Review :Way Back Home

Supriyo Sen’s Way Back Home (2003) , winner of the BBC Audience Award, Golden Conch at MIFF, National Award and BFJA Award, chronicles a family’s journey from Kolkata to Bangladesh, a land they were forced to flee in the aftermath of the partition of India. The two hour documentary, dedicated to the minorities and refugees of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, is divided into two parts – Way Back Home and Imaginary Homeland. The protagonists of this film are the filmmaker’s elderly parents who undertake this journey to Bangladesh with a desire to reconnect with their past.

 

 The partition of India involved the forced migration of approximately 12 million people who crossed borders to their newly identified homes in India and East and West Pakistan; cost about 1 million lives in riots and resulted in the abduction of nearly 75,000 women. Partition is remembered as a time of considerable speculation, sadness, anger and trauma and also as a time of  subsistence and victory over tremendous personal and material losses. As opposed to portraying partition as a grand narrative of violence, the film instead reveals the responses of two partitioned subjects to the episodes during and immediately after the partition. The Bengali name of Sen’s documentary is taken from Jibanananda Das’s poem of the same name, “Abar ashibo phirey“, a line that is fervently embedded into the Bengali psyche.

 

 The wife desires to be reunited with a cousin, who had been virtually abandoned by her family because she defied customs and married a Muslim. After fifty long years, her anxious queries lead her to discover that the latter had passed away the previous year. Tears well up in her eyes as she recollects with remarkable vividness and detail, the harrowing conditions under which they stole away from their village in the middle of the night without food and belongings, crossing borders in an attempt to flee persecution. The film however does not exploit the archives of memory only to explore the life of violence. It also looks back to a life of communal togetherness. It seeks to counter narratives which tend to supress the terrible human experiences and valourise the illustrious achievements of the nation and its leaders. By undertaking a scrupulous questioning of the dictum of official narratives, the film strives to construct memories of a history that resonates with those, whose stories remain outside the jurisdiction of official history.

 

 For the most part, Way Back Home can be characterized as a narrative of memory using first person narration to evoke a past time through subjective remembering. While standing in the terrace of her house in Kolkata, the city that she now calls home, the wife laments,”(I) always felt like I have lost everything. That ambience and the people who made it. Everything was missing here.” Being partition refugees, the husband and wife manifest a recurring dilemma that stems from their anticipation of being unable to relate to their homeland as it has – in all probability – altered beyond recognition.

 

 Fifty six years after the partition, the son follows his parents to Bangladesh, in search of his ancestral homeland, a land that he has heard of only in stories. He has grown up with overwhelming inherited memories, whose effects have continued into the present, defying narrative reconstruction and exceeding comprehension. He goes on to narrate,

    “As I was born in a refugee family, I grew up with a quest for our lost homeland. I grew up with the dreams of rivers and canals and wide open fields described by my parents. For me, this journey from Calcutta to Barisal after fifty years, was not a mere geographical coverage. I wanted to reconstruct the lost land by going down memory lane.”

 

 After crossing the border, the car speeds through the roads of Bangladesh. In the dark of the night, the narration continues in a distinct optimistic vein : 

  “We are moving, still moving forward because the world is not cordoned off, all advances are not agression; all valour do not reflect perfect murder. We are moving because there is yet space where crops abound, roots and fruits, intimate shadows of trees flourish. Evergreen hands and hearts, reach out in spring-like rhythm, containing the ancient rituals of love and friendship. Today my parents are returning to their home, following the same route, which they had taken fifty years ago while fleeing for their lives. There were no comebacks in between. It took half a century to make this 10-12 hours journey. This is a voyage to the abandoned homeland, a journey to the forgotten history.”

 

 Remarkable also is the background score that pervades the film at crucial junctures. The lyrics beautifully echo the central theme of the narrative:

 “As I sing the song of homecoming a restlessness fills me up / I am rotting in a foreign land but the ties never leave me / But there are no comebacks even if you wish / I long for my little village, the shadow of the Banyan tree, the quaint river front, the whispering breeze / I still search for that land in dreams and hallucinations / But guess childhood can’t be revisited / The path is lost, the land is lost.” 

 

 As the family return back to Kolkata, the son observes, “অতীত এখন কাটাতারে ঘেরা বিদেশ রাষ্ট্র” (“the past has now been reduced to a foreign land cordoned off by barbed wires”).

 

 Although the film mentions in passing, the bloodbaths and communal riots unleashed by the partition, the interrelationship between history and memory becomes the bone of contention. James Baldwin had once remarked, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” History makes several futures possible but ultimately only one particular future gets realised and we stick to it. But we hold on to the promises of the unrealized possibilities and try to figure out other ways of living them. The film takes the form of a poignant exploration of how history and memory remain entangled.
 The history of partition lays great emphasis on the political developments that led to it. Sen however insists on the human dimension of this history, which has otherwise been shifted to the margin : “The partition was not just about the Nehrus and the Jinnahs. It was about people like my parents who had to forget their own identity and remain dissolved in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the city.” More than any other incident in modern India, partition still lives on in so many people’s lives and in that sense, Way Back Home attempts to and quite successfully embodies that palpable reality.

The Recital

 

My mother thought it fashionable to enroll
Six-year-old girls in dancing schools.

It would make me less chubby, she hoped
She didn’t say this to me though

She was not calling me fat
Not yet.

I failed to lose what is referred to as baby fat,
Must have been then that she gave up on me.

That gauzy skirt was like a real ballerina’s
Tight bodice and shoulder straps

Dark red lipsticks on little mouths
My vermilion lips sloppy and wet.

Coats of mascara on my lashes, stiffened into spikes,
I squinted at my reflection in the mirror.

I changed into my costumes, in a tangle of arms and legs
Giggling, a nervous wreck.

Stage lights, almost blinding,
Mrs. Frances pushed me onto the stage.

My silk stockings glided too smoothly
Over the laminated hardwood

Back row, I bent my knees a little
Suddenly I was a bashful girl.

Determined not to let them see too much,
Just the smooth rounded top of my ballet bun

With my plump arms and bulges of fat
My jiggly thighs and floppy waist

I looked obscene
Grotesque, indecent.

Mrs. Lewis was on the piano
From where I was standing, I could barely make out her face.

I felt the audience mocking the performance,
Reduced to something laughable and indecorous by the presence of a fat girl.

I reckon I resembled a giant caterpillar more than a butterfly
There was no magic transformation.

The girls posed for pictures in their short and stiff tutus
Projecting horizontally from the waist and hip

There were black streaks
Over my pink cheeks like sooty tears

My purple mouth was smudged and swollen,
This absurd dance was the truth about me.

And now everyone could see it
It wasn’t that I couldn’t dance.

Anne Frank and the Electra Complex

In Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, young Anne expresses her thoughts over a two year period during  WW2 when her family went into hiding in the “Secret Annexe”. While there have been considerable talk about the horrors of the Holocaust and how the eponymous heroine emerges into a self-evaluating young girl at the mere age of  fifteen, my essay seeks to tread on a different plane altogether. To anyone who has read the book, it surely doesn’t come as a surprise when I say that Anne Frank was more attached (emotionally or otherwise) to her father, Otto Frank

What I attempt to do in this particular article is to illustrate the underlying Electral overtones in Anne’s affections towards her father.

In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra Complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung in his Theory of Psychoanalysis, is  a girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. The origin of the Electra Complex can be traced back to the Greek mythic character Electra, who plotted matricidal revenge  with Orestes, her brother, against Clytemnestra, their mother, and Aegisthus, their stepfather, for their murder of Agamemnon, their father.

In his 1908 article On the Sexual Theories of Children, Sigmund Freud introduced his theory of the concept of interest in – and envy of the penis. According to Freud, a girl’s sexual development works in a slightly different and much more convoluted way than a boy’s. Psychoanalysis argues that she sees her lack of a penis as a sign that she has already been castrated- she has no penis and she wants one.

Anne Frank records in her diary that she likes her father better and that she becomes unhappy when he doesn’t take her side in petty squabbles. This indicates that she desperately vies for her father’s attention. She goes on to write, “With Daddy it’s different. If he holds Margot up as an example, approves of what she does, praises and caresses her, then something gnaws at me inside because I adore Daddy…I don’t love anyone in the world but him”. The fact that she adores her father could be symbolic of a physical adoration and that she loves no one but her father is evidence of a sexual attraction towards her father. Often times, she complains that her mother and sister have ganged up against her. In one of her day’s entries she notes, “Now I’m not satisfied with this apparent favoritism anymore”. She clearly cannot tolerate her father’s affections for anyone else and feels that she is in competition with her elder sister, Margot.

I want something from Daddy that he is not able to give me.” She constantly craves physical love from him that he is unable to provide her with and gradually she grows instinctively hateful towards her mother. Apart from sexual love “something” signifies her desire for the male penis. While we find her assuring herself that she doesn’t envy her sister’s looks or beauty, she repeatedly claims that she craves her father’s affections. That she is desirious of a sexual union with her father becomes all the more discernible when she writes, “It is only that I long for Daddy’s real love: not only as his child, but for me- Anne, myself”. She craves her father’s love but not the kind of love that parents usually keep reserved for their children, but the kind that involves a sexual relationship.

In the entry dated Saturday, 7th Nov 1942 she writes, “Mummy and her failings are something I find harder to bear than anything else”. Inherent in this line is a sense of profound disgust towards the mother figure and still further, a veneration of the father figure, in comparison. When she grows further desperate and her attempts at securing her father’s love fall flat, she writes, “I wonder if anyone can ever succeed in making their children  absolutely content”. She also realises that her mother (who up until that point has served as her primary love object) has failed her-her mother is similarly penis-less and she certainly can’t give the disappointed girl one. Psychoanalytic logic claims that the girl in anger at her mother, turns to her father, and surmises that if he can’t give her a penis he may be able to give her a baby as a substitute. Anne similarly disappointed by her mother turns to her father for the object of her desire. And she leaves no stone unturned. Time and again , she tries to be perfect in order to impress her father and this is manifested in,”…and everyday I try to improve myself again and again.”

When all her attempts become futile, on Friday, 20th Nov 1942, she writes in vain, “ And at long last, I have made the discovery that Daddy, although he’s such a darling, still cannot take the place of my entire little world of bygone days”. She loathes it when their neighbour , Mrs. Van Daan flirts with her father. On Wednesday, 10th March,1943, she writes : “and I creep into Daddy’s bed nearly every night for comfort.”, which reinforces her intentions to mate with her father and the kind of comfort, she seeks from her father is clearly incestuous. On Friday, 2nd April, 1943, she records: “” Mummy asked very nicely,” Anne, Daddy can’t come yet, shall I say your prayers with you tonight?”” And it comes as no surprise that she rejects this proposal blatantly… “No Mummy, I answered.” She mentions in her diary entry of 7th Jan, Friday, 1944 that she had “spoken about sex with Daddy”. Her evolving curiosity to know more about sex and perhaps about her own body become apparent in the previous statement.

There is another last link in the chain that for me, solidifies my argument. I have noted how time and again, she refers to her father as Daddy, and this term seems to me to be indicative of a further attempt at endearment. I would like to conclude by drawing your attention to another seemingly minute detail. In one page, Anne Frank looks back at her experience from 1943 : “tried to draw Pim towards me, but couldn’t”. And in case, you are wondering who Pim is, do not be amazed when I reveal to you that it’s no one other than her father. This last statement could be seen as her acceptance of her failure in securing a successful sexual relationship with her father.

 

Amy

The phone rang. Thrice.

With her slender fingers , she picked up the receiver and put it to her ear. When the man at the other end started speaking she squeezed her eyes shut. The slim wedding ring on her finger caught the sunlight as it spilled out of a gap in the curtains. The gold band shone brilliantly, unabashedly almost. As soon as the line at the other end went dead, she rushed out of the room, closing the door on her way out.

 

Out in the street, the sun was almost setting. The sky was dyed pomegranate pink with a hint of tangerine. She watched with an unwavering gaze, as a fiery  red orb of light slowly sank beneath the horizon.

A quick tap on her shoulder.

Almost immediately, she turned back and saw him. His face – high cheekbones and symmetrical. The same deep brown eyes and tanned skin that she had seen the week before. He was still slender, despite his years.  In his hands, he held a manilla envelope.

“Your tickets”, he said as he handed over the envelope to her. She glanced over her shoulders several times.

She hesitated.

The adrenaline flew over her veins like a carp through the river, but she couldn’t move a single muscle. It took a lot of effort on her part, to grasp the envelope. He took her hand, gave it a slight  squeeze and quickly kissed her on one cheek.

Then a slight wave of the fingers. With that he turned back and strode away quickly in the direction he had come from.

She stood there, in the street for a few good minutes. Then, as if someone had jolted her back into reality, she woke up with a start and started walking.

The daylight had dwindled to a barely perceptible  lightening of the gloom. Each wall of concrete seemed identical to the next. Standing in what could be any part of the labyrinth, she folded the envelope and placed it inside her purse.

She walked steadily down the pathway and turned the key. She was greeted by her daughter. The little girl tugged at her skirt and as if this was signal enough, she crouched down and picked her up in her lap. She felt the child’s soft skin against her own cheeks.

“Mamyyyyyy homeee”, the toddler screamed from her lap. Her husband appeared in the hallway.

The hug was  a perfunctory gesture mandated by social etiquette and colder than day-old oatmeal. It was short, where it should be long, rigid instead of soft and it ended as abruptly as it had begun. Though his legs moved slowly, he was still walking away as each stride carried him further.

At dinner, she could hardly eat. He was sittting on the other end of the table. She watched him gobble down his food, in a hurry. Normal, she thought. Suddenly she felt cold and tightened the pull of her sweater over her shoulders.

The next morning when she woke up, he wasn’t there. He had already left for work. She woke up her daughter, gave her a bath, fed her breakfast, packed her lunchbox, plaited her hair, dressed her up , and walked her to the bus stop. As the bus rolled away, she walked back home .

The house somehow felt calmer. Stiller. She looked at the clock on the wall. 9 o’ clock. She had to get ready.  She went up the stairs. On the way to the bedroom, she peeped inside her daughter’s room. She took a good look at the bed, at her toys. She left the door open. Walking into her bedroom, she grabbed a duffle bag from the wardrobe and tossed in a bunch of clothes randomly into the bag.

Next, she stood in front of the mirror. With the thumb and forefinger of her right hand, she twisted the wedding ring on her left hand. She glanced at her face on the mirror. Her eyes blinked several times. She tossed back a few stray strands of hair from her shoulders. Picking up the duffle bag from the bed, she crossed over to the windows and pulled the curtains shut. With a last look at the ruffled bedsheets from the night before, she closed the door behind her.

She hailed a cab from the street. She paid the driver and took out the envelope from her purse.  With her bag in one hand and the envelope in the other, she walked inside the terminal. For a few minutes she stood outside the first class lounge.

Waiting.

Someone embraced her in a hug from behind. The familiar scent…it was him. He kissed her passionately on the mouth. Her throat burned. He handed her a small bouquet of roses. Then he grabbed her wrist and pulled her through the throng of people.

“Come”, he said.

In the mad rush of the platform, her hand slipped away from his clutch.

” Amyyyyyy, Amy”.

He called to her to follow. He got up on the train. She stood among the swaying crowd in the station, tickets still in her hand. Her cheeks felt cold and pale. Out of distress, she prayed to God to direct her. If she went with him, tomorrow she would be in a different place, in a new city. She felt nauseated. Her hand clutched the bouquet in a frenzy. She looked at him like a helpless animal, passively.

Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition. As the whistle blew and the train started to move, she gave a cry of anguish. She dropped the tickets on the station floor. She looked down at the roses in her hand, hanging heavy on their stems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Photograph

I flopped down on bed with the stack of photographs still in my hand. As I flicked through the pictures, I found the one I was looking for. Three girls , smiling at me, big grins plastered on their faces.

Curiously enough, I distinctly remember the first day  I had met her. It was one of those evenings at Meera’s place, wasn’t it? Meera had introduced her to me as her cousin. There was something otherworldly about her- the way she sat with her feet curled up on the couch, her hair strewn around her shoulders in a mess. Her dark rimmed glasses were bigger than her otherwise small round face. I remember trying to make out the colour of her eyes, but the reflection of light on her glasses  had prevented me from doing so.

Meera had introduced us, “This is my cousin, Millie. She’s also studying at the university.”

And that was the beginning of everything.

Meera kept on talking, almost all through the evening. But all I did was, stare at Millie. In the course of the evening, Millie had caught me staring at her but she had returned my gaze with a smile.  And when she smiled, an unexpected warmth had rushed through me. There was only a slight movement of her cheeks, her lips had curled up and you could see the top row of her teeth. On anyone else perhaps, it would be a grimace at best. On her however, it was a sign of bliss. As her grin grew deeper, her spectacles slided, ever so slightly down the bridge of her nose.

I remember going to bed that night , my head filled with glimpses from the preceding evening.

Brown, I  had decided. Not like the wet bark of the oaks but soft reflecting browns. Those deep swirls of brown that coloured her pupils had bewitched me. Nevertheless, she had one of those eyes, that go into you like a bullet.

I remember being unable to sleep that night . I had  merely tossed and turned over in bed.

After a few  more meetings, one evening I had kissed her on the balcony. For a moment she yielded and let me lift up her face and kiss her; then suddenly she recoiled and shook her head. Perhaps she was frightened. Her unmoving gaze was accompanied by slow breathing, like she was fighting something back and losing. Without saying anything, she broke from me and hurried inside.

When the next day I told Meera that I might have developed feelings for her cousin, she flew into a rage. She refused to hear anything further. It seemed, that she couldn’t bear to imagine that her female friend had fallen for her aunt’s daughter. When I kept on persisting, she advised me to steer clear of Millie, that she would not tolerate any such nonsense with her cousin. She had looked at me as if I were a lunatic. Meera didn’t speak to me  for more than a month. When we  resumed talking however, I was informed that Millie had gone to the States, where she was pursuing her master’s degree. I wonder why Millie never contacted me after that evening.

The past is a curious thing. It’s with you all the time. All these years had passed. But I had not gone back to that day. There was time for everything except that. One thing about the human mind is that it goes in jerks. There’s no emotion that stays by you any length of time.

Yesterday evening, I had seen her outside the shopping mall. There she was, standing in front of me, after ten years. She didn’t notice me, of course. Here I was and here was Millie. Our bodies might have been a yard apart, and we were just as much as strangers as though we had never met. It was as if the whole thing had never happened.

But as a matter of fact, I kept thinking how different things turn out from what we expect. The times we had together, wouldn’t you think, it  would leave some kind of after effect behind? When you look back over a  long period, you seem to see human beings always fixed in some special place and in some characteristic attitude.

Sitting on my bed, I saw her again, like a hallucination painfully clear . For a while I was mad, mas as Schrödinger’s, cat  stuck in it’s box. I could feel the warmth evaporating from my eyes, faster than summer rain on the tarmac. For sometime, I know not for how long , I buried my head under the bedclothes. There was a sudden insanely rich scent of damp. All the while, it was raining, raining.

 

 

Memories

Anita was sitting on the floor of her bedroom and in her hands was a rather tattered copy of Joyce’s Dubliners. She however couldn’t concentrate on any reading. Instead she flipped through the crumpled yellow pages of the book, absentmindedly.

She lifted her head and her eyes scanned the room. The furniture consisted of a study desk complete with a desktop computer and cluttered with books and papers, a wall-to-floor cabinet and a bed, clothed entirely in white. On the two bookshelves however, the books were neatly stacked in no particular order.

Looking out at the the tiny speck of sky visible through a small gap between the half-closed windows, she let her mind wander. There was nothing fascinating outside. A couple of dull painted houses greeted her eyes. The walls of the houses had once been decked with fresh coats of paint. Constant exposure to rain and sun had almost transformed their hue. There were patches of moss clinging to the brick walls, here and there. It had started raining.  The rain fell down in a steady torrent. A crow flew in and perched down on the ledge of a window of the opposite house.  The bird was so drenched that  you could almost see the skeleton beneath its wet feathers.Her eyes listless, she stared at the dull brick wall fixedly.

Somewhere, a faint silhouette of a tall boy appeared. He didn’t look at her and he stood with his back turned to her. She closed her eyes and opened them again. When she blinked, a drop or two ran down her cheeks. A drop fell on her cheek; touched the corners of her lips and she could distinctly taste the salty water.

Anita had a sweetheart in high school. He was the same age as her. They begun talking talking to each other via text messages. Within weeks, they had grown rather fond of each other and before long, their friends had tagged them as a couple. She distinctly remembered the very first time that she had been kissed and how afterwards they stood on the rooftop of her house- both breathing heavily and each glancing sideways to avoid the initial awkwardness. And then when she had turned to leave, he had held her hand and pulled her into a warm embrace.

She turned to look at the book in hand and this time , as she flicked through the pages a folded piece of paper fell out. A long time back, she had carefully put it between the pages of the book. As her memory began to wander, she felt that his hand touched hers. Once again, she raised her eyes from the paper and gazed out of her window. He had written her a letter on her birthday, the only letter from him that she had kept.

She sat there for a long time. The house was very quiet. She read it not aloud, but moving her lips silently as  a priest does when he reads the prayers. She realised that he had become a memory. It was almost an hour later that she got up and went to the roof . She stood at the exact spot where they had stood, three years before. She asked herself what else she could have done. She had done what seemed to her best.

As she approached the edge of the roof, she halted and looked towards the city. Dusk was setting in. The rain had also stopped. She seemed to feel his voice touch her ears. She felt that she had been outcast from life. Someone had seemed to love her and she had successfully turned him away.

She turned her eyes  to the evening sky. The daylight had dwindled. Each wall of concrete appeared identical to the next. The street below resembled an old photograph, every familiar thing a shade of grey. She stood there for some minutes, listening. She could hear nothing : the evening was perfectly silent.

What I Have Been Reading

With my exams being over, all I wanted to do was get some decent amount of sleep. The past one month was quite harrowing- what with three or four hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep had reduced me to a live zombie.

Needless to say, under such circumstances,  I spent the better half of the week , sleeping like a log. However,once I was recharged from the much required sleep marathon, I was on the lookout for something to read. One of my friends, who also happens to be studying english lit. ,had by that time already started studying the next year’s syllabus and it is precisely at this juncture that she suggested that I read Charles Lamb’s essays. Now, I am not one for reading nonfiction. I have rather disliked the idea of reading nonfiction, since forever. But since I would inevitably have to read essays for my coursework, I decided to take the plunge.

So I started off with Dream Children:A Reverie. Lamb’s essays are rather short, six or seven pages at the most. I was quite surprised when Dream Children proved to be a rather smooth read, quite unlike how I had imagined it to be- rather dull with long sentences and full of archaisms. In fact,this particular essay was nothing short of a short story with an unprecedented twist in the end. I also happened to read a few other essays by Lamb , namely, Disertation upon Roast Pig, which I must mention, was akin to reading a children’s folk tale-impeccably simple yet insightful. There was also another one called  Old China and yet another , Old Familiar Faces, which is presented in the form of a poem. There is a wonderful synthesis of personal and universal interests in the essays. Although the style is old fashioned, bearing echoes and odours from Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici, Lamb’s essays also manifest his humorous and whimsical assuming of roles as well as his antiquarian interests. In Dream Children, his pathos deepens into a quivering sigh of regret.

Another author whose works I  have started reading is George Orwell. I began with his essays. In fact, I made a list of some of his notable essays. His essays are extremely engaging and my favourite would have to be Bookshop Memories, where he recounts his experiences as a book seller in an old bookshop. There’s a little bit of subtle humour involved in the description of the people who happen to frequent a bookshop. If however, you have read Lamb’s essays and compare those with that of Orwell’s, you’ll quickly notice that the two  make use of rather varying streaks of humour.

The next essay that I probably read was Shooting an Elephant, where he talks about the time when he was stationed at Burma as a sub-divisional police officer. As the title suggests, he does describe the circumstances that led him to shoot an elephant but he also raises some significant concerns with regard to “imperialism”. Being a Briton, and as such a colonizer himself, he felt that “imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better.” He speaks perhaps for several other young English youths as well as for himself when he says, “Here was I the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd-seemingly the leading actor of the piece but in reality I was only an absurd puppet…”. The essay also conveys perhaps an idea that we generally never care much about –  the white man turns into a  tyrant , only when he surrenders his own freedom. This dichotomy between the colonizer and the colonized is a rather curious one and quite complex at that. I,for one, never thought that it was even possible for white men to feel manipulated by natives.

Another of Orwell’s essays, called Nonsense Poetry traces  the origins of nonsense verse  and talks briefly about the various specimens of nonsense poetry as found in nursery rhymes. Curiously enough,  while Orwell does not completely disregard Lewis Carroll’s contributions to nonsense poetry, he however deems Edward Lear as the finest exponent of this type of verse.

All non fiction and no fiction kind of took a toll on me and I decided to switch tracks. Next on my reading list was Animal Farm. The story revolves around a party of farm animals, who having been stirred into rebellion oust the farm’s owner, Mr. Jones whilst renaming “Manor Farm” to “Animal Farm”. The narrative is a satire drawing on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In his essay entitled Why I Write, Orwell comments that in Animal Farm , his motive was to ” fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”. Through the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, the story reveals how totalitarianism creeps up in the most quixotic of organizations. Boxer , was for me the most heartbreaking character in the novel and I do not wish to be driven into a debate as to which animal represents what. The ending, perhaps quite anticipatory, does justice to the theme of the novel; the other animals gaze with astonishment at the striking resemblance between the pigs and humans at the table. This book was definitely engaging and I finished it with the span of two hours.

I am currently reading Down and Out in Paris and London, also by George Orwell (okay well, I’ll admit that I have taken a fancy to him). Once I am done with this one, I will probably move onto Ray Bradbury’s distopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, which I have been meaning to read for quite a while now.