Wednesday, May 16, 2018

AUTUMN LEAVES - Seasons of Life A BRIEF INTRODUCTION





AUTUMN LEAVES- Seasons of Life
A Brief Introduction



The advancement in knowledge and the growth in opportunities away from home, contributing to a more independent individual learning to live life on his own terms, though desirable, has led to the splintering of families and in a sense an inevitable reality of being left alone as one aged. ‘Autumn Leaves’ traces one such family’s travel through four generations. Krishnan finds himself sandwiched between his father Vishwam’s and his own children’s generations similar to what his father had gone through; each moving away to accept new values and shedding old ones which had ceased to be relevant, to accommodate the changing world. Despite all this drifting away, the one reality that seems to recur at some stage or the other in life, is the yearning to understand oneself when faced with existential angst. Anuja, Krishnan and Kavita’s daughter, though born and bred up in the US and in all sense, an American, sets out on a journey to understand the roots of her parents and forefathers and in the process arrive at her own self-discovery. The story is a fiction and does not judge, for each generation has to live with its own strengths and weaknesses. But whatever the scenario the one thing that will always persist is the reality of birth and death. Whether it is a biological process or God ordained is a matter of conjecture, and so will it always remain and continue to occupy the human mind. Each one charts his own way and defines his own fulfillment.

Autumn for me, conveys quiet contemplation and a reliving of the past and the seasons gone by, and a period of waiting. Keats’s four lines on Autumn still lie etched in my mind -
                                               : quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
   He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
   Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

Adolescence is that time of growing up from a child to adulthood. The onset of puberty brings with it, apart from physical changes in the human body, a need for exploration of one’s sexuality. This is a time when one does not distinguish between love and infatuation. While we always talk about love as everlasting, infatuation is a passing phase which we only realize when we move away. This passing phase for some takes a long time, in the course of which they exist subjecting themselves to procrastination and in the process unfulfilled. Even what we call as love is a fixation that accompanies us as long as we believe it exists. Once it ceases to exist, we are shattered, for there is always an expectation of reciprocity. A sense of betrayal of trust is predominant.

The next two stories ‘Amora’ and ‘Enigma’, deal with infatuation, love, friendship and a search for unifying the divergent forces that exist within us to attain fulfillment.

‘Amora’, I thought was a unique and lovely name. Amora is the closest to ‘Amour’ the French word for love. It was strange but the name’s origin lies in a dream I had, the only thing of which I remember is of a woman who appears therein and when I ask her name, she replies ‘Amora’. I do not know whether my subconscious was at work or whether hidden infatuations had surfaced. But from that single word the story of Aparajit the protagonist developed. Aparajit finds himself bound between two women ‘Amora’ (love) and ‘Maya’ (illusion). Unable to initially accept the truth, he ultimately realizes that relationships are based on understanding and acceptance and that alone is permanent.

Hermann Hesse has been a great influence in my life. Long ago I read Hermann Hesse’s ‘Narziss and Goldmund’ and to this present day it still remains one of my favorite novels. Through all his novels one can sense his attempts at bringing about a balance between the two opposing forces of asceticism and the world so that we reach a better understanding of life and move towards self-realization. In fact, one senses that life is incomplete without experiencing both the states. Like in ‘Narziss and Goldmund’, the theme of duality is dealt with in ‘Siddhartha’, and ‘Demian’ effectively, one of disillusionment and the other of Order versus Chaos.

To say that while writing ‘Enigma’ I have to a large extent been influenced by his writings, will be the truth. The human being is by nature multi-dimensional, but he lives exploring a small part of his potential, frightened of the conflicts that could arise in trying for a synthesis. Real fulfillment can happen only when he is able to do that and for which he has to summon all his courage and brave the consequences that could arise.

The central characters of this story are Atulya, Arundhati, and Amol the narrator. The story is about friendship, love and ultimately fulfillment. To sum up this it would be necessary for me to quote from Hermann Hesse’s ‘Narziss and Goldmund’ –

“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement.”

The two characters Atulya and Amol though very different in their approach to life, stay bonded throughout, recognizing and accepting the other as an integral part of each other. Aside from ‘Autumn Leaves’, which is quietly contemplative and recognizes the reality of aging and loneliness, ‘Enigma’ is intense and highlights the strength of relationships, synthesis, and fulfillment.

The stories do not follow a narrative style and I have stuck to what I have been following in my previous books of going back and forth from past to present and back to the past, avoiding the monotony of a straight narrative to keep the reader engrossed.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

PREFACE - AUTUMN LEAVES Three stories



AUTUMN LEAVES
Three stories

PREFACE
I have this habit of rereading what I wrote, be it the posts on my blog or my books trying to relive those moments that inspired me. The very first book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ has been of particular significance mainly because it was a journey into the realms of my mind. ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ was a very personal journey and though laced with allegorical anecdotes and projections into the future, places it in the realm of a fictional autobiography and that is how I like it to be read for I wanted the reader to connect it with his own journey through life. There is this particular passage which I thought it fit to reproduce here –

I watched as the leaves fell from the tree near the balcony at her house, once green then golden yellow, brown and then on the ground. The tree stood barren and stripped; waiting for winter, to be covered white with snow, the rejuvenation in spring and glory in summer to once again the fall. The cycle continues. Isn’t it very similar to the processes we undergo during our lives? Then would winter signify the hibernation we undergo after death to be rejuvenated and born again during spring? 

This was the inspiration for my second book ‘Darkness and Beyond’ exploring the role of ‘Hope’ which takes life forward. The hope of a beyond after the darkness, like spring after winter.  ‘Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives’ was a journey into the external world of all those who have gone through the darkness of living and still find hope in living and an authenticity that defines their existence. The book explores nine lives, each in its own way ultimately seeking redemption.

Strangely that very passage from my first book and in a way the first chapter of the second book ‘Roots’ which explored the disintegration of the joint family to a generation which once again goes in search of its roots takes shape in my third book ‘Autumn Leaves’. Though the book derives its title from the first and longest story ‘Autumn Leaves’ which also deals with the reality of aging and loneliness, there are two other stories which talk about infatuation and love and dealing with the duality that exists within us as well as the world outside, in our quest to understand life and arrive at a comprehensive view of life.

I have grown to appreciate and empathize with people, things, and events, which in the past would have just passed me by as I was too preoccupied with all things centered around my own existence. Maybe I have more time now but that alone is not the reason for this empathy. Ever since I started putting my fingers on the keyboard (like the good old pen on paper) I found the words give shape to experiences and people populate the pages of the word document. There are stories out there back in our world which still lie undiscovered waiting to be given form. Though I have an image I do not have a plot when I start off and I write as the story unfolds. This is very much in evidence in my second book ‘Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives’ the characters developed as I continued writing and when I look back now I feel happy that I have done justice without resorting to over emphasis and melodrama, making them feel more real. Writing without a plot has made me grow along with the characters and make their experiences my own. It has been more exciting and adventurous this way. I felt like a reader myself waiting for the next piece to fall into place. And this is very much in evidence in ‘Autumn Leaves’

Stephen King in his book ‘On Writing’ says-

Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.

I have taken the liberty to fall back upon two of my favorite poets John Keats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and used them in the book for they sum up life and our quest better than anyone I have come across. In fact, I have quoted the entire poem of Keats ‘The Human Seasons’ at the beginning of this book-

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:

These words gave the necessary impetus to finish what I started writing, and Longfellow’s ‘Psalm of Life’ showed what the ultimate quest of each one was directed at –

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

It has been a journey of nearly five months living through each and every character in the book. There are no heroes or villains, they are only people, though this is a work of fiction, they are real people and I have endeavored to sketch them as they are. There are no judgments, there is no procrastination: there is only life as it is. Each one, at the same time, trying to reconcile the inherent duality and reach a stage of peace and harmony and being one with the world.

GS.Subbu