A skeptic who is yet to make peace with marriage

elizabeth gilbert

Sometime during last year I happened to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ which talks about her soul-searching journey through Italy, India and Indonesia over a year after a devastating divorce. She spent time in Italy to eat and in India to seek before finding love again in a Brazilian businessman named Felipe in Bali, Indonesia. After a not-so-long period of courtship, Felipe and Liz swore their love for each other but decided never to get married as both of them had bitter divorces.
Since, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was not really a bad read, I picked up its sequel, ‘Committed: A skeptic makes peace with marriage‘ which focused mainly on her ordeals with the US government that ended up in her marriage with Felipe as it was legally required for him to live with her in the US. She also talks, in the books, about the history and evolution of the institution called marriage while attempting to tackle her fears of the same. The bond of true compatibility that she found between herself and Felipe made her quite confident that they would make a wonderful couple.
After finishing the book this morning, I visited her Facebook page where I found a post about her commitment ceremony with her writer-girlfriend, Rayya Elias. She separated from Felipe, her husband for nine years, in July last year after she discovered her feelings for Elias, her best friend for more than a decade. She also informs her readers that the reason she’s going public with her and Elias’s relationship now is because Elias has been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer, which is incurable. She goes on, “I’m walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.”
While I wish all the best to Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias, I also realise that everything around love is beyond our comprehension and a bit complicated.
Here are some quotes from Eat, Pray and Love:
“It’s still two human beings trying to get along, so it’s going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to love each other. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” 
“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.”

The Good Earth

the good earth-final

It was sometime during my high school days I read a Malayalam translation of the classic novel The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck. And, this could probably be my first world literature read followed by Brothers Karamazov of Dostoevsky. I got The Good Earth delivered again by Amazon during the year 2011 to read the English version for the first time while I was down with Malaria. This book, talking about the village life in China during the first few decades of the twentieth century, is still one among my personal favorites. Since my parents are also from an agrarian background, I could relate a lot to this novel and its characters. I saw my father in Wang Lung and my mother in O-Lan. Though we don’t own much land, my father’s love for the little stretch of land he owns is incomparable. He even got some more land leased from a rich landowner in our village out of his interest in farming. However, unlike Wang Lung, he has not succeeded in becoming a rich landlord 🙂

During a recent visit to China, I got a friend who is equally interested in books. When my fellow travelers were busy shopping in Wall Mart, we spent hours over some coffee at a local café talking about books, politics, and cinema and so on. Even after returning from China, we continued to talk over WhatsApp about our latest reads. I suggested him to read The Good Earth since it is about China of the pre-first world war period. To my surprise, he told me that it was not as popular in China as it was with the rest of the world.

A few days back, my friend happened to be in the city where I live. We decided to catch up over dinner. I really wanted him to carry something back to China but there was not much time get anything delivered online nor was I free to go out and look for something due to some busy schedule at work. So, I dug into my book collection and traced the 2011 copy of The Good Earth. Normally, I don’t prefer giving away books from my collection. Still, I thought there is nothing better I can give to a friend from China. And, his smile upon seeing the book proved the same 🙂

Of late, I have come to know that The Good Earth is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons and A House Divided. While my fried will be busy reading The Good Earth, I have decided to go behind the remaining titles in the trilogy.