning, I measured my bathroom in my head, and envisaged having a corpse there. I shook my head harder to dispel the image. Sigh!