Friday, 14 June 2013

The voice of reason....

The oral histories of women fascinate me. Women share their lives in ways that are unique because of their willingness to offer insights into their personal worlds that hold both the areas of difficulties as well as those moments of triumph, and they do so with no undue self-consciousness or inhibitions. The struggle of women who resist the straight jackets of conformity are always stories that are the most inspirational; holding anecdotes and parables that have the resonance of strength and courage for all to see.

Amongst my favourites is Maya Angelou an American author and poet who has published seven autobiographies that share her life with an amazingly rich candour. Reading these stories are motivational. They take us through our own labyrinth of life experiences and coax us to ask more pertinent questions, ones that we may sometimes perhaps avoid because of our discomfort to confront what we consider to be difficult. Oral narrative forms are imperative to social histories and hold subtexts that are invaluable and often complex. 

Asian women in particular fascinate me with the extreme worlds that we juggle. In situations of economic difficulties the professional and the domestic space are often so finely meshed together within that clock of 24 hours. And it is done so effortlessly that often the sacrifice and endeavor can sometimes be missed by those who may have perhaps benefitted the most from these tightrope acrobatics of survival. 

My world was thrown open at an early age to the wisdom of learning that came in many instances from the oral lessons of elders. I am drawn to listening to interviews and as a student in England understood my fathers love of the radio. The sound of a voice that rings sharply with the experiences of personal truths is a blanket worth wrapping oneself in. Listening to Nelson Mandela and more recently Aung San Suu kyi in televised interviews speaking so simply yet with such eloquence of their respective journeys to discover political liberation, and as a consequence, personal  liberation too. 

Even today when I open books of Indian miniatures, where visuals that hold my heart are looked at frequently, I hear the voices of Mildred Archer and B.N Goswami come back to me,  as I relive those times one has sat in rapt attention listening to lectures and conversations that gave shape to a world of my personal belonging. Perhaps my most precious memories are those few occasions when I visited my mothers ancestral home as a child, and fell asleep to the sound of the voices of the women sharing stories of their lives together. I never imagined how much I would hold that memory as a personal space of history, to insist  from myself a life that must hold meaning. 

I was gifted a book titled The Cat and the Tao. I love the visuals and didn't pay much attention to the proverbs, till recently. On reading them, this one in particular struck me with its simple relevance:

To know what is going on takes sense;
To know what to do about it takes wisdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment