A LADY AND A RIVER

Reading words may seem to be effortless, but feeling those is too arduous. I began to read this book early this year, yet I could not complete it as I thought. It took me too many months to finish reading this book off. Amidst my tight writing schedule, I finished it finally on the 15th of August. Yes, following its extended endurance, this book obtained independence from these white hands. 

Published in 1994, “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” is the first book in the trilogy, entitled “And On The Seventh Day“, by Paulo Coelho and traces the journey of two lovers on a quest for their lives’ essence across the French Pyrenees. And the title of this novel has been taken from a verse in the Bible. 

At first, I did start to sum up the novel’s complete plot, but afterwards, I settled that I should not. Because for the fanatics of books, each line will enlighten a lesson. Then, how can they all be explained in one essay? No, I cannot devour your golden hour. And so, I choose to compose my solemn thoughts on some quotes here. 

Seek to live. Remembrance is for the old.

In my quote list, this one is foremost. Here, by the word ‘remembrance‘, the author means ‘reminiscence‘. The protagonist of this book does seek to remember her past. But what is the benefit of recollecting our past if we don’t make any attempt to seek to live in our present? As the quote lets out, the present is for us to live our dreams out

“I can read your eyes. I can read your heart. You are going to fall in love. And suffer.”

While reading these lines, I did wish that someone must have told me this. If they had said to me that I would fall in love, I could have been more aware of my love before I fell ill with love. As Coelho has written, that could have happened but didn’t. But in this novel, for her love to be foretold, how fortunate this Pilar is!

“All of the great religions – including Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam – are masculine. Men are in charge of the dogmas, men make the laws, and usually, all the priests are men.”

Believing in the feminine side of God seems to be too odd in this world that does mostly prioritise male Gods than their counterparts. Take any invitation or ask any children! All we can first glimpse in them or hear from them is a male God’s name. I have even thought in my childhood that if there is a “Ramayanam“, there must have been a “Sitayanam“. But now, I am an adult. Though, where is it? Why should we put all the Goddesses aside and look at the Gods with pride? If being crucified is Jesus’s sacrifice, isn’t seeing her son crucified Mary’s sacrifice? If killing Ravana in a rivalry reflects Rama’s bravery, doesn’t dwelling in his garden until then reflect Sita’s gallantry?

Whether it is a purohit, priest or imam, they are all just men. And we all are expected to learn none but their doctrine. Then, how can we recognise the religious beliefs of women? 

“The Goddess uses water as the means to manifest Herself.”

After reading this quote, how can I not write about it? In my mother tongue, there is a song, in which the lyricist has written that the river is the manifestation of women. I am elated to cite its extract here.  

“Nadhiye nadhiye kaadhal nadhiye, Neeyum penthane? Adi, neeyum penthane?”

“River, river, O river of love! You’re a woman too, aren’t you? O lady, you’re a woman too, aren’t you?” asks this luscious verse. Whenever I read that water is the manifestation of the Goddess, the strings of my heart sing these lines. 

“My heart told me that I was in love. And I fell asleep with a smile on my lips.”

The fight between heart and brain has been explained too well in this novel. Even if these two parts live in one body, they react to our love very differently. Our brain says to part and forget when our heart says to love and forgive. But our brain is the one that will, without fail, be won by heart. No doubt! The heart is what will always beat at last. 

“We must never forget that spiritual experience is, above all, a practical experience of love.”

Can we divide love from God? No, we can’t anyhow, for God is love. I deduce that perhaps this is only the purpose that every spouse – the one whom we love more than anyone – is called God. 

As we have discussed love, I want to raise a question with you right now. If we accept that God is love, why should we disallow a married couple to worship a godhead on the day of their love-making yet? 

“A fall from the third floor hurts as much as a fall from the hundredth. If I have to fall, may it be from a high place.”

When we start to pursue our dogged dream, we often doubt what will happen if we fall. Well, whichever path we follow, there is always a probability that we will fail. So, if we have to lose, may it be from following our dream

“Resolve your internal battle, and break the glass.”

‘Break those principles!’ proclaims this passage. Yes, break the rules that don’t allow us to follow our dream! Break the rules that ever remain the same! Break the rules that imply only some people are supreme! Break the rules that make us fools! Finally, break the rules that don’t give us the right to make the rules! 

“Your love has saved me and returned me to my dream.”

I see many people say that love will distract us from our dreams. But I think not. When love is part and parcel of the dream, how will it deflect us from our dream? 

Raising this question with you, I bid my adieu! 

About the author

Reshma Selvaraj

Hello, my name is Reshma Selvaraj. I am a graduate with a bachelor's degree in English. I am from a village called Kombadi Thalavaipuram in Tuticorin, a southern district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil is my mother tongue. Though I studied English as a second language during my schooling, I enjoyed reading English poems and essays. As years passed by, I enrolled to study the literature of English in a college. That was when I began to read a lot of books both in Tamil and English. Thus I started to have a dream of becoming a writer. I have already written and published two short stories. The first short story, entitled “I have an interview tomorrow”, depicts the life of a disabled graduate searching for a job, and the second short story, titled “Aval Oru Maram”, defines the deforestation happening in the Western Ghats of India. This blog is to show the world that I am becoming what I wanted to become, and I hope that it will help you to become what you want to become.

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