“Fifty is the youth of old age,” they say. This implies that one is likely to commit the mistakes a youth ordinarily commits at the formative yeas of life. The nature of youth is combustible and one can understand about the reckless adventures. But what happens to Nan? It is difficult find a justifiable logic for her abrupt action, but in the world of emotions, everything can find the justification. Assume that a spiritual development happened within her. In the true pursuit of spirituality, an inpidual does not escape from the responsibilities. Rather, one makes efforts to create the spiritual atmosphere where one is! The pursuit of happiness is not in running away—and every husband and wife needs to know that the world (including the private world as applicable to the unit of family) can not be run on happiness alone! Life has to be lived in its trails and tribulations, its duty and beauty!
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Did she ‘run away’ on account of the unhappy marriage? No, her emotions point out the contrary. She leaves a note to her husband,” “I am sorry the note I left you was so abrupt. I just wanted you to know I was safe. But I shouldn’t have said I’d be back in a day or two. I won’t be back for a while. I’m on a trip. I needed all of a sudden to go, without saying where, because I don’t know where. I know this is not like me. I know that. But please believe me, I am safe and I am not crazy, I felt as though if I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be safe and I would be crazy.”(Berg, 1996,p, 3) The relationship between wife and husband is like the pair of opposites. (Good and bad, happiness and sorrow etc. from the day of marriage).
Every woman feels that she is imprisoned after the marriage. She feels many of her privileges are taken away. She lives the life as per a particular pattern. And many times she envies the freedom that the men enjoy. Some hidden psychological grudge persists even among the most affectionate, most home-loving woman. The caged bird, views the free birds sitting on the greenery and chirping nonchalantly, without caring a wee-bit for the world around!
To break away by hatred is much easier than to break away from love. That too from a man and the family to whom you are tagged on with by the sacred institution of marriage is not the easiest of the tasks. The word ‘Vivaha’, the Sanskrit word, is equivalent of Marriage in English. This word is beautifully composed. ‘Vaha’ means to flow, ‘Vi’ means harmoniously together. Therefore, the word Vivaha means to flow together harmoniously. Two distinct inpiduals, two separate personalities, born bred and brought up in different sets of circumstances, try to come together from that day onwards(from the day of marriage) to find a common goal, a common identity and to be precise, a common all! If any serious problems were there, Nan could have discussed them with Martin.
There is no evidence that Nan took such a step. The decision to shut the door of her home behind her was her own. No reasons have been assigned. But the women readers will enjoy this book for the simple reason that it is the story of some other woman running away from home. Just like the viewers in a circus, enjoy the thrills without being involved in the dangerous exercises, one is curious to know what will happen to a woman on a solitary journey, directionless, destination less and support less. For this very reason any women reader would like to pass around this book to friends and relatives, by whispering—look, what this woman is up to? You and I just can not summon courage to repeat her performance.
Men need to know that women can simply walk off from the marriage, without assigning any reasons, etc. The book catches the imagination of the readers, especially the women for another reason. The ‘heroine’ (the main character) of the book is a common housewife. Since she does not know, by her own admission, what will happen to her tomorrow, the uncertainties of her life keep the reader guessing and involved. As if you view in a TV channel, the day to day reporting of an unsolved crime or love episode. Your main question is, ‘what will happen tomorrow?’ You guess certain things and are curious to know whether the storyline proceeds as per your interpretations of the issues!
The search for True Self is not as easy as driving out in a car! I admire the new-found grit of Nan, to move alone, but that is certainly not the index of her courage. At the same time, she wishes to keep bond of her family, her grown daughter and the loving husband, in tact, for any eventualities. She writes to Martin, “I will write to you often. I don’t want to talk. Please. Well. You know, I write that word please and I don’t have any idea what to say after it. But please. And can you believe this? I love you.” The script would have been good for a Hollywood movie, but in the real-life situation, it is difficult for Martin or any man like Martin to accept this plea. No logic is involved in the disposition of Nan.
The drawback with men and women, especially women, is that they think that marriage is always merry-age! It is not so. True-love goes on multiplying but passion diminishes with time! The first flush of the enthusiasm about the marriage and married life experienced during the initial few months of the marriage, will not remain the same for ever. It does wane for no fault of anybody! To forgive and forget is the only alternative, for a smooth-going married life. If both of you are unable to find perfect happiness, carry on with the available or achievable happiness! Initially, you had the husband only to love—now, the children have appeared to seek a share of you time and love!
Nan carried the hidden pot boiling in her heart for too long—only the reasons are not clear. If it were the issue of seeking liberation from her tortuous husband, she would have had thousands to cheer her along her sojourn. But that is not the case. She has suppressed her true feelings for unknown reasons as she says, “I would be standing over you pouring your coffee...and inside me would be howling so fierce I couldn't believe the sounds weren't coming out of my eyes, out of my ears, from beneath my fingernails." (p, 4) Here is the story authored by an ex-nurse, who might have diagnosed the diseases and offered proper treatment in her professional career, but in this book she, through the character of Nan, fails to diagnose her mental ailment!
It is the story thorough the Ages. It is about Him and Her. Sages meditated for Ages, Wise men wrote millions of pages, about this joy and happiness, that has eluded the mankind in the known history—what a profound mystery! If Nan left the house in search of the Soul-force and true happiness, she has used the wrong method for it. Any impulsive action has not provided durable solution. At the first indications of ‘drowning’, she should have contemplated what is happening to her and if not husband, consulted her close friends about her inner turmoil. Most probably she would have found the solution, because her basic nature is, ‘love and affection.’ And why she should worry about the aging process, over which she or anybody has no control?
Te famous essayist A. G. Gardiner writes, “There is a beauty in the sunrise, and also in the sunset!” When God creates the cradle, he also creates the grave, when He creates the womb, He also creates the tomb! What Nan needed was perfect counseling from a genuine spiritualist! Human life or the family life is compared to the ocean. Howsoever powerful may be the ocean currents and the waves, their real nature is mere water! Nobody has ever taken the bath in the sea when all the waves are over. Having gone for the sea bath, one should not be afraid of the oncoming waves. If the waves are powerful duck them; if the waves are friendly dance with them and when the waves are normal swim your way further!
She continues to maintain the record of her adventures and she writes letters to her husband and daughter Ruthie and also continues to write to a journal. In those letters she givens vent to her thoughts about her inner world. But the story fails as it doesn’t provide the convincing procedures of transformation of an inpidual. Her decision not to dye her gray hair and her going to bed with a stranger, just to cuddle etc. do not convey anything profound. Nan, it seems, has no problem with the finance for her trip. It is strange that she has no concern for the feelings of her grown-up daughter as well as her husband.
Her mental condition is lively enough to write to her husband to contact the architect about the new house she plans, after her return. How can she positively expect that Martin will wholeheartedly welcome her when she returns, forgetting the bitterness created when she abruptly left him? He must have been the laughing stock of people around him. The law of pine retribution demands that he greet her along with his lawyer with porce papers ready. But Martin, with nobility of heart and character would not do that for which he deserves compliments. To pardon is the noblest of the pine qualities.
Nevertheless, Berg has given us a very interesting novel. She is intensively sensitive to the suffering of women, and touches the appropriate nerve, she being the experienced ex-nurse, by profession. Her interaction with the patients has given her enough raw materials of small and big issues concerning the mental and physical ailments of an inpidual. This is an interesting story for the women to know many finer details related to their lives but not worthy of emulation on all counts.
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