Optimum

Every day I am in a race against time. Half a year has gone by. I feel the urgency to write more and read more amidst my professional work. There are days when I feel terribly overwhelmed by the anxiety of getting actual work done and juggling time between writing, reading and all those in between stuff that requires my attention and time. I wish I could have some kind of superpower to shut out all kinds of distractions so that my brains could be in optimum mode all the time.

I enjoy reading literary fictions as much as contemporary fictions.

Recently I started reading Rachel Cusk‘s debut novel, Saving Agnes. It was published in 1993. The way Cusk tells a story seems effortless and easy going.

A couple of years ago, I read TRANSIT  written by Rachel Cusk, its omnipresent theme about the mystery of change and reality resonates with me. 

In TRANSIT the protagonist, Faye is a novelist and after her recent divorce, decides to move back to London. She acquires an old council- owned property on a good street. The book contains her conversations with an ex-boyfriend, a  hairdresser, builders, neighbour and friends.

Her friend, Amanda says,

   ‘I said that perhaps none of us could ever know what was true and what wasn’t. And no examination of events, even long afterwards, was entirely stable. To take her point about fashion, if one waited long enough those embarrassing old clothes often   started to look right again. The same forms and styles that from one distance seem to emanate shame, and to prove that we are capable of self-delusion, from another might be evidence of a native radicalism and rightness that we never knew we had, or at least that we were easily persuaded to lose faith in.’

As he applies colour to her hair, Faye’s  hairdresser, Dale tells her about his road-to- Damascus moment

       ‘I had a road-to-Damascus moment,’ he said.’ Last New Year’s Eve, of all times. I bloody hate New Year. That was part of it, realizing that I bloody hated New Year’s Eve.’

     A group of them had been at his flat, he said. They were getting ready to go out and he starting thinking about the fact that he hated it, and thinking that everyone else probably hated it too but that no one was prepared to say so. When everyone had their coats on, he announced that he’d decided to stay at home.

       I just suddenly couldn’t be bothered,’ he said .

    Why not, I said.

         For a long time he didn’t reply, painting the strands of hair one after another until I thought he either hadn’t hear my question or was choosing to ignore it.

        ‘ I was sitting there on my sofa,’ he said, ‘and it just suddenly happened.’

      He stirred the paintbrush in the dish, coating each side again carefully with the brown paste.’

The novel is devoid of plot yet its stylish writing has kept me reading. The narration is fluid and beautifully executed. Rachel Cusk’s poignant insights are present throughout the fiction. The way the narrations go, the bits that go into the conversation with whom she interacts are rather inconsequential and they are in essence about  how Faye has been spending her time and how she is constantly thinking about her two teenage sons. To me, our daily encounters are usually made up of bits of inconsequential encounters that very often mean nothing. We are all in transit somewhere somehow, and in essence, we are not unlike each other as nothing stays constant.

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