Tag Archives: Life

The Story Begins on a Winter’s Night

Everything has already begun before, the first line of the first page of every novel refers to something that has already happened outside the book. Or else the real story is the one that begins ten or a hundred pages further on, and everything that precedes it is only a prologue.

These lines written by Italo Calvino, in his novel ‘If on a Winter’s Night A Traveller‘ is only the reflection of what we feel and how we behave in our day to day lives. Aren’t we all an actor living a set script on the stage of life?! This is the story of a reader which goes on to become the protagonist of the intertwining plots and changing stories. This protagonist represents every such reader who picks up this novel only to find that this book is about him. Is it a strategy of the writer to confuse the reader, Calvino asks, or is it just a ploy to hook the reader into the book?

He creates situations where a part of reader’s life gets invested into the story and before any of you knows, you are running behind the fragments of the beginnings and the desire to find the remaining parts of the stor(ies)y of which you have become a part. You are given many beginnings but at the end of each chapter you become restless to find that you have been played with again and that there is no end to this search. Photo Courtesy: @Ahranya

The lives of individuals of the human race form a constant plot, in which every attempt to isolate one piece of living that has a meaning separate from the rest – for example, the meeting of two people, which will become decisive for both – must bear in mind that each of two brings with himself a texture of events, environments, other people, and that from the meeting, in turn, other stories will be derived which will break off from their common story.

So, there is a writer who is struggling to get his writing style back while suffering from the paradox of readers’ expectations, and a conspirator who is stealing stories and transporting them to different places, as well as an autocratic government which has decided to banish all the books of the world but still keeps a library of them. Among all these characters and plots, you are the thread which is taking the story further. But still the climax is nowhere in sight, it is like a mirage created in a desert which makes itself appear when you are losing hope, but just as when you are about to touch it, it vanishes again. There are no endings, there are only the beginnings which keep intersecting the other beginnings which ultimately make a single story.

The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.

It is you who will write the climax, either chose the continuity or face the extinction. So do you chose the continuity??



Picture Courtesy: Ahranya© (The cover of ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’, Italo Calvino. Published by Random House under Vintage Classics) 


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Filed under Classics, Fiction, Literature, Novel

The Mandela Story

What one finds in the Mandela story is the strong persistence for human rights and belief in the equality of all irrespective of their color, language or culture. Reading through Long Walk to Freedom, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, one finds several passages and pages marveling with sheer persistence and power of determination that we as humans are capable of.
The majority of this autobiography was written, while Mandela was still in prison and was published in 1994 by Little, Brown Book Group.


In the final chapter of his autobiography, the 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace winner, Mandela writes,

I never lost hope that this great transformation will occur…I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there was mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

May be this was the power of hope that kept Mandela’s faith in the struggle against apartheid. He spent about 27 years in prison but that did not break his spirit nor did it lessen his belief in humanity. He writes,

Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

The autobiography also depicts not only the freedom struggle of the black and colored people of South Africa, but the sacrifices that the freedom fighters had to make in order to bring that much awaited equality of life and opportunity to all. They sacrificed the normality of life in which a person can enjoy the smallest of pleasures that life brings such as living with one’s family. Those who chose the path of struggle, sacrificed their personal lives and were

forced to live a life apart, a twilight existence of secrecy and rebellion.

Mandela’s story is a reminder that to achieve something worthwhile you have to pay the price for it. Freedom to live life the way one chooses is a basic necessity which is the first step in the direction to the philosophy of live and let live. Mandela realized this, when he wrote,

…to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others…

Those who seek freedom, have to keep walking in the direction where they can cast off the shackles of “hatred, prejudice and narrow mindedness” and become truly free.


Picture Courtesy: Ahranya© (Cover of ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Published by: hachette India)  


Filed under Autobiography, Historical, Non-fiction