To even try and explain what remains indefinable to many or, at least, has all possible definitions and explanations safely cocooned on a distant shelf that is beyond the reach of many, needs not just writing skills but also an intuitive understanding of things. Attempting to investigate relationships and the struggle ‘to sculpt them to match our own map of the world’ come embedded with the possibility of jumping orbits to change form and reach truth and awakening. In her introductory note, the author admits that she was inspired to write this book during the phase when moving out and meeting people during the covid-lockdown phase was curtailed. What she meant was is that an ‘unprecedented amount of time either alone or with our loved ones’ is what activates us in many ways and many levels ‘triggering old wounds and unresolved issues’ that cannot then be ignored any more. This is when living in the present moment gathers momentum and conversations with one’s own self are likely to launch a person into deep and liberating excursions into the heart of truth.
It is these unpretentious portions, astride the right words, that gently simplify the more complex equations in the cauldron of the chemical broth of emotions that is served to us all at some point or the other and whether we want it or not. This is what Meenu Mehrotra attempts in her new book released a few weeks back and she aptly calls it her ‘Notes to the beloved’ and adds that the pages are lessons in self love, intimacy, and detachment. She tells us that ‘the pieces of our puzzle will unravel or fit in with time’ though even she sometimes wonders ’why I need to find the mystery at all.’ Of course, she does need to unravel the mystery and so do we all and must make all possible efforts to identify and analyse ‘moments I wait for, long for – they are the treasures my soul is on the hunt for, not as a goal or adventure but just on the lookout.’ This book is like a conversation each of us should ideally be having with our inner thoughts. For those who find the task daunting, it is reading this book that just might trigger that journey.
This task, let me add here, is neither impossible nor unthinkable and however incredible the questions put to one’s self are, there always are answers hovering all over and around us. We simply need to reach out and start our conversation with them. Talking of conversations, the author has employed a seemingly well-known ploy that allows such a conversation an ice-breaker through what the masters of self-discovery have already written or said. Though the method isn’t new, the way she has linked small digestible chapters following quotes by people like Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Henry Miller, Lao Tzo, Tagore, Keats, Freud, and Buddha to name a few, is precisely what such a dialogue with the self needs. This method enables the reader’s mind to focus on a single thought and then dive into their own past to discuss and debate. Each chapter does seem like a mini debate where points and counter-points arise and are deftly dealt with by the author. This is what makes the entire chain of thoughts comprehensive and gives it the charm to lure a reader’s own private and unique thoughts to emerge out of their hiding (maybe slumber, if I may add) and make concepts of love, intimacy, and detachment possible. And thus hope for the present to get the attention it deserves with the clarity that makes change seem less like a villain that is forever pulling a person away from embracing it. How much and in what way the reader may benefit is entirely up to him or her. This is not a book that a person would want to pick up only in circumstances that are brimming with discord or when one is older. Obviously then the book isn’t just for people who are no longer in the race for achieving higher goals in one’s professional or personal lives or are beyond the competitive environment of life. And no, the book definitely isn’t the sort that pundits, priests, and maulvis will try to push towards a person to lure him into the parallel universe of religion. Such a technique, in fact, helps almost everyone from all psychographic and demographic segments.
Let me give an example of the way Meenu Mehrotra has gone about creating an entire chapter based on a well-known quote by John Keats where he writes: ‘Touch has a memory’. She begins by defining love and calling it a ‘shot in the dark’ and ‘an impossible task’ and also admits that if she ‘can describe it in words, it ceases to be love – it loses all its luminosity and depth’. She then swerves towards connections that most of us find difficult to discuss even with our own selves and plunges into eroticism by saying that it makes love delicious, and that yearning carves itself ‘into a living in the here and now’ that keeps her going. Any form of our relationship with love isn’t without the elements of erotic thoughts and, therefore, this little discussion has no option but to move towards needs and wants. It is here that she reveals to the reader that ‘giving up control, acceptance, and surrender can only open the doors to the house of love’. An understanding of this blend of eroticism with love is all that can lead to a person being happy because ‘happiness is at the core, simple yet complex to achieve’ and is possibly one way to enter pure bliss. The charm of such notes by the author is that she leaves the field before the exhaustion of reading a long and heavily-laden text takes over. The reader is left with the elation that manifests itself when a difficult concept has appeared in a simplified format and there is enough scope for him to connect and complete a detailed structure with incidents and people from his own life.
A good book from this genre really must make all efforts to remain short and simple and yet be capable of clearing a defined path for a reader. This is because there is no dearth of pontificators who write long and complex texts that make a reader feel intimidated and possibly lost. I have quite a few unwieldy books on my shelves in my study that beckon me every time I am near them but, believe me, they are the ones I fear most. And most of them wait there unread. This is one book that I have read and like going back to.
Title: Notes to the beloved
Author: Meenu Mehrotra
Publisher: Locksley Hall Publishers LLP
04 August 2021