Butler, Rhett

As much as I racked my brains for a character starting with ‘B’, I couldn’t get one. 

Everyone who knows me knows my love for ‘Gone with the Wind‘. Scarlett O’Hara is the more famous character of the book and movie. Rhett Butler is a very close second for me. And one that I have loved so much growing up. So there was no chance I was letting this go.

If you have read the book, you’d know it’s a big book, over 1000 pages and lots of characters. So there is no way you can form an opinion about each one of them during the first go. Infact during my first reading of the book, Rhett Butler’s name was mentioned in the book  many times before he actually made an appearance. And I thought he was one of the many side characters until the story panned out and he became one of the most important. And that’s why precisely, it’s not strange that my feelings for him changed as I re-read the book many times over.

The first time that Rhett is ever mentioned in the book is at a party and it is whispered around that he is a man of “reputation” and is not received in “decent circles”. That made me think of him as a negative character. And then just a few hours later, Scarlett catches him napping behind a couch where she had been trying to coax Ashley Wilkes into marrying her. When Scarlett confronts Rhett that it was not a respectable thing to do. Rhett,very tongue-in-cheek reminds her that what she was doing wasn’t very respectable either. I still thought of Rhett as an abominable character.

GONE WITH THE WIND, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh in a still from the movie

Rhett keeps going in and out of Scarlett’s life as she marries once and then twice and eventually loses both her husbands. He finds her will and stubbornness a very attractive quality and even provokes her many times. Scarlett hates him to the core. But Rhett is a man of “reputation” and openly confesses to have earned his wealth and many a affairs by unfair means. Rhett’s hard exterior is made a little vulnerable only when he sees Scarlett so hopelessly in love with Ashley and knows that it may never be returned with as much fervor. And that’s where he says one of his many iconic dialogues, “You need to be kissed, and by someone who knows how“. 

One of my most favorite scenes from the book is when Scarlett needs money and goes visiting Rhett in the jail. She doesn’t care a damn that he is going to be hanged soon. She just goes there to lure him, to make him believe that she has always liked him so that he loans her some money that she needs. Rhett can read Scarlett from a mile away. She is in all her finery, that famous green satin dress. He knew she didn’t love him. He knew he didn’t have access to his own money. Yet he let her go on and on. And when he wouldn’t budge, Scarlett being Scarlett offered to be his mistress to repay him. That’s when Rhett tells Scarlett the truth. Scarlett couldn’t be any more angrier or humiliated. And Rhett?! Well, that’s the thing he has always loved about Scarlett. Her naivety about relationships but her utter will to live and flourish at any cost. He finds her charming beyond his control.

Finally, there’s the time when Rhett manages to marry Scarlett hoping to get her to love him as he has with all his might. But Scarlett is a grown woman still trapped in that little girl’s body who cannot get over her first love Ashley, even though she knows that he is married. And even when Ashley pointedly tells her that he would never ever betray his wife. There finally comes a point when one gets to see Rhett’s vulnerability and sadness at not being able to get Scarlett’s attention and love. Personally, it broke my heart to see the ever reckless and hard hearted Rhett dissolve into sadness and gloom. 

The depth of feeling Rhett has for Scarlett can easily be gauged from this one dialogue:
You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.

Rhett’s character is so real that you or I may actually know someone like him. He has the hardest exterior. He takes all the slights and insults hurled at him with utmost grace. And wit, if needed. And yet, he has the kindest heart for a genuine person. He has a way with kids as he understands them well. And beneath all of that is a heart that longs for love. A love that is full, complete, passionate and only his. A love that is freeing and all encompassing.

His oft repeated dialogue to Scarlett is “Frankly dear, I don’t give a damn“. And that I think is a lie. 

Anne Frank

As a little girl, I was petrified after reading “The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank“. My hitherto cushioned and protected life could not take in and believe the horrors that war brought upon the lives of people. For a long time after that, I went to bed scared of the what ifs. What if we had to live a life like Anne? What if WWIII started and we died without ever knowing what it means to grow up, go to college , have a job and kids?

But at first, I was also very confused about some chapters from Anne’s life where she talked about the crush she had on the boy whose family hid with them in the attic. I could not believe how she could be concerned about a boy’s feelings for her when their lives were at stake. I think I judged her a little bit. 

And then, as I grew up, curious to read more about WWII, I read more books about Anne’s life in the concentration camps, Last Stop Auschwitz and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. And I always went back to Anne. Like she was the person I knew who had gone to that hellish place. And since I grew up a little too, I began to understand her better. 

Like she was a teenager who could not fathom the enormity of the situation at first. May be she thought there would be a day when they would be able to walk out of that house as a free person. May be she was so afraid that at one point she just stopped being afraid. She wanted to live her life completely. She wanted to grow up to be a woman, have a boyfriend, and experience her first kiss. She wanted to journal her life in the attic so that one day when all of this was over, she would publish that book and become famous.

The last straw of my journey came when I visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. At that point, I was happily married with a 9 month old Lil S in my arms. For those of you who haven’t been there, it’s the same house where Anne and her family hid for close to 2 years. As we climbed the narrow stairs to the upper level and moved across hallways and went to Anne’s room, which she also shared with her sister, all those scenes from her diary came floating right across my eyes. My first instinct was to clutch Lil S a bit more closer. There was absolute silence as we moved across the house. We came out and sat to watch a short film about Anne’s journey from this house to the concentration camp to never return. 

And as I grew up from a teenager to the mother of a beautiful girl myself, I fully understood the gravity of those feelings that Anne had. That she never could fulfill. I choked and shed a tear. If you could hear a heart break, you would have heard mine that day, breaking into a million pieces.

Anne’s character might not be a very difficult one to process, but for sure is a powerful one. The strong voice of a little girl rising above the cacophony of WWII. Telling us to be gracious, to have gratitude for things we have, for the life we have, and the one she could not have. 

A-Z Blogging Challenge 2020

I did my first and last A-Z Challenge way back in 2014. It was quite strenuous and could never quite fathom the energy to go at it again. You can read the old thread here.

But now that I am back to writing again, it seemed like the perfect time to take on the challenge this year.

I am a little late in starting the challenge but will try to catch up on Sundays as they are off  days for the other disciplined writers.

My theme for this year is “Character Biopsies“. I will try to write about characters that have moved me, inspired me or just stuck with me for any reason. These characters could be from books I have read or movies or web series. Excited much? I am, for sure.

How to find your mom!

Lil S just wrote her first story and I am beaming ear to ear. My happiness is mainly due to the following reasons:

1) She is finally turning out to be a chip off the old block (ahem).

2) Among all the positive things happening due to #COVID19 (nature recovering and animals reclaiming what is rightfully theirs), this story goes right to the top.

Now, without holding onto the masterpiece anymore, here you go:

If you can’t read this clearly, here it goes:
“The dinosaur has lost his mom

He can’t find his mother

Than he foned his mother”

 

Now, if you are done laughing and smiling as I was, for a long time, let’s carry on 🙂

When I asked her to write a moral of the story, she said she had none.

So, on behalf of her, I am going to write a moral for this story. And much like this story, it is pretty simple. 

If you feel you have lost someone, just call them.

PS: Excuse the spelling errors from the 6-year old.

Plants and Kids

Gardening, like any other skill, requires lot of knowledge – both theoretical as well as practical. Now I do not have any theoretical gardening knowledge whatsoever. But if I were to give you a one line advice on what I have learnt in this last year would be this – DO NOT over water your plants. The roots of the plants decay,leaving the plant to wilt and eventually die.

When I started my plants last year, I was super enthusiastic about every new sprout. Like a new plant mom, so proud of her babies doing well. And also having an epiphany of why they call her ‘Mother’ Nature. 

But as plant after plant stopped growing, I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I sincerely watered my plants. To be honest, over-zealously. I also kept them in sunlight, whenever possible. But nada. It’s as if they decided that as a plant mom, I would never get the pleasure of their teens. And then one day, I read an article about plants and water. And that indoor plants need way less water than they would have me believe. And just like that, I was the plant mom with a green thumb. All my plants are now sprouting, and flowering and doing well. I am as proud a mom as they would allow.

Since then, this thought stuck in my mind so strongly. I thought how similar is this ideology to our own life. If we give way too many resources to our kids, more than they can consume and appreciate, wouldn’t their “roots” decay too? Wouldn’t they take things for granted and not work hard? Wouldn’t they become irresponsible humans who would think that they controlled the world? And much like plants, kids like to be nurtured with our time and attention. They grow ‘tall’, both in their deeds as well as stature.

For nothing do they say, Nature is in everything that we do. We just have to observe, stop to see, strive to listen.