Friday, April 29, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
First watched the movie before deciding to read the book, which i'd bought some time ago. Most of the time I would say the book is better than the movie but this time, I would say they were comparable. Solomon Northup was a free man in New York in the 1800s and had owned a farm and was also an occasional violinist. During a season when there was little work, he was lured by two sly characters to Washington with the promise of work, where slavery had not been abolished yet. He was kidnapped by the two men and sold as a slave to Louisianna, where he toiled as one for 12 long years. I couldn't believe how such outrageous acts could have been committed and how this singular event could change one man's life in the most unbelievable way. For 12 years, Solomon northup toiled in cotton fields, sugar cane plantation, etc with little food, daily whipping, and at one time, almost hung to death. Despite his sufferings, it seemed to the reader that he felt a sense of empathy and understanding toward his white enslavers. He said that he didn't blame them for not being able to see the injustice of slavery, for the belief that slavery was the norm had been inculcated in them for generations. Even in the most kind-hearted of men, they were blinded to the "wrong-ness" of slavery. We see in Solomon's story how easy it is for us to take for granted what is "right" without questioning simply because it was something that had been done for generations and is deemed as a way of life by society. Bass, the man responsible for Solomon's release, spoke out against slavery and was deemed an eccentric. He said that God created all men equal, therefore what right has one man over the other, to treat him as an inferior?
It was a very simple argument and yet, no one wanted to believe in it and brushed it off as hogwash.
Bass went out of his way to help Solomon and I think Solomon was truly blessed to have many others who were concerned enough for his welfare to do something. Henry Northup, his father's employer's son, eventually managed to save him out of slavery. It was a wonderful "ending" or is it? In the preface we read that Solomon began giving lectures that spoke against slavery and shared stories of his enslavement. It was also mentioned however, that a few years later, nothing could be found on this man, that he was not recorded in the censure. We could only hope no harm was done to him although it does seem likely that he could have been killed by those who were for slavery.
With weary eyes I look at you
You know, I am tired to the bones.
Running after you for so long,
To you, I never meant a dime,
And you will never give me
The time of day,
When all I've ever asked of you,
Was a song.
You depart with a friendly smile,
But you have left a storm behind.
I watch the dark clouds gather
And hear the sound of my own heart
Breaking like the claps of thunder.
I am cold to the bones,
Shivering and quivering under the bitterness of the rain.
Perhaps one day I will not remember your face,
Perhaps one day I would find myself again,
The one who was lost amidst the flurry of your words,
The one who had believed in you.
My heart was once pure and true,
Only now I've come to understand,
That I was played for a fool.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Saturday, April 16, 2016
I remembered watching half of the movie and got bored. It's been happening a lot to me these days; the same thing happened when i watched unbroken before reading the book. Given that I'd found the movie boring, I'm not sure why I eventually bought the book. The book as always is much better than the movie. Two passages made me cry and the rest of the chapters just left me awe-struck. The first passage that made me cry was when Cheryl knowing that her mother was going to die anytime (after being diagnosed with lung cancer a month earlier) soon left the hospital to bring her brother Lief to see her. When they finally returned, the curtains around her mother's bed were drawn. She drew the curtains and saw that ice packs were placed over her mother's eyes as she had donated her cornea. They had arrived too late.
The next passage was when they had to put down Cheryl's mom's horse as she was getting on in age and suffering. Having no money, Cheryl couldn't afford to have a vet euthanize the horse so they chose to shoot the horse. She thought it would be a clean shot, that the horse would die immediately but it wasn't so. After being shot thrice, Lady the horse struggled and died a slow torturous death. Cheryl was mad with grief. I would too.
I was awestruck by her courage and determination to complete the trail she had planned on doing, even though she had no hiking experience and had come to the trail unprepared. Most hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail had spent months and almost a year to prepare themselves for the trip. She didn't. One also gets the sense that she'd been very lucky that nothing bad had happened to her during the entire 3-month hike. It was a dangerous thing to do, to go on a solo hike on unfamiliar terrains, especially the Mojave desert.
Feeling inspired by the book, I went on to the PCT webpage and read that there was a long list of hikers who had completed the entire trail, running from Mexico to Canada and that a typical trip would last for 6 months and cost between 4-8000 usd. I can't imagine living 6 months in the wilderness. I then searched for more palatable trails and made a mental note that if I ever returned to the US, I would do the Oregon or California section.
I kinda understood when Cheryl said that even though it had not been necessary to sleep in a tent, being in an enclosed area gave one a sense of comfort and safety. It's funny when you consider this. One of the reasons to be in the wilderness, is to feel that great expanse, to be in all that space and to get away from the crowded, concrete jungle, and yet, being in a tiny space, even if it's just a thin sheet of material between us and the wilderness, gives us a sense of security. I really am curious as to how it feels like to be completely isolated from the world and hiking alone. Will one go crazy without seeing another human being for a long time? Or will find some kind of inner peace? For Cheryl, the solitude and the wild healed her broken-ness and I whole heartedly believe too that nature has the power to break you and heal you.
The book is definitely worth the while to read although I would rate it a little below Unbroken. 8-16 April 2016
Perhaps just a glimpse will do,
Perhaps then, I will tell you the truth.
All the things that you need to know
All the secrets that have never been told.
The years have made me older
But they have not made me bolder.
My heart, it is still troubled,
Sometimes I think, it has turned colder.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
I'd planned so much to do today
But you see, the tears they cloud my eyes,
And couldn't remember the reason
Why I cried.
There are so many secrets that I keep
And you, miles away,
You couldn't hear me weep,
The seasons will change
But me, I remain forever fettered
To the cold, dreary darkness.