"In the midst of all the complainingly, I forgot to write how melancholy, yet beautiful winter is. Nowadays, when I'm walking home from the bus stop, the world seems calmer and hushed - even the cars seem to glide silently on snow dust. Once when I was absentmindedly making my way home, I looked up and saw, then felt, tiny, nail-size flakes brush my eye. Maybe it's the quality of the light that fills me with this intense, almost religious contemplation, or the way the sky takes on a muted glow when the snow is softly, covering everything with a magical blanket...making me feel even more wrapped in myself." - Sanjay Talreja, Downward this Dog
Downward this Dog is a collection of short stories set in Toronto, India, and Pakistan. Worlds I know, either directly or indirectly, through my Nani's and Dadi's stories.
I like these stories.
I am also grateful that reading them, has brought me back to yoga. I did yoga everyday for years, and then put it aside for running. But I will now try doing both. I like yoga's quietness. It's what I need.
I will also try to be quieter in this space from now on. I have been too loud for too long out here. I am not sure how I turned into this person who shouts out every thought, but it really is completely unnecessary, and more than a little exhausting.
Please shoot me, if I am here again tomorrow.
Anais Nin is a writer I admire. She writes with such fluidity. Last year, I read Little Birds, a collection of short stories, which I hated, but I didn't want to give up on her, and so I read Mirages; The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, and I fell in love.
I just finished reading the Delta of Venus, and while there were certain stories which appealed to me, or certain bits in a few stories, which I liked, I did not like the collection as a whole.
She wrote these stories because she had bills to pay, and a writer friend had put her in touch with an old man willing to pay for erotica. But this old man's tastes and mine couldn't be more different.
The collector, as she referred to him, demanded that she "leave out poetry and descriptions of anything but sex. Concentrate on sex." He wanted, "less poetry." He demanded that she be "specific." This collection contains stories which are incestuous, others which are pedophiliac in nature, still others turned me off because many of the male characters were Arab, or black, and it seemed to me, that they were merely being used, to add an element of the exotic.
I still love the way she writes, but I wish she had had the leisure of writing stories to suit her own taste.
She hated the old man. As I hate him now, even given this distance of time and place. She complained of him: "But did anyone ever experience pleasure from reading a clinical description? Didn't the old man know how words carry colors and sounds into the flesh?" But even more importantly for me, she says: "women, I thought, were more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love, and to single out one man rather than be promiscuous." "But although women's attitude towards sex was quite distinct from that of men, we had not learned how to write about it." "In numerous passages I was intuitively using a woman's language, seeing sexual experience from a woman's point of view. I finally decided to release the erotica for publication because it shows the beginning efforts of a woman in a world that has been the domain of men." I continue ranting in the comments.
Happy birthday, here on this platform, which you so love! I was looking through pictures of you right now, the ones that I like best, and it made think of things that I like best about you. All those pictures with our kids, others people's kids, all have one thing in common; how much you love children and how much they love you back. Even now, with our kids turned teenagers, I hear you talking to them in their rooms, and my heart melts at the sweetness.
And then, of course, there is that thing you do in response to the thing I do. I shut myself off, I retreat at the slightest rebuff, real or imagined, and yet, you always find ways to draw me back to yourself, to make me laugh. For that I will always be grateful.
The deal closer, of course, is what was in action this morning; your ability to shovel vast amounts of snow, while I chat with the neighbours, take pictures, and shovel here and there. But then you have always known that I married you for those biceps! 😉
"Nur knew that there was a history of overlooked Mughal women: too many names missing from documents. Her mother-in-law had given the Mughal Empire the precious gift of an emperor, Jehangir, but was left out of the official record. Jehangir never officially noted the name of the concubine who gave birth to his son Prince Shahryar, or mentioned his wife Jagat Gosain in the context of her son's successes. Nur overrode this tradition of silence. In act after act - hunting, advising, issuing imperial orders and coins, designing buildings - she ensured that her name was etched indelibly in public memory and in history." - Ruby Lal, Empress, The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan.
Nur Jahan has always been a figure that has fascinated me. Decades back when I first thought of writing a book, it is her life I spent months researching, her life I wanted to write about in a fictionalized form. It never did happen. I never wrote that book.
But now, when I finally did write a book, the name of my publisher, by strange coincidence, is Nur Jahan Aziz. I hope to one day write the book I wanted to write all those years back and I hope that even then, it will be this other Nur Jahan, this other woman of significance in my life, who publishes it.
This morning began by my receiving an explicit message from a complete stranger, and my immediate reaction after blocking the fool, was to hide myself somehow, but I won't do that. Why should I be the one to hide? Let him hide.
So here I am, and this is what I look like in good moments. As for my bad moments, count yourself lucky that you don't have to see those.
Also, some love advice: Perhaps, try some honest emotion, try caring about the other human being, approaching them with kindness and intelligence, instead of just perversity.
• • •
'I am a woman and have better stories to tell '
I wanted this book since last year and the want was worth it. The book is a set of 12 short stories, transcending upon different genders and backgrounds. The stories touch different segments of life, from an old widow reminiscing her husband to a trans women finding her home to be strangers land. The stories are fictional but at the same time so real that you just can't stop believing that this is not happening around you. However there were stories that I wished were longer, I longed for more detail and depth.
Nonetheless the writer has managed to do something great in these short stories. The book is filled with thought provoking concepts and at least for me it is after a long time that I was able to pen down so many thoughts on my journal while reading. I just love this book and would recommend you all to read this. This book has made me want to read more on transgender, specifically in South Asia, so recommend books if you have read any.
#thingsshecouldneverhave #bookreview #booksof2019 #readingwomen #readingPakistan #bookstagram #booklove #shortstories #loveforbooks #bookswag #ig_books #mawenzihouse #tehminakhanwrites
"I tell you this true story just to prove that I can. That my frailty has not yet reached a point at which I can no longer tell a true story." Joan Didion, Blue Nights
A few months back, I read The Year of Magical Thinking and it blew me away. Joan Didion wrote that book following the death of her husband, and even though, she and I, are women who come from completely different worlds, I found myself relating to so much in that book.
This one, Blue Nights, is the story of coping or trying to cope with the death of her daughter and the trials of aging. I liked The Year of Magical Thinking so much I listened to it twice over. I am tempted to do the same with Blue Nights. "Time passes. Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember." But here is something else that struck me in this book. Privilege. I confess to often dismissing people born to privilege. I assume that because they are born on third base, their trials and tribulations are somehow less worthy or less deserving of empathy. Reading this book, I realized how blind I have been. We all hurt equally when struck down by life, though privilege, power, and wealth does offer many advantages, it should not make us unsympathetic to anyone's humanity. Same way, we should not hold lack of privilege against anyone, we shouldn't hold having privilege against anyone either. "Privilege" is something else.
"Privilege" is a judgment.
"Privilege" is an opinion.
"Privilege" is an accusation.
Joan Didion, Blue Nights
• • •
You know what a perfect day feels like?
It feels like today.
I can't tell you all how happy I am, because today was like a dream come true for a bibliophile like me. So let's move to what happened, with the background story.
Around a year ago I was researching different topics and exploring book titles when I read some amazing reviews of this book called 'Things she could never have', I knew I wanted this book and it went on my #GoodReads TBR list, but than started the quest for getting it. Unfortunately it wasn't available in Pakistan and I sort of tried to settle with the idea that I would have to wait alot before I get this. Until one day I discovered the author of the amazing book on Instagram. I followed her and read her cute little insta stories and fell in love with her writing more. Then one day, I gathered the courage and talked to her and well let me tell you she is a gem of a person, she talked to me and promised me a copy *faints*. We made a plan to meet at adab fest but unfortunately that didn't work out (because work) but she was so sweet to call me over. And well not only did I get a signed copy but I got to meet her in person had an enlightening conversation over tea, pakoras and chanay ke daal ka halwa.
This my friends is what a perfect day feels like.
Thankyou @tehminakhanwrites for this amazing book and your company.
#thingsshecouldneverhave #meetingtheauthor #signedcopy #perfectday
• • •
Pakistan doğumlu ama artık Kanadalı zarif @tehminakhanwrites Tehmina Khan ile bir okuma gecesinde tanıştım. Üniversiteyi Türkiye'de okumuş eşi Nasir de yanındaydı. Nasir ile Türkçe konuştuk. Tehmina' ın kendi kitabından okuduğu pasajdan ziyade onun duruşundaki yumuşaklığın altında saklayamadığı gücünden etkilendim. Nitekim Insatgram'dan çok sıkı bir okur ve hayata karşı dik duruşu olduğunu gördüm. Ne yazık ki o akşam yanımda para yoktu ve kitabını alamamıştım. En nihayet kitaba kavuştum ve heyecanla okuyacağım. İşin daha da güzel tarafı kitap bir öykü kitabı, bir ilk kitap. Sohbetimizde 1001 Gece Masallarına yorum getireceği bir projeden bahsediyordu.
I have met this distinguished lady, Tehmina Khan at a reading night. We had a small chat with her and her husband Nasir, who went to university in Turkey. I was struck more by her pose which seemed soft but not enough to cover her strength as a woman rather than the passage she read from her book that night. After following her in Instagram I found out I was right about my feeling about her plus that she is a very good reader. Unfortunately I didn't have cash with me that night and couldn't buy her book. Finally I got the book and am very excited to read. As I myself am a short story writer that the book is a collection of her stories is a bonus for me. It is her first book but she told me that she is working on another one. #book #shortstory #literature #tehminakhanwrites