Goodbye, Mr. Chips

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When my cousin who’s about to complete his University expressed his dislike for James Hilton’s Goodbye Mr.Chips, I became defensive and wasted no time in suggesting that story is not that much boring and while we were busy sharing our thoughts, my uncle who himself read this story in his intermediate course intervened and also showed his lack of interest about the atmosphere in Mr. Chips.

It’s been thirty years that Mr. Chips is a part of intermediate course in my country and for some time a debate is going about removing it from syllabus.

Mr. Chips is a story of a school teacher about which it’s said that Hilton created this character after his father.

Originally written in 1934, the story is adapted into cinemafilms and two television presentations.

When some people are of the view that it should be removed and replaced by some modern tale, my mind takes me back to the time when our teacher would ask one of us to read a chapter from Mr. Chips and later she would translate it in Urdu for us.

At the end of lecture we were asked to prepare notes from guide books.

It was her way of teaching literature and this is the common way in which the novella is taught to our students in colleges.

Eminent Professor Bhem Singh Dihya from India always reminds his students that literature is a study of life and we cannot study Mr.Chips without establishing its connection with life.

In life, we often meet persons like Mr. Chips. They’re ordinary in appearances but they possessed some some special qualities.

Hilton’s character Mr. Chips knew how to teach languages and with this quality, he succeeded in leaving strong impact upon generation of students in his time.

Mr. Chips was a sincere soul and as a teacher, he did hardwork to achieve a high status at a Brookfield school.

How can we say that the world of Mr. Chips has grown old when themes of sincerity and hardwork towards one’s job are still relevant in our society of 2018?

Another criticism which is put forward by the opponents of this story is about love affair of Mr. Chips. They consider Katherine and Chips relation dull and boring.

Unlike modern tale of Twilight series, the love affair of Katherine and Chips was such that there’s lack of show of emotions in it but the reader needs to study the underlying theme in this love story of Katherine and Chips.

Katherine’s influence changed not only chauvinistic attitude of Mr. Chips but also altered him in a way that he became more effective teacher in a class.

How can we consider such kind of love dull when its influence alters personality to that much extent?

It somehow takes me back to 2008 when suicide attacks were common in country.  Once it happened that while we were in class a suicide blast killed dozens of policemen near our University. Confusion erupted among students and phones started to ring immediately. Other teachers informed our Professor but he continued giving his lecture.

Our minds were so occupied with the situation outside that we didn’t grasp a thing from his lecture.

Now, there’s a scene in Hilton’s story where Mr. Chips in the midst of bombing not only kept on teaching Latin but also carried on cracking jokes so to divert the attention of frightened students in his class.

Our teacher on that day in our University class didn’t try to calm us down. He only wanted to complete his lecture and though he succeeded in doing so, he unlike Mr. Chips failed to leave any impact upon his students.

When my cousin is of the view that reading Mr. Chips is a mere waste of time, I’m of the opinion that it’s not the time to say good bye to Mr. Chips. Literature never gets old. It can’t be associated with certain time period and keeping this in view we still can learn a lot from Mr. Chips.

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Study

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Reading literature is fun but studying it for exams can sometimes be tough. That being said, I admit I need to prepare for my paper of Novel.

To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is an easy read but preparing its underlying themes is a lengthy process.

There’s this theme of “relation of art to life” that makes me think of writing process which I feel is similar to the “pangs of creation” which an artist feels for his painting. Woolf through her character of Liliy Briscoe has depicted this fact that in order to create, artist needs to connect with life.

And that makes me think that in writing too, a relaxed mind and a heart free of any ill-feelings can create wonders on paper.

via Daily Prompt: Study

Shimmer

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As the sea shimmers in the sunlight so do the words in darkness of night.

The word shimmer reminds me of Wuthering Heights, the book whose abridged version, I read in my college days.

Last year, I chanced upon the book and finished reading it in ten days. The novel with its complex psychological characters and soft flow of thoughts is my all time favorite.

The daily post asks us to write something about the word shimmer which takes me back to an interview of a Canadian actor. Sergio Di Zio shared a little secret about his reading habit.

He explained that while reading any book, he’s in a habit of taking notes. So whenever he finish reading book, he not only writes his thoughts about book but also writes about the environment in which he read it. Jotting down thoughts in this way, he keeps record of his own memories.

From that day on, I have also started practicing this routine and whenever I read my thoughts at the end of books, it gives me a strange pleasure.

For me it is a precious feeling which reminds me that words are powerful because they joined to form a thought which can bring “shimmer” in our lives.

Here is a note from a book Whuthering Heights.

“July 18, 2016

It’s 12:40 p.m, I started reading this book on second day of Eid. It’s a journey of ten days which could be less, if I didn’t get under weather.

Reading the book was an unforgettable experience.”

Now reading this note reminds me that how I caught flu which got so worse that I was bound to bed. It was late in the night on July 18 when I finished reading it. It was a hot month of summer. At night, I couldn’t read the book in bedroom for the lights were off and others needed to sleep.

So, while everyone slept, I sat outside in sitting room and enjoyed reading the book in the calmness of night.

You see a single note can remind you of a lot of memories. Memories are precious and what’s more beautiful than saving them at the end of a book and that too in your own handwriting.

I very much like to see the shimmering rays of sunlight in sea. I can’t visit sea because it’s not in my city but rereading these notes in books is my sorce of getting happiness which brings shimmer in my life.

This post is written in response to daily post Shimmer

Let’s explore the world

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“Cut it out,” he said firmly, rubbing the scar as the pain receded again… Harry ignored it. He felt older than he had ever felt in his life, and it seemed extraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been worried about a joke shop and who had gotten a prefect’s badge.

An imaginary land of witches and wizards is sure a piece of fiction but it can also offer lot for its reader to learn. Above mentioned lines are taken from “Harry Potter and the order of Phoenix”, Harry was worried that why he didn’t receive the prefect’s badge and he was thinking about the joke shop but the moment his scar started to pain, he wondered that how could he be worried about such trivial issues.

Reading these lines and while writing the draft for this post, I was thinking that world is big and there’s so much to explore but petty issues, tensions and worries won’t give us much free time and as William Henry Davies describes in his poem “Leisure”

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

 

 

Two faces of Mother Nature

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The idea of taking a day off appears refreshing. It helps in rejuvenating one’s mind and today when I’m writing after fifteen days, my mind is fresh and while typing; my fingers are actually cooperating with me.

It seems harsh and it appears horrible but there’s this strange aspect of Mother Nature that if it is calm and kind then it’s also rude and harsh.

Helen Keller in her autobiography writes

“Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister’s hand… But by this time I had an experience that taught me that nature is not always kind.”

Sitting alone on the tree top, little Helen experienced the sudden change in her surroundings. The warm and calm sun disappeared and as trees swayed and strayed, she realized that the thunderstorm was approaching. On that day her teacher ultimately rescued her but young Hellen learned a lesson from her experience.

She writes

“Nature wages open war against her children, and under softest touch hides treacherous claws.”

That was eleven in the morning when I drafted this piece and while looking outside the window of my room, I found my terrace bathed in morning sunlight. Hopping and jumping among the green leaves, sparrows were busy in uttering the notes of mirth and joy. Under the calm and kind sun, the green leaves were casting majestic shades. Today was a scenic morning but it all appeared indifferent to the chaos that has occurred down in my garage.

In the lamp hanging down the roof of car porch, there’s a bulbul birds’ nest but when the sparrows were busy in singing their merry songs, the stillness haunted the nest. For, the two of the baby birds are missing and in the absence of both father and mother birds, one of the eggs lay unattended.  The nest was quite safe and we’re not sure about what calamity had struck it but we can assume that some predator has devoured the baby birds and being afraid the bulbul bird has also left her nest.

There exist this stark contrast in nature and Thomas Hardy Shakespeare of English Literature beautifully describes it in his writings. Unlike Browning who only praises nature, Hardy accepts nature with all its fury. So, when Browning says

God is in His heaven

All is right with the world

Thomas Hardy writes

“If a way to the better there be

It implies a good look at the worst.”

Ugly as well as beautiful and dark as well as calming, there exist both sides of nature and when Thomas Hardy advocates these phenomena in his novels; I can’t help relating it to the situation outside my room.

I’m sure this is what life is all about. The short lived moment of happiness and joy require our attention to embrace it wholeheartedly and the long and dreary nights of darkness demands an alert and intelligent mind to ascertain the situation and to quote Hardy one needs to take a good look at the worst.

Some poets on WordPress

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Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

While reading an article in Reader’s digest, these lines from W.B Yeats caught my attention. Afterwards, I was reading an essay named “Redress of poetry” when I thought about various poets here on wordpress.

I’ve been following many poetry blogs and right at this moment, I can think of these four posts which I’ve read recently.

Blogging is about sharing and receiving support and encouragement and acknowledging the hard work of these bloggers, I’m sharing four links here.

https://write2blogg.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/a-life-with-you/

Poetry builds for us our world of aspirations and it gives beautiful expressions to our feelings. Nitin author of the blog TIDBITS shares his well-crafted thoughts.

https://itsphblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/awkward/

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Poetry as a form of art  relates very definitely to our existence as citizens of society. Prakash Hegade author of Its PH blog writes this beautiful haiku. Simple yet powerful thoughts.

https://mariawenttotown15.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/lost/

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Poetry can be define as a state of mind not a state of world and maria author of the blog Doodles and Scribbles writes these beautiful lines.

https://nicodemasplusthree.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/when-the-art-lives/

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There are forces in life which are pulling you down but the same forces are raising you up. Ancient Skies  author of the blog Ancient Skies is aware of this fact and thinks when the art lives we push back the barbarism.

Going back to W.B Yeats, These lines are epitaph on Yeats’s tombstone and there are various interpretations on internet but till now I’m not satisfied. Maybe someone here can help me in understanding these lines.

That being said, I’d like to thank you to all the above mentioned blogs, for reading them cleared the purpose and functions of poetry for me 🙂

The shades of life

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I’ve found that sunlight never ceased to show its presence in literature. It can exist in many forms and it’s capable of eliciting different moods in reader. For, the yellow rays of mellow sun are a symbol of hope and love while dull rays of setting sun can become a hint of death and despair.

Thomas Hardy in his novel The Return of the native describes the beauty of Thomasin’s hair. He says

“The sun, where it could catch it, made a mirror of Thomasin’s hair, which she always wore braided. It was braided according to a calendric system: the more important the day the more numerous the strands in the braid.”

Khalid Husseni the author of The kite runner writes this beautiful paragraph. The hint of setting sun precedes some tragic and horrific events in a story.

“Rahim khan slowly uncrossed his legs and leaned against the bare wall in the wary, deliberate way of a man whose every movement triggers spikes of pain. Outside a donkey was braying and someone was shouting something in Urdu. The sun was beginning to set, glittering red through the cracks between the ramshackle buildings”.

Again, Charles’ Dickens in his novel The tale of two cities describes the arrival of cruel Marquis in these words.

“Monsieur the Marquis in his travelling carriage (which might have been lighter), conducted by four post-horses and two postilions, fagged up a steep hill. A blush on the countenance of Monsieur the Marquis was no impeachment of his high breeding; it was not from within; it was occasioned by an external circumstance beyond his control—the setting sun. The sunset struck so brilliantly into the travelling carriage when it gained the hill-top, that its occupant was steeped in crimson. ‘It will die out,’ said Monsieur the Marquis, glancing at his hands, ‘directly.’”

I’m not good at taking pictures but I can’t resist capturing different shades of sunlight.

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December sun was looking kind and the leaves were looking majestic in its shade.

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My cousin thought it would be a perfect pose.

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Maybe that was this white sunlight that inspires me to capture this picture.

 

The things that do attain love

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The love of parents for their children is unconditional. There’s no jealousy involve in this relationship and my mother never forgets to mention it. She’s very right in reminding us this message again and again, for we the children often forget it.

The other day, I was reading the poem the things that do attain love which somehow reminds me of a large collection of pictures in my home. There’s this vivid memory from my childhood when my mother would dress us in nice and colorful clothes. Those were the days of photographic film cameras. Mother didn’t want to waste that film. So, she asked us to clap or laugh.

The whole exercise was meant to make the picture memorable and when all the pictures were taken, the film was sent to develop and then the long hours of wait started.

That was the pure and unconditional love and “Henry Howard” explains it in these words

MY friend, the things that do attain

The happy life be these, I find:

The riches left, not got with pain;

The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

 

The equal friend; no grudge; no strife;

No charge of rule, nor governance;

Without disease, the healthy life;

The household of continuance;

 

The mean diet, no dainty fare;

Wisdom joined with simpleness;

The night discharged of all care,

Where wine the wit may not oppress:

 

The faithful wife, without debate;

Such sleeps as may beguile the night;

Content thyself with thine estate,

Neither wish death, nor fear his might.

Neither wish death nor fear his might: this is the most beautiful message here. Do you feel the same? What other message in the poem do you like?

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

The idea of reading the same book year after year after year seem strange to me, for I believe that it is a particular environment or a mood of a person which  provokes him to read a same book.

This December saw me reading the series of Harry Potter and once I closed the fifth part, I lost my interest and couldn’t read more. It’s my second time that I’ve halted midway and may be some time in future I’d like to take a stroll in that magical world again but for this time; I’m once again enjoying reading Jane Eyre.

I remember once our teacher told us that in order to read literature one needs to fall in love with it. And, at this very moment when I’m typing these words my mind is busy in thinking about the reasons of my love for this book.

Jane Eyre is different, for she’s not a gaudy figure but plain and simple and Mr. Rochester is not a typical handsome hero here. This is the novel which has been written in the backdrop of Victorian era and it tells a story of an orphan girl from her deprived childhood to her lovely youth.

Some events in this Victorian literature  seem out of this world but then these are the excellent depiction of emotions and feelings that win our hearts. At times, Thorn field appears dull and on the foreground of such dreary environment Charlotte Bronte has beautifully weaved a story of pure love and passion. I like reading the details about Mother Nature. For, sunlight, birds, flowers and leaves never cease to show their presence in this story.

To call it only a romantic novel won’t do justice to it, for “Jane Eyre” is an exceptional story and whenever I read the following quotes they always seem new to me

“Then learn from me not to judge by appearances.”

It is not violence that best overcomes hate__nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”

 

 

Marginalia

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Things concentrate at the edges; at the pond surface

Is bourne to fish and man and it is spread

In textile scum and damask light, on which

The lily pads are set; and there are also

            In laid ruddy twigs, becalmed pine leaves

            Air baubles, and the chain mail of froth.

Descending into sleep (as when the night lift

Falls past a brilliant floor) we glimpse a sublime

Décor and hear, perhaps, a complete music,

But this evades us, as in the night meadows

            The crickets’ million round song dies away

            From all advances, rising in every distance

Our riches are centrifugal, men compose

Daily, unwittingly, their final dreams

And those are our own voices whose remote

Consummate chorus rides on the whirlpool rim,

            Past which we flog are sails, toward which we drift,

            Plying our trades, in hopes of a good drowning

(Richard Wilbur)

“Marginalia” is a great philosophizing piece of poetry in which the poet has weaved some deep and strong messages. “Marginalia” is the margin of life and after reading this poem I was asking myself a question that isn’t it true that all human efforts are striving towards his end?

Man is mortal but the great conquerors, monarchs and kings of world had all lived a life with a notion of “immortality”. The poet has given us an example of a pond in which fish and man both exert a pressure towards its edges. Our riches are centrifugal. No matter how much we tried but sometimes we have to leave the center.

It reminds me of the story of “Heidi” in which she reluctantly leaves her house. Life in that city home was not easy for her, but the difficulties of that house changed her vision and when she returned she was not the same girl. The Heidi not only learned to keep her dress neat and clean but she also learned to read and write.

There is also a theme of dream versus reality here. I believe our daily activities are only keeping us busy. In the midst of tough schedules of life, our desires, hopes and aspirations find their way in our dreams. In our dreams, the sense of their very presence feels strong which clearly describes the fact that higher we ascent the steps of imagination, we’ll find reality at the edges not in the center.

It seems off the mark but I can’t help mentioning a movie dialogue here. I’m not much fan of watching horror movies but this is my favorite movie quote from “Abraham Lincoln and Vampire Hunters” and I think it somehow relates to the message in the above poem.

“Days are swift as an Indian arrow,

Flying like a shooting star,

The present day is here and then slides away in haste,

That we can never say is ours but only say is passed.”