(A review of ‘The Driver’s seat’ a novel by Muriel SparkFirst written on August 16, 2018) A kind of novella that spends more time in your mind than on the page. Spark does it brilliantly by working under-the-hood. It is no spoiler that it is all about Lise executing her plan to kill herself. And so it is “it’s a whydunnit in q-sharp major and it has a message: never talk to the sort of girls that you wouldn’t leave lying about in your drawing-room for the servants to pick up.” – the lines Lise used to describe the last book she read. But the why never gets answered clearly. Elizabeth Taylor in cinematic adoption of The Driver’s Seat By the end, we get clear clues that she must have suffered some psychological problems. And mental illness can describe her problems and one can easily dismiss it at that, but from Shakespeare to Plath to Gogol to Grass to Han Kang, writers have long held habit of putting methods in madness. I will forward two theories, not mutually exclusive. Suicides, especially those who have been planning to kill themselves for a long time, tend to be dramatic (think ’13 reasons
(A short fiction by Sidharth VardhanFebruary 17, 2018) 51.I think of death as a friend. I told you how mere thought of killing myself makes it easier to go through troublesome nights. And ain’t it a sign of good friend? That mere idea of meeting her should assure you? I have see my aunt, mother and grandmother suffer miserably. It was their life that had become ugly and not death. Death came like an older friend and took their misery away in a single moment. 52.Perhaps Gaiman is right. You would look at Death and think that you have already met her. She would be that approachable, that friendly. 53.You tell me that there are friends enough in this world. Yes there are. I know that. But their good intentions don’t give results. They just don’t have that kind of powers. Death can end my sufferings in a moment. 54.One of Gaiman’s character Prez, a sort of ideal US president, gets a chance to see different versions of US after death. I wish that would be case with me too. I don’t care for US, India or any other country for that matter. But I do wish to see world’s, all
(A short fiction by Sidharth VardhanAugust 2018) 26.So often one hears people say that everyone who lives must die. I wonder if they ever think about what it implies. That living is dying. That life is a slow poison – arguably the slowest of them all but hardly one with least suffering. On the contrary, one that makes one suffer the most. 27.And there is more truth to the above argument than a mere play at words. Because at some point in our lives, we do become conscious of the presence of this poison in our chest, that makes one suffer like an invisible dragger already deep into our heart – there are so many names for this feeling – the great sadness of life, the existinal crisis, the littleness of our existence, the meaninglessness of whole thing, but whatever you may call it, sooner or later you will feel it. At that point, there are only two honest ways of reacting to the situation – killing oneself or going mad. 28.Most of us though chose to be hypocrites. We chose to live in illusions and lies we build ourselves for it. I’m a hypocrite too, but I guess I
(A short fiction by Sidharth VardhanJune, 2018) 1.I think a lot about dying. Dream about it. But as much as I think of suicide, it is always about how would people feel afterward and rarely the actual incident death, It is somehow difficult to imagine myself dying – dead yes, but not dying, and if I do imagine death, it is rarely causing me suffering – what would be point of dying if I was to suffer through it? I may as well live. 2.There is a girl in my apartment. One of my roommate’s girlfriend. She and my other roommates are joking around. I can’t bring myself to join them. Something keeps me aloof. It ain’t envy or attraction to her. I somehow rarely get attracted to a women. Just as something keeps me from mixing with people in general. In fact, I can rarely feel anything, lesser still the pain. I just can’t bring myself to eat – three days already since I last ear something. I just can’t care – for myself or for others. It is four days and I still don’t know names of any of them. It is as if something is already dead
(Review of ’13 Reasons Why’ A novel by Jay Asher First published in 2007 Review written by Sidharth Vardhan in Novermber 12, 2016) “You don’t need to watch out for me, Clay.” But I did, Hannah. And I wanted to. I could have helped you. But when I tried, you pushed me away. I can almost hear Hannah’s voice speaking my next thought for me. “Then why didn’t you try harder?” And that’s why you can never understand women!
(A short story first written on June 26, 2016) For generations, we have lived in this jail, in this hole – so long that we might as well have imagined that this is the only world, had it not been for the stars, visible in the oval blanket over our head, which show us the glimpse of the unknown worlds. And stars are the hope, every child in this hole is taught to look up towards them and somehow they fill us with this hopeless hope that keeps the life going. But why are they there? Forever there, filling us with temptations to make fruitless efforts to grab them. Are they just another addition to the suffering of this hole? Why were we given hope? Are there better worlds which hope teaches us to look forward to? Or is hope just another part of the punishment? Perhaps it is neither, rather it is the jailer who makes sure we don’t try run away from this hole. And it is successful, isn’t it? After all, how many of us ever try to escape? This hope keeps us from trying to escape.
(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’First written on November 30, 2015) “Only perhaps in our children, in their earliest years, one might find, some remote faint reflection of this beauty.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Do you remember losing that treasured innocence that we were born with? that old childish ‘innocence’ (there might be a better word to describe it, but my vocabulary is poor) – the nausea of which we live with for rest of our lives? We know, or at least we think we know, that it can’t be helped, and we would consider someone a weakling, a divine fool or ridiculous if he or she retained that innocence beyond a certain age. We even laugh at our own foolishness of old days: “They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact, refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility of this happiness in the past, and called it a dream.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Yet, we look at children, ever cheerful, and feel sorry for the loss they are bound to suffer one time or another in their
(Review by Sidharth Vardhan ofDemons by Fyodor Dostoevsky Also translated into English as ‘Possessed’) Wanna start with a 1984 like quote, here is one from ‘Demons’: “‘He suggests a system of spying. Every member of the society spies on the others, and it’s his duty to inform against them. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All are slaves and equal in their slavery. In extreme cases he advocates slander and murder, but the great thing about it is equality. To begin with, the level of education, science, and talents is lowered. A high level of education and science is only possible for great intellects, and they are not wanted. The great intellects have always seized the power and been despots. Great intellects cannot help being despots and they’ve always done more harm than good. They will be banished or put to death. Cicero will have his tongue cut out, Copernicus will have his eyes put out, Shakespeare will be stoned that’s Shigalovism. Slaves are bound to be equal. There has never been either freedom or equality without despotism, but in the herd there is bound to be equality, and that’s Shigalovism!” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Demons) ‘Demons’ kind of