I grew up reading ‘Gone With The Wind.’ Then, I thought of slavery in a romanticized, removed manner that had nothing to do with reality. That classic tome, written by a white woman, made me think of slaves as dancing around in the grand, white mansions while their white owners indulged them. The Mammas were all lovely, taking care of all the kids as one of their own. And the music to jive to? Ah! Heaven!
Naivety is something I am shedding in layers these days. Every book I read now, ever since a friend told me last year to speak up following India’s CAA bill, is a search to erase the naive ignorance of my teen reading years. And well, afterward too.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t read to enjoy or just while the time away. But it means I read with more awareness. ‘Gone With The Wind’ was an enjoyable read, but since then, I have read Octavia Butler’s ‘Kindred.’ A moving read that I recommend. I also read ‘The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks,’ which was again eye-opening.
I read Alice Walker’s ‘Color Purple’ after reading her ‘Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart.’ That was a strange, surreal voyage into spiritualism that left me seeking more of her work.
In ‘Color Purple,’ Alice Walker leaves slavery as the backdrop, focusing her attention on the amazing, strong women who break through every single difficulty to leave you gasping in the end with the sheer audacity of hope.
When I read this, I was wondering about how Celie and Shug Avery find the resilience. Their love is transcending and well, like many of our loves, complicated. Yet, as we weary our souls over this pandemic, when the anxiety of being alive is straining everything, I felt this book shows us that we can be our own Celie and Shug. We can summon up courage, resilience, and love because these women show us how.
We can be there because we all know how to. Reading powerful stories like these make us understand our worlds a little better. It can teach us to be kinder – not in a “beat-me-down” way, but in the strength that kindness gives us.
I know this: Kindness makes you stronger. Be kind. It’s always possible. Let books teach us that.