Saturday, December 31, 2016

See you on the other side, Maa


“So, will you miss me?” she asked while quietly pouring water from a small copper vessel on the Lord Krishna idol. She bathed the idol lovingly, as if it was a six-month-old baby in her hands.

I remained quiet, feeling awkward. Instead, I inhaled the delicate smell of sandalwood which had filled the temple room. The rays of the morning sun were streaming in from the glass windows above us. It was a serene November morning.

“I know you won’t. Both of you are useless,” she said, feigning annoyance, her eyes still on the idol in her hands.

“Maa, you are just going away for a week,” I finally said.

“But it’s the first time I am leaving you two,” she said and looked at me from the mirror in front of her, from inside the little temple. I was sitting behind her and avoided her gaze.

“So this is the first time you are visiting Mathura, isn’t it? I am sure you will enjoy it there” I said trying to change the subject.

“Well…,” she said while gently wrapping the Krishna idol with a saffron dress having golden borders, “It’s your Mama’s wedding you know. It will be tough for us to find time to enjoy the city. But we will try.”

She then placed the idol on its proper ‘throne’ inside the temple and picked up Radha, His partner. It was her turn to be bathed now.

“But you two don’t fight the whole time I am gone, okay? Just stay nicely with your brother and the others in the family and do your schoolwork properly. Your class 7 mid-terms will begin in a month,” she stressed.

“I am not the one who fights. It’s he who always…”

“Chiku,” she cut me short, albeit tenderly, “He is your elder brother. He just has a short temper. But he loves you a lot, too.”

“No, he doesn’t. You always take his side…” I said getting annoyed.

She sighed. Placing Radha next to Krishna, she said, “Both of you are the same to me. And if you fight like this, I will never have peace of mind.”

I remained quiet. I felt angry and looked outside the window. The sky was bright blue now.

“You are my Shravan Kumar, na?” she turned around and kindly rubbed my cheeks with her palm.

I did not say anything. But my anger subsided immediately.

“You are my mature son. Promise me you will not fight with your brother. Promise me you will always be with him.”

I did not know what to say and just smiled.

Convinced that I meant well, she turned back to her temple and began tending to her idols.

“I will be glad when this trip is over,” she said while arranging her gods and goddesses with deft precision inside the little temple.

“See, both of you can easily live without me. But I can never live without you two. Never…”


                                                                            **************************************************************


31st December. For most of you this date, obviously, signals the end of the year and gets you into party mode. But for me, it always has meant one thing primarily: my mother’s birthday.  

While our family never really celebrated mother’s birthday as such, I always ensured that I do something special for her at least; howsoever inconsequential it might have been. As a child, I used to draw her cards. Being the artist that I was those days, I would buy a little, white blank card from the stationary store nearby and then draw her something random on the front page: a cute cartoon, a beautiful scenery or the picture of a pretty little girl. I would then find a good poem from somewhere and very stupidly write it on the inside of the card to present it to my mother. She would accept it gleefully and safely keep it in her almirah.  

I continued the card tradition for a long time. Only when I was well into my teens did I ditch it. Maybe I shouldn’t have. But, nevertheless, I did make sure that I always got her something on the 31st December. A deodorant, a showpiece and, later on, a cake would mark her special day. Late into my teens, I remember getting up on the morning of the 31st and going straight to the kitchen, where my mother would usually be. I would disengage her from whatever she would be doing and give her a tight hug while she would giggle like a bashful child.

Even now, while she isn’t anymore in my life, I can never really let December 31st be just a normal end of the year day. And while I do nothing special as such, I always do get a cake in the evening. I never tell my father why exactly I buy it, disguising it under the garb of the end year celebration, and then quietly munch it under the stars, raising a toast to her wherever she is.  


**

10 years is a long time. And it feels weird, surreal rather, that it’s been 10 years this year since my mother passed away. Those days with her…They almost feel like they were from a different life…Of a different time…

Life has obviously changed considerably these past ten years. And it would be a lie to say that it has been all bad. No, in fact, I have had some really fine moments in the past few years. Without sounding too pompous, I think have developed myself for the better, both professionally and as a person, since the time my mother knew me. But I have never forgotten her. I have never let her go…

Yes, I have never let her go. And perhaps it is because of this reason that somehow a few good qualities - or habits to be precise - of my mother have just been imbibed in me. For starters, I have become a stickler for cleanliness: I tuck in my bed sheets tightly and never let anyone crumple it, to the point that people get annoyed; I arrange my clothes and my books very neatly; I relish dusting my room and nitpick if anything is disarranged. I wasn’t like this before but somehow have taken up this trait of hers.

Then, there is another queer habit I have picked up of hers: of watching my father from the balcony as he walks away from the house on the way to his office. I don’t know when I got into this habit, but I just did. So every morning, when he leaves the house to go for work, I stand at the balcony, just in a position so that he doesn’t see me if he turns back, and then watch him walk away right until he disappears past the turning of the lane.

And lastly, I have developed the habit of praying to the sun after taking my bath. My mother, after her bath, would always perform a ‘surya namaskar’ and keep chanting ‘Om Surya Namah’ with utmost dedication. What I do instead, is just close my eyes and imagine her performing the surya namaskar. I visualize her smiling face in my mind and then I pray and imagine myself touching her feet.

Most of the times, I ask her to take care of my father and my brother. At times I pray for a troubled friend as well. I also ask for her forgiveness for not being able to provide her a good life and hope that wherever she is now she is much happier. Most of the times, I just seek her blessings for the most mundane of things: like giving me the strength to complete an article or some other writing I am working on. I plead her to bless me so that I keep negativity off my life and continue working hard and develop myself further; that I can become a better person and learn to take care of my father.

I have been doing this every single day since my mother passed away and have never given up on the practice. Suffice to say, it’s something that I look forward to doing every day as I find the exercise quite therapeutic.

Because it’s just nice to think that someone is watching over us…Taking care of us…Isn’t it?


**

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if my mother would have been alive and healthy today.

When she passed away, I was 20 and never really got the opportunity to buy her something from my own earnings. That is the one thing I imagine myself doing plenty of times. I envisage moments like me taking her to a great vegetarian restaurant or for shopping in a swanky mall.

I would surely have shown her my published articles and would have read out many of the stories I have written. I am certain she must have been pleasantly surprised as she never really had known that I had a knack for writing back then.

I would also have taken her to the theaters for new movies and would have given her a big collection of all her favourite songs which she could listen to all day – things which she relished a lot but couldn’t do much in the later part of her life. 

I have heard and read in several places that there is an alternate dimension out there; an alternate reality in a different timeline which has the same versions of us but with some minor differences. I wonder if this alternate dimension has my version as well. Perhaps in that timeline, my mother would be alive, healthy and happy. And even at this precise moment, I would possibly be sitting behind her in our temple room, my head resting on the back of her shoulders, listening to her chant “Shri Krishna Sharanam Mamah” rhythmically and with all her devotion. 

It's a nice, comforting feeling, really. 


**

The uncomfortable truth that I am unable to openly say or share with anyone is that I have never really been able to get over my mother’s death. Her last few days at the hospital, where her body had completely transformed for the worst, and where she suffered horribly, keep haunting me from time to time. They gnaw at my insides at the most unexpected time…They cling on to my soul like a morbid virus hell-bent on destroying my inner being completely. 

I see her in my dreams, fairly regularly. Most of the times, I see myself with her from some moment of our past where she is talking to me all hale and hearty. But in the back of my mind, I know that her time is limited and get panic-stricken. I fear what will happen when I will lose her and how will I face it. The panic and the fear then force me awake, many times at the wee hours of the morning. So terrified I become that I can feel myself gasping for breath and breathing heavily.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to get rid of these disturbing dreams. And they really break my spirit. It feels like losing my mother over and over again.

Yes, I have not been able to get over her death. Not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about her. In fact, she has been omnipresent in my life all these years.

I think of her when something good happens. I recall her fiercely when things aren’t going well. There are moments when I imagine her voice: chiding me for not wiping the table clean after completing dinner; laughing with me when I am watching some of her old favourite television comedy shows; clapping with me when India is winning a tense cricket match.

And then there is also the pain. When I look at my father sometimes, sitting or eating alone, my heart just breaks into a million little pieces. He is a simple man, my father. And I feel helpless at times wondering what he must be thinking. What he must be going through each day without the company of his lost life partner. I never ask him. I wish I could.

I also wish I could stop thinking about all this. But I can’t. I think of my mother. And how she wanted to live. About how her dreams and aspirations were taken away. I think of her zeal for life and how it was cruelly cut short.

I think and I think and I think. And there is a hole in my heart so big…I feel it will never be…healed…


**

I have spent years trying to decipher why exactly was my mother taken from me. Why did such an honest, sincere, kind and loving woman meet such a cruel end? But I never got any answers. Because there aren’t any.

The universe works in mysterious ways. Sometimes there’s no reason why things happen. They just do.

Bad things sometimes happen to good people…Lives are taken from this world with seemingly no reason…It’s all part of the mysteries of the box we wish we could see inside...But cannot…

All I wish to do now is to learn to follow on some of her traits. My mother had a passion for life. She was kind and giving. She was innocent, pure and vivacious. And even while living in the most adverse of circumstances, she learned to be happy and cheerful. Of the several things that I admire her for, the one thing that has stuck is that she found a way to be the best of herself all through her life. There’s a lesson right there for me.

I know now that I will perhaps never be able to come to terms with my mother’s death. But if I really want to honour my mother’s memory, I should imbibe her best facet: Of being the best I can be of myself.

I don’t know whether I will be extremely successful or if my name will ever hold any prominence. But I can certainly try to be the best of myself – as a professional and as a human.  

My mother has driven me these past ten years and I know her presence will be my guiding light for the rest of my existence. I shall prepare myself in the interim for my final meeting with her.

And until that time comes, I shall never let her go…

I shall keep recalling her in my good times and bad…

I shall keep praying to her every single day…

I shall meet her in my dreams…

I shall meet her in my soul…

I will keep her alive through my writings…

But I will never let her go…

And when I finally do meet her again, I would hope that she sees me not just with love but with pride as well. I want her to be pleasantly surprised with what I would have done with myself as a person.

I will also tell her, without feeling awkward or hesitant this time, that I do miss her.

I will tell her that I too can’t live without her…

Because in the end, all that will remain of me is the love she gave me and what I made of it.

And so, I will strive…From here on in, everything will lead towards that final encounter.

I couldn’t make her proud of me while she was here. But I promise that it will not be the case when we meet again.

Yes, we will meet again. I have somehow known this for a long time now. Because I know that I deserve another chance with her. It is my destiny… It is my karma…

So keep smiling, wherever you are. Keep blessing me, where you are. I will need you. Always...I will live for you...Always...

And...One day, finally... 

I will see you on the other side, Maa…I will see you on the other side…



***************************************************************************************************************************************************



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Mother – A Short Story

(Writing a short story, that isn't influenced or related to events of my life, after quite a long time. Incidentally, the last one I wrote - about 10 years back - had the same title and was also about a wild animal. However, the context here is different.  Anyway, it's a fairly simple and uncomplicated story; nothing dramatic or extraordinary. But I really enjoyed writing it and have been inspired to write more such stuff.  Hopefully, some of you will enjoy it.)


She let out a tired sigh; a soft moan of sorts. The pain in her wounded left paw was immense and the broken shoulder of her left leg had sapped her completely. She simply did not have any energy left to even lick her paw anymore.

Laxmi, the lioness, cut a forlorn figure that wintry night at the Gir Sanctuary.

Abandoned by her pack and left to fend for her own, the 13-year-old lioness had not eaten in days and was in pretty bad shape at present. Her frame had become bony and the color of her fur seemed to have degenerated to a pale brownish-grey.

To add to her woes, while trying to desperately hunt down a porcupine this morning, her left paw had been maimed by the rodent’s sharp spikes. She had thought that the little animal would provide a good and easy meal in these desperate times. But instead, the thing had left her badly injured.

And now, she could barely walk.

It was not just the pain in her foot that was bothering her, though. The pain went deep. Within a span of one day, her life had completely capsized.

Laxmi used to be the queen of the Dhari territory of the Gir Sanctuary. Her mate, Bhairav, was the leader of the pride. With a large, flowing mane, a burly frame, and an incisive mind, Bhairav had been overseeing the group for several years. Their pride contained about 30 individuals and all of them respected their leader unwaveringly.



Those were good days. Laxmi used to bask in the glory of being the partner of pride’s chief.  She herself was a terrific hunter and had led the pack on several hunting forays. In her prime, Laxmi had a glowing light brown skin and a pretty sturdy frame. There had been occasions when she had brought down an adult male buffalo almost single-handedly.

About three months back, she had mothered three cubs with Bhairav. Laxmi had been rearing them lovingly and the naughty trio – all of them males – was coming up beautifully. Laxmi loved watching them play around in the sun and scramble up all over her body. She was a doting mother and intended to rear them up as the finest lions of the pride.

But everything changed in that one day. That one, dreadful day.

A fully-grown male lion from the nearby territory had come charging into their pack one morning and caught Bhairav off-guard. The rival lion – with a massive and sinewy build – had come with the clear intention of overthrowing Bhairav and become the leader of the pride.

The entire pack had been shaken unawares but could do nothing. The rival was in his prime and was looking to kill. Bhairav used all his experience and strength to tackle the lion, but the brute was powerfully built and overpowered the leader without much discomfort. With a savage bite of the throat, he brought down Bhairav for good.

But he was not done yet. The leader taken care of, he now wanted to ensure that his offsprings were wiped out as well lest they pose a threat to him down the years.

He was cunning, the rival. He must have been tracking this pride for days and knew well who the children of Bhairav were. The triplets had been cowering behind Laxmi as the rival was viciously taking down their father. Laxmi, who had been paralyzed with fear, now realized that the lion was charging towards her.

She desperately tried to hide her cubs away, but it was too late. The rival sprang up on her from behind and with a fierce swipe from his powerful paw, broke her left shoulder. Laxmi watched in terror as the male lion advanced towards her helpless cubs. They cowered in fear, looking for a way to escape the approaching beast. But the little ones had no chance.

Laxmi tried to lift herself, but couldn’t. The pain in her shoulder was blinding. The last sight she saw was the palpable fear in the eyes of her cubs. They reflected the horror of approaching death. It was a sight that was to be etched in her mind forever.


**


Laxmi sighed sadly as she relived that terrible morning again. The rival had not killed her. He did not consider her a threat. She was just a minor deterrent who he had easily taken care of and now had left her for the dead. But she was not allowed to live in the pride anymore. The new leader had made his intentions clear on that.

After being disbanded from the pride, Laxmi had carried the carcass of her cubs and somehow managed to bury it on a mound of earth. After covering it with some twigs and leaves, she had sat there for a while, watching over the spot, protecting it from scavengers. She growled at a few vultures that had probably sensed the dead animals underneath the earth and were hovering beside it.

After a few hours, she realized it would be a risk staying there as she was badly injured and wouldn’t be able to fight off a pack of hyenas or jackals if they found her in this situation.

Limping away miserably, Laxmi had found a quiet place among a dense growth of bushes on the outskirts of the sanctuary, far away from her last territory, and had been staying here ever since. But the distance had not been able to erase the terror from her mind that she had witnessed there.

Laxmi hated herself for not being able to protect her young ones. And now she had left them alone even in their death. She knew well that perhaps her cubs had been voraciously devoured by vultures and hyenas by now. Laxmi wished that the rival had killed her too instead of forcing her to live such a pitiable existence.

This jungle. Which once made her life so glorious had now turned on her. It had become a cruel place being witness to her unending sufferings.

Sitting under the bush and staring impassively at the moon above, Laxmi feebly attempted to lick her injured paw. She let out a moan again. Almost as if calling out to her cubs. Hoping that they would come scampering at her from behind a bush and clamber up her body again.

Hungry, weary and exhausted, Laxmi closed her eyes. Perhaps knowing that this was the end.


***

A clang woke Laxmi up abruptly. The sun was just about peeping through the skies and the early morning winter air had cast a slight mist. Laxmi wasn’t able to see clearly in the distance through the bushes and the fog, but she could sense some movement. And then she sniffed the air and her ears immediately twitched…It was a human!

Laxmi got up and winced. Her left leg was still very sore. But she endured the pain and slowly moved ahead. The clanging sound was getting nearer and as Laxmi reached the edge of the expanse, at a small clearing, she noticed a little girl beside a well. She was carrying a metal bucket – the source of the clanging noise – to draw water from the well.


Photo courtesy Laurent Baheux 


The little girl had her back to Laxmi and was bent over at present. This presented the perfect opportunity for her to finally make a successful hunt. Laxmi hadn’t ever killed a human. She had noticed them quite a few times at the edge of the forest but had never considered them as food. This, however, was a different situation. She wouldn’t have to strain herself too much here. This was an easy meal. And one that she desperately needed.  

Her feline instincts now took over. She crouched down and ignoring the pain in her leg, gently moved towards the girl, who still had her back to her, without making the slightest sound.

As the lioness was within six feet of the girl, she finally got up on her feet. She was ready to make her move now.

Just then the little girl turned over. Her expressions turned to shock and horror as she noticed the lioness in front of her. The bucket of water slipped from her hands as she let out a shriek and tripped over backward onto the ground.

Laxmi could sense the fear in the girl and swiftly advanced close to her. Her prey was on the ground, inches from her now. Weak and defenseless. The attack was to come any moment.

But it didn’t.

Laxmi looked on at the quivering child, who seemed to be paralyzed with fear. She knew her end was near. Her face trembled. Her eyes widened in terror.

Her eyes… The horror of approaching death was imminent in them…They reminded Laxmi of something. Something she had witnessed recently. Something that will remain carved in her memory for all her existence now.

Laxmi stood rooted to her spot. She then noticed that the girl’s leg was bleeding. She bent over and sniffed it. The girl gasped, and closed her eyes, expecting the lioness to sink her canines into her. But instead, Laxmi gently licked the wound.

The little girl opened her eyes and looked at the lioness in shock. She couldn’t understand what was happening. She stiffened up and clasped her hands tightly. Her brain was going numb.

Laxmi then moved her head up and licked the girl’s face kindly. Almost as if trying to reassure her.

She could now hear some commotion in the distance. It seemed to be a group of humans clamoring and hurtling towards the spot.

Laxmi could have easily grabbed the little girl by her neck like a rag doll and disappeared in the thickets beyond. But she didn’t. She simply moved away from her and turned towards the clump of bushes she had emerged from.

The sound of the group of approaching humans was getting closer now. Laxmi strode near the bushes. But just before entering them, she turned her head to take a final glance at the little girl.

She was still staring at the lioness; dazed and confused. But her eyes…They didn’t reflect any fear anymore. Perhaps they understood.

Satisfied, Laxmi made her way into the thick bushes. Her left leg was still paining horribly. Her hunger pangs were still tormenting her. She had let go of an easy prey. At the cost of her own life, perhaps.

The animal in her desperately wanted that meal. But the mother…The mother simply could not allow it… 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio - A story for a lifetime


“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”


Over the last few years, I had considered writing a book review on several occasions. But somehow, I never quite got the push to do so. ‘Wonder’ has changed all that in one go. It has compelled me to write the first book review of my life. Letting it go, I felt, would have been grave injustice to this incredible piece of literature.  




Plot: The story of ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio revolves around ten-year-old August Pullman who suffers from a rare medical facial deformity, more commonly known as Treacher Collins syndrome. "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse,” is what August says right at the beginning of the story. The author never directly describes the countenance of August’s face – a masterstroke, in my opinion. Through subtle clues across the story, we get to learn more about his craniofacial abnormality.   

Because of his condition, August his homeschooled all his life; until the beginning of this story that is. As the story begins, we learn that August’s medical situation is now stable and hence his parents decide to finally admit him in a proper school. Skeptical at first, August finally agrees to attend school; a decision that turns out to be a life-altering one for August.
Thus begins an eventful, fascinating, endearing, moving, at times heartbreaking but thoroughly charming and inspiring tale.  

As August encounters new people at his school, we see how the kids react to him; some get scared, some laugh behind his back and some are plain rude to him. In fact, the kids at the school create a game called the ‘Plague’ where kids are supposed to catch a “disease” if they touch August. Then there is this bully Julian who, for some reason, dislikes August to the core and goes out of his way to make life even more miserable for him at school than it already is.

Because of this, August is always ultra-alert to how people react to him. August is also very brave and quite friendly and easygoing by nature. He ends up making two friends at school: Summer, a girl who he befriends in the school cafeteria and who likes Auggie for who he is, and Jack, a boy in August’s class. Jack, incidentally, was August’s “assigned” friend and the two share a very interesting friendship through the story which goes through ups and downs.

August also has extremely loving and caring parents and an elder sister who is fiercely supportive of him through and through and patiently understands the myriad emotions he goes through because of his condition. There is also his compassionate headmaster, Mr. Tushman, who realizes what August is going through at school and is one of the few people there who goes out of his way to lend him a helping hand.

Eventually, August finds his place among the school kids – by means of some confrontation and drama at the final stages – and through a stirring and uplifting end gives a heartfelt and universal message : of overcoming intolerance and always choosing to be kind.


What I liked about Wonder


It’s extremely moving, humane and sincere: Although the story does tend to manipulate the readers through varied, and not very subtle emotional situations, it still makes for delightful reading as it touches your heartstrings and is very honest and deft in its presentation. August’s interactions with his family, especially his mother, are very honestly and beautifully captured and so are his moments in school – this part, in fact, should remind a lot of people, in different ways, about their respective school lives. And although the story doesn’t have any thrill or suspense, it has a lot of heart, simplicity, and sincerity in its storytelling. Wonder is a human story at the core and, without being overdramatic or maudlin, tells a very simple tale having valuable life lessons.


Central character worth rooting for: Like any good story, Wonder has a central
character worth rooting for. August Pullman, despite his oddities, is a very likable ten-year-old and does and says things that are very relatable. Although he struggles with his facial deformity and how people react to him at times, but mostly he takes it in his stride and even learns to have fun with it. He is a sensitive, brave and loving kid who takes the insurmountable odds he faces at such a young age quite positively. This makes August worth rooting for.


The alternate POVs: Wonder is not solely told through the voice of August Pullman; although his is definitely the primary one. Through the point of views of different characters, we get to know more about August, his past, his features and his overall character. There is Via, his sister; Summer, his friend at school; Jack, with whom he shares a complicated friendship; Justin, Via’s boyfriend, and Miranda, Via’s ex-best friend who also shares a deep relationship with August. The POVs of these characters are certainly very interesting. I will admit, at first I was unhappy to shift from August’s voice, which I had found so engrossing, to the others. But gradually, the voices of the other narrators grow on you as you learn different shades about Auggie’s life and how the people around him view him. It’s quite enlightening and at times moving.


Perfect underdog, coming-of-age story: August Pullman is the perfect underdog. His facial deformity and the way most people are rude to him makes you want this underdog to succeed against all odds and prove the world wrong.

Also, August’s apprehensions at going to school for the first time, the trials and tribulations he goes through there, and how he comes out shining through it all with some uplifting changes in his life, makes Wonder the perfect coming-of-age story.


Language and style: The one thing that makes Wonder so enjoyable is it’s simple and lucid language and writing style. R.J. Palacio writes in short, simple sentences and never uses grandiloquent words to impress. This style is perfect for this kind of a story. So, August’s narration is written in exactly the manner a 10-year-old’s thought process should be. The other characters that appear in the book, too, speak and think according to their ages. The chapters are not more than 2-3 pages long and the story keeps moving at a swift pace. All this makes reading Wonder an easy and pleasant experience.


Insightful quotes: While Wonder has an extremely moving and engaging story, what I also loved about it was many of its poignant dialogues. I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such an array of simple, wonderful and well-meaning quotes. A few of them which I really loved are these:





"I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives." – August says this when his sister, Via, gets a standing ovation for her performance at the school play. This quote shows Auggie's desire to be appreciated and loved.

"I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we go to see what we looked like under the masks." – this is an insightful thought by August and highlights how he craves to be known for more than his looks, how he desires to lead a normal life.

"If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, wherever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary—the world really would be a better place." – is said by the headmaster Mr. Tushman at the fifth-grade graduation towards the end. Like many of his quotes, this too is extremely thought-provoking, true to life, and inspiring. The essence of these lines actually runs through the novel.

"If it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. And the universe doesn't. It takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see… the universe makes it all even out in the end. The universe takes care of all its birds.” – this is my favourite quote in the book and is said by Justin, Via’s boyfriend who understands how cruel life has been for August and yet he goes on to realize that there are many out there around Auggie, who, through different ways, are taking care of him. It’s a beautiful and touching line.


The Precepts: Apart from these, there are the ‘Percepts’ that stands out in the book. Introduced by August’s English teacher, Mr. Browne, who describes them as “rules about really important things”, the precepts were a sheer masterstroke by Palacio. Mr. Browne asks the students to come up with their own precepts and some of them really left a mark. They are so simple and yet so deep and meaningful that all of us would do well to imply them in our lives; I guess that is what the author intended to do for the younger audience.

Some of the precepts in the book that I really loved are:

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”  —Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Your deeds are your monuments.”—Inscription on an Egyptian tomb

"What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful." —Sappho

"Don't try too hard to be cool. It always shows, and that's uncool.” —Amos Conti

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." —John Wesley’s Rule 


I could relate to August Pullman: Perhaps why I loved the book so much was that I could have a certain sense of relatability with the central character’s trials; though mine wasn’t as extreme. In August’s story, I could find traces of my childhood: being unusually tall all through my school life, I too was often started and pointed at, was ridiculed many a time and could sense people laughing behind my back because of my excessive height. There were moments when I too wished I could have a normal height so that people would stop staring at me. When August says “You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out” I was reminded of my school days and could connect to it instantly.


Conclusion:




Wonder is a story for a lifetime. It is the best book that I have read in a very long time. I can’t recall the last time when I was so touched and was compelled to think about the way I look at certain things in my life by a book.

Wonder truly is a marvelous story that explores some uncomfortable truths about how we humans behave and deftly touches on how we should behave. It has a lot of heart and should be read by everyone. It’s touching, moving, uplifting, inspiring, thought-provokingly beautiful and all very real and genuine. You would be doing yourselves gross injustice if you miss this one out. Read it. It will definitely impact your life in ways you can’t possibly imagine.