The Romantic Dream Of Reading Jhumpa Lahiri During Struggle And Depression In Lockdown


Jhumpa Lahiri is an impossible beauty. I started reading her again during lockdown remembering The Namesake and The Lowland.

I take pictures of female writers like photographs. Their backgrounds and cultures, their families and children. At which universities they studied at. What literary prizes they have won. If they are female, I am drawn to what they have achieved, accomplished.

What I haven’t. The great male writers, nothing can compare to their huge intellect, the moth-subtle appearance of their language, the shape, the identity, the psychological challenge of reading and understanding them. I never compare male writers to female writers.

What would be the point of that. Genius versus genius. Anti-feminist versus feminist. Feminist versus feminist. There is a brief lull in the proceedings today in my life. It takes an eternity to write the short story.

It is an original and genuine art in itself. Elsewhere there’s a storm but it is periodic. Some women grow old gracefully.

Some women live dying a succession of deaths on the basis of intellectualism and the fourth wave of the feminist treatise. Some women are alone.

Some women, those who inherited these pearls of wisdom from mothers and grandmothers, are surrounded by spouse, children and grandchildren. Lahiri has taught me well. The calling of a short story writer is as an early winter. I am a woman in love.

It is a quickening of a montage of enlightenment, and sometimes as anti-feminists or feminists, as pioneers or short story writers we pay for the rest of our lives for something we didn’t do. That didn’t mean that much to us in the first place.

I want to make a difference, a perpetual impact envisioning heaven in all of its glory. I have known the pain of rejection, the loneliness of association with other interlopers.

So to write is to be inspired and to inspire a revolution from within, positioning a turning point in others.

That all of life, the fulfilment bound in life is divine in nature, that life itself is precious, being, feeling, fully aware.

I think of the white teeth of speech, prayer and songs. Roots taking shape like the kiss of life. Beginnings come with scrutiny, knee-deep in oral tradition and custom, the old dooryard.

In my books, as in Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories where there is a lack of knowledge, people are destroyed. There is higher learning with absolute arrogance, supreme arrogance. Characters are sheltered by their ignorance from the shark tank of the world.

So, I begin with the story, call it The Psychology Of Rebecca.

Everything is jade or a blue screen. The stars and the alignment of the planets are regal. I stride forward, celebrate the past, her past, my past and create my future. So, I write about limited flaws.

My own, other women’s materialism. No more hiding in the wild for me.

Survival can be redemptive. Seeking closure to the bloody battles of the heart with goodwill and progress and beguiling faith. Tomorrow becomes like raining snow. It blooms in shade. Trials of fire.

I write about leaving the past behind, the man’s hand in the small of the woman’s back, inequalities, the hunger and misery of non-spirituality and intimidation, immense neediness and human suffering. I mean to tell you about legend. The legend of a woman.

The woman of resistance, the revolutionary, the creator and created of infinite wisdom. I think of wisdom, the collective and tortured loneliness of a woman. I write about submission and obedience.

A child and a man will and can never understand that loneliness. In the stories there is the letting go of an unhappy childhood and I wonder if this is what it is like for every female writer.

Her resurrected day, her walk into nightfall, words, negativities, self-doubt and insecurities.

What turns her towards hardship and despair, courage when she is under fire, a woman who waltzes with silence, with a kind of phantom grace, but loneliness and the art and symbol of therapy is on my mind all the time.

So, to the short story I have this to say. You voyage into eternity, into the fellowship of the wild with exceptional purpose, with all of your might and power of the abundance of your wildflowers. We will survive as we have always survived. Out to sea there are glaciers, on the mountains there is snow, and my energies are at current level.

There is flock, blue sky consuming gigantic ceiling, there will be rain, but we will venture outside again in the same way as the high wind, dawn in the fullness of the hour. You are providence. You are extraordinary. You are early risers. You are foot traffic. You are folded away lions and tigers in the archives, and although we are all tourists now, we are exceptional. Our purpose is exceptional, and for those that live in memory, you are time, and the ones you left behind, we are time too. We all exist in the same way philosophy exists. In terms of functionality, potentiality, invincibility. In terms of sufficient knowledge, in our state of awareness and mind. In the maintenance of our ordinary yet extraordinary routine let this keep us mindful of our environment, our world, our psychological framework to be in the stillness a symbol of hope, our anthem of hope for everyone around us at the turning point in time. To health and to our liberty.

To humanity. Centuries touch me as I sigh into the wind and speak to the glory of God.

The world is changing, narratives are changing, there is the letting go and spelling the end of things. As a writer I walk in obedience even when insecure and vulnerable, alone, lonely, helpless and powerful, powerless and defenceless. I tell myself to be spontaneous.

To be bullish.

The weeks go by, my struggle and depression increases during lockdown.

I would rather hurt, than feel nothing. Nothing at all. Then the months hurry. The stories do as they please mostly. Still I am here.

Still nothing happens. Otherwise I am well. Surviving under the circumstances. Coping with the mechanisms of self and ego. In the short story I am me, then someone else, then just not me at all.

I have to follow the long sound of it for a moment, up and down, with my ear alone, before any words come through it.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.


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