22.4.15

There will be consequence.  Somewhere
In lost children. Lost elsewhere
Walking down a bridge that guarded time
Following back home a risen tide
Was that the day he chose his side?

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11.12.15

And all the word hangs in the balance of what you don’t yet have

And all you are is a matter of what you are not

Until one day when you suddenly feel

Like the skin you have has been shredded enough

When you have been in all places unkind

The better place is somewhere inside

Freedom is in the colors you hide

 

Momina Arif

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, a book review.

The Metamorphosis is a novella by Franz Kafka which was first published in 1915. It is known for the prestigious German Literary Prize, Theodor Fontane Prize. Gregor Samsa the protagonist lies awake contemplating in his body of a vermin the circumstances in which he transformed over the night. He is a traveling salesman with the immediate concern being his inability to get to work by 7, meeting the customers that he ever fails to build meaningful relations with and earning enough money to pay off his family’s debts which all now seem impossible to do in his new body and his inability to answer to door.

Over the course of The Metamorphosis the author lets us in on the personality of Gregor. He is a man overburdened by the responsibility of paying off his parents’ debts and he would have to work for the boss he detests for at least 5 years more until he can pay off these debts. Gregor shows acceptance in the face of his work life and in the face of his transformation which becomes the theme of this story. We also see that Gregor is responsible and he has shocked his workplace and his family by his inability to get to work on time given that he has previously never missed a single day in the 15 years that he has worked at that company. As the clerk suggests when he shows up at Gregor’s place to determine the reason behind his absence. When the clerk is told that Gregor is feeling ill he demands to hear the excuse from Gregor himself but he is unable to speak, or at least communicate other than in an ‘unhumanlike’ way.

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After the threatening appearance form the clerk, Gregor’s father sends for a ‘doctor’ and a ‘locksmith. He the author tries to show us the means by which Gregor’s father is trying to deal with the Gregor’s situation that he has yet to be properly acquainted with. Meanwhile Gregor tries to open the door which proves to be an arduous task given that he trying to open it using his mouth. When the door finally open which Gregor harms himself in the process of achieving the clerk tries to take off after seeing Gregor in his ‘condition’, his mother is in shock and the father is devastated.

Gregor tries to speak to the clerk realizing now that the clerk shouldn’t have sees him like that. When Gregor tries to approach the clerk his father stops him by forcing him back into his room. Grete, his sister takes care of Gregor by letting him have rotten food (which now Gregor enjoys) and moving the furniture in his room to let Gregor have space to move around and get used to his new body. Over time the lifestyle of his family changes due to the fact that he was their only earning source. We don’t get to read much about it in detail but Gregor and his father have a strained relationship that can be seem from the cruel disposition that Gregor’s father has towards him.

The family itself faces several changes such as the father taking up a job in the bank, the  mother stitching undergarments and Grete attending school to learn shorthand and french. The family rents its rooms to three gentleman that have been problematic lodgers but are an added source of much needed income.

Grete’s violin playing is introduced as an abandoned hobby that one day she decides to take up again. Whens he plays the violin the lodgers want to her it as well. Gregor when he hears the music leave his room to get closer to his sister so he can let her know he appreciates her playing but this results in the lodgers finding out the ‘creature’ in the house. The family are given a notice by lodgers of their decision to leave as well as refusal to pay for the time they have already spent.

Grete protests and says she wants to get rid of Gregor the ‘monster’ so that the family could live in peace. Her father agrees and Gregor wishes that he should die as well if it would make his family’s lives easier. Later that night Gregor dies and his death is a mysterious one as he is found shriveled by the charwoman. There is a really sad ending to the story with Gregor dying for the sake of his family same as he has lived for the sake of his family.

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Gregor’s family is depicted as selfish people who revert to seeing him as a burden as soon as he transforms and is no longer able to support them financially. We see that every member of his family is able to earn and contribute to the family’s finances yet Gregor took it solely upon himself to support his family and work tirelessly to the extent that he sacrificed his own life for theirs. We see their despicable behavior towards him from the fact that they barely sympathize with Gregor’s situation and are unable to stand the embarrassment of his situation and how it interrupts their lifestyles. We also see that their entire response towards Gregor’s situation was confining him to his room, not looking for a cure or a solution to his problem.

The metamorphosis is very insightful regarding the exploitation that people face from their own families. Gregor Samsa’s transformation can be considered a hyperbolic depiction of his mental decline due to the hectic hours he worked for his family’s livelihood.

The story in general is sad, it shows us the brutal reality of how people treat you when you are no longer an asset but a liability. While reading it you might wonder how the entire story revolves around the consequences of a man turning into an insect over night but no one mentions how or why this happens. Gregor is the altruistic symbol in contrast to his selfish family.

 “The more meekly he behaved, the harder his father stamped.” Franz Kafka , Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a strange book, one you might even enjoy reading. It is hard to understand what exactly the moral here is besides not being too selfless with anyone, even your family.

Let me know your thoughts on this book in the comments below.

Momina Arif.

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Bookstagram 101

You’d be interested in finding out what exactly is a bookstagram if you are a book enthusiast, a writer, a blogger under the book-blogging niche or just someone who has been swept off of their feet by the obnoxiously beautiful images of books on Instagram   You also might have followed a certain tag to see more of these tempting images. This post will show you why you should even bother with bookstgraming. What is there to gain? How to become an A-list bookstgramer, what bookstgramers to follow for inspiration, and lastly bookstgraming hacks to make your life easier.

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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – A review. #PrideMonth

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy  is the ultimate pick for Pride Month and it will take you places. It starts from the old Delhi, a time before Coca Cola had laid siege to the Roofafza empire. We meet Aftab when he is just a boy with a beautiful voice and a dream to change. The story takes us to a war-torn Kashmir that declares ‘normalcy’ over pools of blood and it walks us through a reminiscent India where it is luck to have been born a Hijra (Transgender) , but bad luck to have been born a Muslim.

Anjum, formerly known as Aftab now lives in a graveyard that she over the years extends the boundaries of and strategically constructs into her own ‘Jannat Guesthouse ’. One day she finds a baby left on her pavement along with puppies and it seems her dream to become a mother has come true. She is without any doubt the most vibrant of all the characters. A combination of dark humor, sensitivity and sharp edges knotted into something unique. Anjum isn’t a typical, victimized transgender character that we come across because she has an added streak of authority and dominance. This gives new and impressive dimension to the community she represents.

We come to know her hand-picked guests as well: Tilottama, puts us at a lack of words in her description as she impersonates being nothing so easily. She is retold as an emptiness that three different men who love her have to come to terms with. Many believe this Architect turned freedom fighter is written in Roy’s own reflection.  We also meet Saddam Hussain, a vengeful dalit waiting for the opportunity to avenge his father death who was a victim of the Gujrat Massacre, something him and Anjum have in common. Unlike many that requested entrance and were shunned away, Saddam Hussain is granted entrance to Jannat Guesthouse and he become one of Anjum’s closest friends.

Speaking of Prose and the writing technique I feel a sense of relief having already read A god of small things as it makes you accustomed to the chain of events that Roy never delivers in the form of a actual chain. Indeed the book doesn’t follow a traditional plot system. As you read you already know how it ends and what brought the characters to that particular end or where it started.  The plot is woven with confidence that reflects in the personalities of the characters and demonstrates Roy’s impeccable craft.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a tragedy, a love story and yet it has an ending that fills us with hope. It comes off as a loud political statement sometimes and as a historical retelling at other times. It speaks of loneliness of these characters and yet the endearing company they come to have. The characters are marked with deep loss and profound victories. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness gives us the most flawed and fragile characters that put us in awe of their magnificent, unabashed survival over the course of many years.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is her first take on fiction since A god of Small things which despite its heightened acclaim (and Booker Prize Award), put the author under the unwanted spotlight curated by the image of a pretty face that writes a good piece of illicit romance. She renounced that image with the involvement in the non-fiction world. And after 20 years returned with a book has much of her experiences engraved in it. The book gives us a backdrop of Muslim resistance in Gujrat. It gives the leftovers of the Red Fort and The Khwabgah, surviving on the dreams of a past life as Mughal footnotes. The book moves you to tears with its depiction of the Hijra community which also becomes the most prominent feature of it.  It uses a homeless PhD. and a freedom fighter like stops to catch our breath. The reason why I picked this book for the Pride Month tag is because it is an ode to the marginalized, the minority and the misunderstood.  It is about their struggles that don’t exactly show up on the map but have helped determine the boundaries and the boundless.

Share your thoughts on about this book in the comments below.

 

Momina Arif

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