Sunday, October 17, 2004


For the past week, I've been in Madras in the bosom of my family. I do love being 'home' -- it isn't home in any sense except that my Mother lives here and also in the sense that I don't have any other plausible base -- but I am also strangely transformed when I am surrounded by my nearest and dearest. For instance, I found I couldn't blog while I was sharing this room with my sister and niece, even though we are all self-contained and have no difficulty leaving the others alone while we pursue our various private obsessions. I could, for instance, play URU's expansion packs while my sister complained about my lack of manners/taste/sense -- but blogging? No, I couldn't do that.

Lots of interesting things seen and done. It is so curious to be immersed in multiple streams of consciousness. For instance, in the past week, one of the on-going stories concerns a young first-cousin-once-removed (i.e., the offspring of a first cousin), a girl. There's a long, complex story involved but this week's episode saw this eighteen year-old of divorced parents choosing to leave the comfort and security of her grandparents' home to live with her largely-absentee (so far) mother. What has amazed and saddened several observers is that by doing this, the girl seems bent on destroying her chance at going to college (the grandparents begged of her to wait till she'd got a degree before leaving their care -- she'd already had one month in the hostel, and had started attending classes) in favour of a mother who has never been able to hold down a job and who has no independent means of support. Yet from her point, this lady is her MOM and certainly in the eyes of most outside observers, a mother's bond with a child can never be substituted by any other agency, however well-intentioned.

Of course there are many more twists and complexities, but at the heart of the story is the question: is a parent/child bond really all that sacred? Is there too much sentiment riding on these issues? Of course each individual will have his or her own perspective, based on his or her own experience of life. My own view is that the girl is making an idiotic mistake but then ... that's just me. I find emotional/sentimental resolutions unnerving and irritating, but apparently most humans thrive on them.

Another weird point that I find myself contemplating when I am surrounded by family, and thus living in a psycho-social bath of personal-histories streaming away on every side -- couplings, recouplings, replications, terminations, renewals, reversals, tragedies, triumphs -- a rather unfortunate thought keeps recurring: that at least from the point of view of the traditional world, having daughters really IS a drag. Isn't this a ghastly realization to have? But really, when I hear several variations upon the theme of people who beget daughters, then keep them contained in tiny, air-tight containers, then shatter into vicious little fragments when the daughter -- god curse her hormones! -- succumbs to evolutionary forces and gets preggers ... well, from the point of view of such people -- who represent apparently the over-whelming mass of the world -- a daughter is a blue-chip liability. But it's not because of anything inherently nasty about the female condition; it's the inability of human society to cope with the realities of reproduction. A very carefully plotted, cunningly maintained and ferociously defended form of extreme stupidity.

Aside from these disturbing ideas ... I can report that the most interesting read I've had in a while has been the first two books of the BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, by Jonathan Stroud. Utterly delicious. When I am feeling strong enough (in a day or two) I will post a long appreciation.


Amrobilia said...

Sad! Sad! Sad! Jiski laathi, uski bhais! The weak shall NOT inherit the Earth! From where thee and thine kind spring forth from one doesn't know, but it IS bad for the rest and the poorer one is the harder it gets (debatable?!). I have this lovely little girl that I am so in love with and I feel so scared when I think of her future...there I go again! But what to do? - can't hold back the love. She's smart, she's enterprising, she's curious, has a will of her own. How to nurture all this if she's living in a world where these qualities are shunned, scorned, disdained in a girl?

Am reading this lovely book "The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche (NOT "The T. Book of the Dead) and it's GOOD!


Marginalien said...

Well I'm sure you'll do whatever's in your power to help that child along Amro ... It's the Starfish story, as always. I heard it in a silly Eddie Murphy movie in which he's a sort of media guru, but when I Googled it, I discovered that he got the story from an existing children's classic called Star Thrower. Here's a summary: a man is walking by the sea shore, where millions of starfish have been washed up onto the sand. Then he sees a little girl throwing starfish back into the sea. He asks her what she's doing and she replies, "Saving starfish!" When he points out that it's a wasted effort, since she can't possibly save all the starfish stranded on the shore, she disagrees. "It DOES make a difference," she says. "For THIS starfish, THIS one in my hand, it makes all the difference to be saved!" (not a direct quote). Likewise your little girl ...

Amrobilia said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!