17 July 2007

A Notebook

Last week, on Friday, a small package arrived from Montreal, accompanied by a note from eldest brother, Alain. It said,


'Dear Sister,

We came across this while cleaning in the attic. When I saw what it was, I
stopped reading at once and packed it to send to you. I knew you would want it.
Sorry for everything. I hope the memories aren't too intense for you.

Love, Brother Al


Of course, I ripped the packaging off immediately. It was a notebook.

I have always kept a journal of one sort or another. Usually after a time I burn them, unless they contain something extraordinary, figuring they have served their purpose in the writing and not wanting them to fall into unfriendly hands. I had kept an extensive journal of our trip to India, supposing it would be something to remember all our lives. (Yeah, right!) That, unfortunately, burnt with the house.

This journal, however, was written afterward. I opened it and gasped at the date of the first entry: 29 November 1984. That entry consists of just two scrawled words, the most obscene expression in the English language. So much for the [saintly] Mai! I do not remember writing any of it, but it is all in my handwriting and I know the thoughts are mine.
On the inside front cover, two pictures had been pasted: the first formal portrait of the three of us as a family, Sandeep only a few days old, and the one taken the day before we left for India, Sandeep trying not to look excited, Mani not even trying not to look excited and me trying not to look apprehensive. (If only they had listened to me. 'If only, Lord, if only.')

I read it at once, from beginning to end, no easy task, partly because I seemed to get an allergy attack and my eyes wouldn't stop watering and refused to focus. Also my handwriting, while I'm told is beautiful to look at, isn't easy to read, and much of what was written was almost illegible scrawling.

I have been pondering what to do with it. I know it belongs on this blog in some form. But there are problems. To begin with, it is loaded with anger and profanity. No self-controlled, civilised young lady wrote this thing. This is the sipahi without the sant. I need to decide how to handle that. To remove the profanity would destroy the impact and would be dishonest...to leave it in is indecent. I am working on a compromise I can live with - and you can stand to read.

[Click here to read the whole unexpurgated journal. The 'nice' version can be found in this blog under the labnel 'journal.']

I would like to work on it and publish it here in November. However, I am told by the medical professionals that I may well not last that long. So I have made a rough transcription and given it to Suni and Vini (Maman) and asked them to handle it at that time. if I am unable or unavailable.

By the way, I don't believe Al even one little bit when he says he didn't read it. My brother the psychiatrist wouldn't dream of sending it to me without knowing what was in it. He is, after all, the head of the family and, besides, a real snoop.