Posted in book review

‘I Belong Here’, by Anita Sethi – Book Review

To tell a story within you is an expression of yourself, an affirmation of your identity, in an expanse of will wielded by the spirit of freedom. Storytelling is, in fact, a way of logotherapy that helps you find meaning in life from your daily tasks to your traumatic experiences by sublimating the pains of the heart to the blessings of the spirit, in the realization of Amore Feti. In this book, Anita Sethi shoehorns her experience of racism in England into a rivetingly ingenious travel memoir in the spectacle of a beautiful natural landscape where she belongs.

Her narrative has a lyrical quality with a poet’s rhythm that reminds me of a Portuguese Fado song. Her words sing her story of an uneasy love relationship with her own country into a continuous fugue of love, betrayal, loneliness, and friendship vested with her experiences with people and nature. It is at once dolorous and enchanting as if to listen to a mysteriously elusive melody hummed by a ghost of a sad maiden who died in brokenheartedness. Yet, this doesn’t mean Sethi is a ghost damsel in distress bemoaning her betrayed love. She is a warrior who chose the pen to vindicate her attacker and other minor offenders of her South Asian ethnicity as a way to overcome her fear and anxiousness, arising from her ashes like Nietzsche’s noble phoenix.

Sethi’s narrative then becomes a eulogy to the natural landscape of Great Britain; she finds an elbow room, a niche, her library of wonder. As Shakespeare pointed out, nature is exempt from public haunt, finds good in everything. It is a grand luxurious spa free of charge to all, although that is not always tainted by the malice of incivility on the part of humans. However, Sethi, in her story, asserts that no one can take away her right to belong in the beauty of nature and the country she regards as a home and proclaims her self-identity by telling her personal story incorporating the words into the images of British mountains and forests, exempting her from a malady of social ills and elevating her to the citizens of the Universe.

The book is an excellent bedtime fellow when you want something thoughtful but not burdened with elements associated with scholarly apparatuses. The narrative is flowing melodiously, and the author’s spirit is within the texts, full of emotions but nuanced in her infatuation with the beauty of British landscapes that provide her with holistic healing power. They say you don’t protect what you don’t care about, and you don’t care what you have not experienced. To appreciate the value of this book doesn’t mean you have to be of a particular ethnicity, gender, or race. As long as you have taste and judgment universal in all humans, especially with a strong sense of empathy and a lover of nature, you will find her story alluringly gripping and feel her pains and loves as if they were your own.

Posted in Miscellany

Toro is back

St. Frances de Sales’s advice, “Have patience with all things but first with yourself.” is no more so than with the three weeks’ heartbreaking ordeal to win back my cat Toro’s trust in me. His traumatic visit to the veterinarian now seems to dissipate across the feline Elysium slowly, or so I want to think. He is not hiding under the bed in my presence, becoming a sweet writing company on my desk once more.

I have recently watched a YouTube that goes viral about an unlikely friendship between a stray cat and a young woman, which makes me think of my relationship with Toro and what it means to build trust between two lives. The woman found a stray tabby cat around her house and began to acquaint him with food. She named him “Tiger,” not least due to his perspicacious tiger stripes and adorable feistiness, giving him a distinct personality and charms that were all the more endearing to the sensitive woman who was also in need of company in her solitude.

Thenceforth, they became complementary to each other for consolation, security, and most of all, love. Tiger is still his feisty self, and the woman is still trying to adjust herself to his whims and caprice. Still, they feel comfortable in their presence and love. The tears welled in the windows of her soul when she said that building trust between two took time and patience. You can’t make someone love you arbitrarily by force. You don’t need a love spell or magic potion to enslave someone into your desire of possessing the body and mind, as the ancient Greeks and Romans used to. Without Psyche, Eros would not/could not have culminated in perfecting the art of love as a primordial god of Love.

Toro is in some way like Tiger: his name means a little tiger in Japanese with his distinctive stripes, and M signature proudly marked on his little forehead. Although not as feisty as Tiger, Toro has a remarkable personality of adventurousness, curiosity, playfulness, and resilience, all affectionately wrapped in his good nature. But I don’t take for granted that wonderful Toro is my cat, and therefore, I deserve his trust and love. Animals, especially pets, also have hearts that pump up the blood and feel the feelings. I regard them as friends, companions to enrich our existential human lives with a touch of sentimentality that we hardly express when we are among our species in fear of being regarded as a sign of weakness. And I am always thrilled to feel his little heart at my feet as a friend.