Friday, September 30, 2011

Savouring 'The Good Short Life'.

 Please read this only after you go through Adarsh's post 'The Good Short Life.'

Thank you Adarsh for sharing that wonderful homage to life and its meaning. Let us read it again to see the nuts turning inside the great writing which touches our hearts.

“We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?” he asked quietly. He meant to shoot myself with.

“Yes, Sweet Thing,” I said, with a smile. “We do.” 
(See. A conversation always puts you in a place. We want to overhear).

The nerves and muscles pulse and twitch, and progressively, they die. (The action and the sudden crisp death).

From the outside, it looks like the ripple of piano keys in the muscles under my skin. From the inside, it feels like anxious butterflies, trying to get out. (Metaphors take you a long way. They are the ladders in 'Snake and Ladder' game, that's another metaphor)

But it’s hard to smile, and chew. I’m short of breath. I choke a lot. I sound like a wheezy, lisping drunk. For a recovering alcoholic, it’s really annoying. (When emotions run high, people use short sentences. We get choked as we get caught in a deluge of them).

If I let this run the whole course, with all the human, medical, technological and loving support I will start to need just months from now, it will leave me, in 5 or 8 or 12 or more years, a conscious but motionless, mute, withered, incontinent mummy of my former self. Maintained by feeding and waste tubes, breathing and suctioning machines.  (Look at the series...your article must contain at least one series. It has the effect of a drum roll. And see the role of a fragment sentence at the end. It works whenever there are things go out of balance)

When the neurologist gave me the diagnosis that November, he shook my hand with a cracked smile and released me to the chill, empty gray parking lot below. (At the turning point, the writer jump-starts our senses. Chill(tactile). Gray(Colour). And a specific place- The parking lot. Suddenly the spectacle pops into life).

It was twilight. He had confirmed what I had suspected through six months of tests by other specialists looking for other explanations. But suspicion and certainty are two different things. Standing there, it suddenly hit me that I was going to die.(Understand the implication of twilight. It is half here and half there. It reflects the moment described).

I had a dinner scheduled in Washington that night with an old friend, a scholar and author who was feeling depressed. We’d been talking about him a lot. Fair enough. Tonight, I’d up the ante. We’d talk about Lou. (Using humour at a pathetic situation can deepen the melancholy the reader is going through. And I believe that the phrase, 'to up the ante' was once formed just to be used in this article. So apt. So touching)

The next morning, I realized I did have a way of life. For 22 years, I have been going to therapists and 12-step meetings. They helped me deal with being alcoholic and gay. They taught me how to be sober and sane. They taught me that I could be myself, but that life wasn’t just about me. They taught me how to be a father. And perhaps most important, they taught me that I can do anything, one day at a time.

Including this.
(Repeating the word taught. Music. Monotony in learning. And see the short sentence single para at the end).

She was being bathed and diapered and dressed and fed, and for the last several years, she looked at me, her only son, as she might have at a passing cloud. (no comments).

I have a plan. If I get pneumonia, I’ll let it snuff me out. If not, there are those other ways. I just have to act while my hands still work: the gun, narcotics, sharp blades, a plastic bag, a fast car, over-the-counter drugs, oleander tea (the polite Southern way), carbon monoxide, even helium. That would give me a really funny voice at the end. (Using another series of specific things. And at the end again humour at a sad situation).

The song that transfixed me, words and music, was “Dance Me to the End of Love.” That’s the way I feel about this time. I’m dancing, spinning around, happy in the last rhythms of the life I love. When the music stops — when I can’t tie my bow tie, tell a funny story, walk my dog, talk with Whitney, kiss someone special, or tap out lines like this — I’ll know that Life is over. (I wish, the writer had stopped here, but he continues.)

It’s time to be gone.


Nikita said...

The effect of writing that can put you on the spot and feel the emotion is the skill to learn.

pooja said...


an x-ray of the piece.Thank you sir.