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13th June 1999

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Dear DaughterLearning to let go

My darling daughter,

I am sure you can guess who said this to me, 'It is difficult to think that from next week Shanti will be Anil's wife, she will not be living here with me and I will no longer be the centre of her life.' Yes, it was none other than Aunty Nirmala who was in a very sad mood and came to meet me, feeling perhaps that I would sympathize with her.

Shanti has always been the pivot around whom Aunty Nirmala's life revolved. It is not that she resents Shanti getting married, in fact she welcomes the idea, but the thought of living alone, knowing that now to Shanti there will be different priorities makes her sad and unhappy. She feels so much alone now. I could understand her feelings. It was in a sense similar to what I felt when you went abroad. It is so difficult to 'let go' and yet it is so necessary.

I think, in a way, a mother learns it first when the baby she cuddled and protected takes his first steps - for with those first fumbling steps he learns the process of moving away. Then as the child grows older, the mother ceases to be the centre of his little world, he seeks other friends and has other interests and each step that makes the child independent requires a 'letting go'. How much we long to keep the child with us, protecting and caring for him, but yet for the sake of the child we have to learn to 'let go'.

There comes a time when to 'let go' seems so difficult, when children embark on a career of their own, get married, leave home and move out of our lives. We long so much to keep them back, often we even think of our love for them as a sacrifice and try to hold them back by means of a gratitude that we impose on them. But that is wrong, daughter. I do not think what any parent does for a child is done through a notion of sacrifice. It is done because love desires it and it is unfair to demand from any child gratitude as a means of preventing that child from moving away.

I often think, daughter 'to let go' expresses the greatest gift of love, for you are freeing the other, allowing him to find his own way unshackled by the bonds of a possessive love.

It is difficult, as I told Aunty Nirmala, but it is the only way to show that whatever we did was done through a love that did not take into account oneself and therefore we are not expecting gratitude as a return. I am sure that though Shanti is leaving to get married, yet she will not forget all that Aunty Nirmala has done for her, and she will be always there to help.

Do you agree with the thoughts I have written about 'letting go'. I think even in a marriage it is important. One cannot totally possess another. One has to 'let go' for as has been said, a bird that is caged will struggle to be free. Let me know what you think, for often I wonder whether my thoughts to you are acceptable in this world of yours.


The Culture Vulture

Lazy Sunday

It's Sunday and it's a lazy one; you know the type of Sunday after a huge Saturday out when you wake up feeling awful and just feel like vegging out and chilling out. Here's how to do it:

Choose the right ambience

Set and setting is important. Today I have chosen my bedroom, which is quite cosy by itself and made even more so by the fact that I have shut the windows and drawn the curtains. An important point to note here is that in addition to closing the windows and drawing the curtains I have also got my air conditioner going at "high cool" and have the fan on a low speed to circulate the air conditioning.

Choose the right room mate

This is where your lazy Sunday bifurcates down the trouser legs of alternate realities. You could choose to share your air conditioned room with someone "special". This is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon but chances are it would cease to be lazy after very long!

You could choose a pal of some description. This is also nice but would mean that your lazy Sunday ends up in a long chat.

You could choose an inanimate object, just for silent company. Today I chose my black Labrador dog. I know dogs are not generally inanimate objects but my pooch is great company for a lazy Sunday as all he does is lie there wallowing in the cool air within stroking distance should the need arise.

You could choose to be entirely alone and this is also very nice (except if you're schizophrenic in which case you might end up having a long chat with yourselves) and a perfectly valid choice it is too.

Choose Music

Lazy Sunday relaxing requires soothing music - a veritable ointment for the aural senses. Metallica is a no-no as is any number of rap bands, pop singers and The Gypsies. Oh, and for the sake of all things holy, please do not choose Pat Boone as the damage to your soul would far outweigh anything your eardrums may feel.

I choose a mix of classic classical and classic Bristol trip hop for my Sunday chill out today. At the moment, a compilation CD of classical pieces such as Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", Bach's "Violin Concerto no 1" and Mozart's "Piano Concert no 24" is gently caressing my ears and soothing fragile synapses.

I also plan on playing all three Massive Attack albums, Mozart's requiem (great for Sunday afternoon napping) and Portishead's seminal CD "Dummy". Trip hop is in many ways the modern equivalent of classic jazz as purveyed by the Angel of Harlem - Billie Holiday - and other divas such as Nina Simone. The music is heady and full of atmosphere - a mixture of slowed down acid jazz, pared down jungle, blissed out reggae and plenty of electronic bloops and beeps. The vocals are either smoky jazz - Massive Attack have worked with Shara Nelson, Elizabeth Fraser and Tracey Thorn (from Everything But The Girl) whilst Portishead's Beth Gibbons is Billie Holiday reincarnate - or mellow rap; the result is a unique sound.

Choose Snacks

Snacking is an essential part of lazy Sunday relaxation. Sweet or savoury - the choice is really yours alone. I am usually partial to peanut M&Ms and coffee - dark as sin with a hint of milk and no sugar, honey...but today I'm content to guzzle ice cold Coca Cola (sorry, not a product endorsement, but I detest Pepsi) out of a pewter tankard. Pringles ranch flavour potato crisps are also a good choice and devilled peanuts are hard to beat. The only rule where snacking is concerned is that the food and the drink should not both be sweet as your teeth would surely rot, so they would.


Reading is good for one's chi anyway but reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon whilst tucked up in bed and snacking is this Vulture's definition of what the afterlife ought to be like.

It is preferable to choose something light to read on a lazy Sunday, but if you'd prefer to read the collected works of Kafka, go right ahead babe, we're nothing if not accommodating round these parts.

I am currently reading Stephen King's "Wizard and Glass".

(This brings me on to another relatively little known pleasure, re-reading. I have read Wizard and Glass before but I find that I am enjoying the re-read more than I did the original read. I think the reason for this is that the first time one reads a novel by someone like Stephen King one is usually in an almighty rush to get to the end and find just what is going to happen...sort of like bombing down the Galle Road at 170km per hour in order to get to Unawatuna and get off the road. As a result though, one fails to stop and admire the scenery along the way. Re-reading lets one wander off the path and delve into the half-hidden nooks and crannies of a good book, doubling one's enjoyment).

By the way, I have King's brand new novel "The Girl who loved Tom Gordon" squirreled away on my bookshelf and a review is promised as soon as I read it.

Anyway, back to "Wizard and Glass". Not only is this a cracking book in its own right, but it is also the fourth instalment in a series called "The Dark Tower". Not only is the Dark Tower series most excellent in itself, it is also fundamentally amazing as it has been written over a period of 28 years and is still not completed. Stephen King wrote the first book in the series - "The Gunslinger" - in 1970 when he was a penniless post-grad with long hair and a hairy face. He wrote Wizard and Glass in 1998 as the world's premier "schlockmeister". What is fundamentally amazing about this is the fact that each instalment has picked up perfectly where the previous one left off. The continuity is spot on and the characters are exactly as King started writing them.

Writing one story over such a span of pages and time is that it gives the writer a great deal of room in which to manoeuvre with his characterisation. Stephen King does just that, and his central characters are developed tremendously throughout the four books.

"The Dark Tower" series is inspired by Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came". In the poem Childe Rolande goes in search of the Elf lord's Dark Tower to liberate his kidnapped sister. In this tale, the hero Roland is "A Gunslinger" - a sort of knight in a parallel Earth that has "moved on" beyond the age of technology and gone round the wheel to a more basic and mystical age. Roland is on a quest to find the Dark Tower. He does not know what it is nor why he seeks it, but he does so in pursuit of Walter - the man in black - a magician of great power and perhaps a doppelganger of our own Earth's Merlin.

In the first book Roland catches up with Walter and kills him. Along the way he meets a young boy from our world - Jake - who dies under the wheels of a cadillac in 1977, only to wake up in Roland's Earth.

In the second book "The Drawing of the Three" Roland draws two more our-worlders to aid him in his quest; Eddie a heroin junk-monkey from 1987 and Odetta,a rich schizophrenic socialite from 1968. All three of Roland's band are from New York, and it seems that the key to the Dark Tower may lie in an empty lot in downtown NYC. The third book, "The Waste Lands" adds a sinister twist to the children's story "Charlie the Choo Choo" of all things, and in the fourth instalment King even incorporates fragments from the Wizard of Oz.

Stephen King says that there are at least three more books to come in the series and it is very much a part of the myth of the tale that the author himself has no idea how or when it is going to end. Having read all four books at various stages, I decided to re-read them, one after the other. (People ask me how I find the time to read so much; the answer my deahs, is that I don't sleep...) and am now happily lost in Roland's Earth and this story that is part western, part fantasy and part science-fiction.

So that's my lazy Sunday sorted. Alternates include stretching out on a sofa watching the cricket and just forgetting all of the above and going to sleep.

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