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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, December 02, 2005


I rarely buy books, because The Book Thing has me so spoiled, but the other day when I was in the airport, I had this overwhelming urge to spend money on something, and I figured a book was a good investment. I don't like fluffy books, so I spent a bit of time roaming the book store at the airport trying to find a good one, and I came across "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri. I have read other Indian writers, and always found them to be extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking, and even more appealing, they manage to show a positive outlook without the ending having to turn out happily ever after. All these things were encapsulated in "The Namesake." I always think it's cool when reading books across my own culture, to see how some themes are so universal. The struggle for self, for home, for meaning in life. And of course, the search for love. The book was excellent, I highly recommend it. One passage particularly struck me. One of the characters, a young Indian woman describes falling for her husband, also Indian as such:

He was not who she saw herself ending up with, he has never been that person. Perhaps for those very reasons, in those early months, being with him, falling in love with him, doing precisely what had been expected of her for her entire life, had felt forbidden, wildly transgressive, a breach of her own instinctive will.

It's interesting to me, because for her, doing what is expected is rebelling against herself. I know that feeling sometimes. I get so used to not doing what the crowd is doing, not following along, fitting in, that once in a while I want to do exactly what everyone else is doing, just to change things up a little. To rebel against what I have gotten used to myself being. Because to continue would be predictable. The problem is, and this is shown in the book, when you rebel against yourself, you aren't being true to who you are, and it doesn't last. It just isn't quite right. And the repercussions of rebelling against yourself are often worse than rebelling against others. I do the rebellious thing in many ways. In my refusal to care what others think, in my refusal to be a follower, in the childish way that I, on occasion, do exactly what I know others don't want me to do, just to show them that I can, that I will make decisions for myself. (Hey, at least I admit it's childish.) But I think the illustration that "The Namesake" shows, of a woman rebelling against her own instincts, is the scariest rebellion. Because not only does it end up leading to paths that aren't really you, it leads to then rebelling against those decisions as well. And the spiral never ends... I can't say that I will ever let go of my rebelliousness, I think it's a part of who I am. But I can strive to be true to myself. Even if that means being predictable in my rebelliousness.


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