Hemali Dassani must have quite an audience. I have to admit I am actually a bit envious of her. You might be hard pressed to find her writing in bookstores or libraries, but those of us who receive her occasional musings and missives are truly lucky. Her recent thoughts and travelogues from India alone caused quite a stir in me. I’ll try and fish out her email from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Evocative and full of imagery, Hemali writes not from the gut, but from the heart. True, some of her writing may initially appear disjointed, but things always seem to come full circle in the end. It might be something she has read, seen, thought or felt. Whatever it is, she gently nudges us into thinking about things that are beyond the banal, giving us the kind of reprieve I feel we all need from the mundane rhythms of life. I think what I like most about her writing or quotations is that it helps us peer into a different mirror and ask ourselves some very interesting questions.
It’s quite simple. She needs to be read by more people. I am trying to persuade her to start a blog of her own, but she just might occasionally post something here on Tiffinbox. Keep hope alive!
Meanwhile, this note from her landed in my in-box today:
Via Hemali Dassani
overwhelmed with work yet taking a break to indulge in some merry procrastination, i sit here wondering, why have i not written any musings or missives over the course of the past few months???? …..
“Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be
afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old
verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”
–William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech
–Stockholm, December 10, 1950