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Scattered Pearls - "Found Love: Story of a Book"

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Found Love: Story of a Book

 

Dear ‘Fairy Stories’,

I wonder how Enid Blyton would have borne you in the clustered shades of imaginary words and in a string of volatile, fragrant workings of her vigorous, child mind. I wonder where you were, how far you were from the dwindling promises of my fiercely adult world. I wonder if you had withered from my mind in a mad rush, like fallen leaves, as I fled away from the old, dusty bookshelf of my parents’ house. There I was, dying to embrace an urgent, rustling reality, the reality that fairy tales be shown the door now. 

I removed myself, far away from you, in the cold, unfeeling cacophony of growing up. You were my first nighttime companion following the pregnant promises of a winter noon, a gift from a father who had almost always been moody, lost and a runaway horse. On a precious, unusual day during my Christmas holidays, in 1986, you were handed over to me, as I smiled, cupping you with my hands. 

“Hold it, this one is for you”, he said.

In the butterfly-winged world of Enid Blyton, goblins roamed, pixies and fairies soared high above the woods and ponds and spelled magic on little boys and girls.  Talking dolls walked and wreaked havoc, spanking umbrellas fought with dirty old goblins, shy elves peeped in from unseen nooks and corners. I became a sweet, whispering lover listening to their heart, bleeding with the want, the need, the surrendering to the fairy tales. I feasted on the tender skin of the pages and the tapestry of magical words, breathing in the light and smell of the pages. I planted my kisses on the pages, ascending with Chuckle and Ho, with Mr. Hey-there, Mr. Binkie and Tigger, and Splash, the water-pixie to places of no return.  

A nine-year old forced back into the everyday world of homework, math lessons and the deep sea of loneliness, I was tempted to be blown away and adrift in a sweet, kind love of this unreal, concocted world. Your invitation was insane, with no direction and no control. But was far more real and palpable than my real world, where my father never thought of making me sit on his lap, read out your fragile, make-belief world and construct a world of enduring love. Your invite was enticing when my mother shut out the light and the door of our bedroom and I evaporated into thin air with the merrily whistling pixies. I was with ‘The Enchanted Button’ and ‘The Peculiar Boots’, stargazing with the ‘Little Chatterbox Girl’. Each night, these characters ripped me apart. In the mornings, my known world in fragments clattered away, shoving them back into the recesses of my mind like discarded drafts, while your stubborn, unsettling refrain of love played on, stayed with me throughout the day. 

And then, by and by, my eyes, which could speak in volumes with the talking doll, the little boy named James and the pixies that were too good to be true, could not find them in my cold, menacing world any more. In the new twilight zone where puberty played with the silken ripples of a new world, a new knowing, where I was spluttering with impatience and precociousness, the reality of retribution spanked me hard every day, harder than the spanking umbrella that you once taught me to believe in. My father and I were inhabitants under the same roof, drifting poles apart, rattling and rolling in different rooms in our differences. We never read books together in a cherished story corner of the house. He did never have the time to feel how your black-and-white picture postcard world spoke to me in hushed oblivion, blanketed me in its easy, fragile charm. And then, I grew up, forlorn and lost in the maze of my lingering adult world, learning that life was not meant to be a fairy story. 

More than two decades later, I bring you back with me in a different home, in a world where adult chores spill over baby dreams of bliss. Every day, I flip through your old, yellow pages, your brittle cover trampled by time, and pass surreptitious glances at you from time to time when you lay among heaps of other fairy tales and children’s stories that my daughters read. 

Their father reads to them after school, reads to them bedtime stories, the childhood blossoms of their little minds soaking up the pictures, the stories, the memories in little fragmented pieces. They wait together for the day to unfurl its golden leaves and then, drift away, gradually, into the shadowy darkness of the night. I am hushed, settled and low in my bare-bone adult life, nibbling on your residual juices as my hungry hands reach out for your old yellow pages, remembering a hand-written note: “Daddy, 1986.” 

I reach out to touch the urgency of his voice in long-distance phone calls, trembling and lost across continents, while the unsung lullabies of my childhood hover around us like a hushed fog. We breathe in and breathe out words, recycled, casual exchanges, where my childhood is a sunken debris thrown into the ocean of lost times. In my palms, his gift, your papered world of dreams is resting for a while, from which I would pick up shreds of my dream, unknowingly, and become a child, housing a burnt out, squashed childhood dream all over again. 

Your long-lost partner.

 

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About the author : Lopa is a freelance writer, poet, blogger, wife and mother of two beautiful girls, Srobona and Sharanya. She is also in her final year of studying creative nonfiction writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has just completed her memoir, a book-length collection of personal essays and stories on her childhood, motherhood and her internal journey titled 'Thwarted Escape: A Journey of Migrant Trails and Returns'. Besides, she writes poetry, reads classic, romantic and post-colonial poets as intimate voices that echo her own helplessness, pain and anguish.
 

About her column : "What are words, anyway? They were there, my first milky blabbering's that delighted my parents, they were there, my first attempt to construct a sentence with meaning, they were there, in every step of my way, in my rhetorical journey to womanhood. Like scattered pearls, I have collected them, internalized them, nurtured them and put them down on paper, in my quest to understand the tapestry of creation. With these scattered pearls, today, I contemplate and reminisce, with them I have come to know of my little moments of epiphany which I may share with you in this little space. They have remained with me all the way, while growing up in the outskirts of Kolkata, India with my small family, as I witnessed the world in its simple, every day paraphernalia. They have chased me every day, as I have passionately sought my creative forces and the true significance of my femininity. Today, working my way as a wordsmith, these scattered pearls are helping me define my self-identity as a writer, an artiste, a partner and a mother every single day. In this column, I will unfurl them, one at a time, for you to discover their truth, beauty and mystery. "

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Matchless innocence of Enid Blyton

"In the butterfly-winged world of Enid Blyton, goblins roamed, pixies and fairies soared high above the woods and ponds and spelled magic on little boys and girls. Talking dolls walked and wreaked havoc, spanking umbrellas fought with dirty old goblins, shy elves peeped in from unseen nooks and corners."

So true! The Famous Five, The Five Findouters, Secret Seven, the sisters of Malory Towers... Enid Blyton took us into a world where we imagined ourselves to be doing all that we could never do - go out into the woods alone in caravans, catch thieves in disguises, live in hostels and play lacrosse (never figured what that game was but it sounded just wow)... ultimately during NCC camp we did try a candlelit midnight feast under blankets in the dormitory (inspired from Malory Towers) and we ended up getting caught and were made to take seven rounds of the huge ground in the chill of late December midnight in our night suits! So much for role playing Enid Blyton :)

Beautifully written Lopa... brought back memories... golden, lively and as fresh and fragrant as ever!

Thank you!!

Thank you so much, Ruby for reading this, and thank you for sharing your beautiful insights about Enid's life I didn't know much about, though I used to be mesmerized by her fictional world. Yes, some things in life are truly ironical and the contexts made them more so, as it is the case of this piece, but today as I have picked up this scattered pearl, I see beauty and sublimity in the loneliness that as a child, I thought, was not something that I deserved. Thank you for appreciating my scattered pearls of this life's amazing and surprising journey!

Much love,
Lopa.

Wistfully yours :)

Did you know Lopa, Enid shared a close, loving relationship with her father, and both savored life enthusiastically together? In the background of this fact it is rather ironical that you chose Enid Blyton to string the scattered pearl that strayed afar in your early childhood…

Your wistfulness can be aptly summed up in Blyton’s own words:

"Dear heart

And soul of a child,

Sing on!"    

 

Thank you so much!!

Thank you so much, dear Pritha, for your wonderfully warm comments! Much loved, and appreciated :)

Hugs,
Lopa.

I read this twice

.. once to relive my childhood and once to understand yours.  And then I ran out of words to express what I felt or am feeling. I guess my dad's absence given his tours didn't leave me with sad memories, maybe because my childish heart always knew he would rather be home if he had a choice but work demanded otherwise.  Books and chocolates from all over the world and then dresses and dolls were always the thoughtful presents and when he was home, I was on his lap or by his side. Seems to make for a warm memory on a cold day.. thanks for rekindling it dear friend..

 

Stay warm and blessed through the holidays.. and yes.. fairies are real.. don't let anytong tell you otherwise.. not even your little ones :)

 

Much love

 

Pritha

Thank you!

Thank you so much, Mona! Much appreciated, and lots of love.

Best,
Lopa.

loved it

This is beautiful writing, the last part about your dad had me in tears, could visualize your cute daughters listening to stories.
Mona