Sunday, July 22, 2007


The opening lines of Gregory David Roberts' book Shantaram, are perhaps the most beautiful I've read till date. It goes thus:

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.

I've not been through such miseries in life, thankfully... and hopefully neither have you. But then 'shackled helplessness' can come in different magnitudes to different people at different times -- it can be as simple as not knowing why a friend is upset with you (and hence not being able to bridge the cleft), or when you've made some decision which goes wrong and you 'hate yourself' for it, or when you see an injustice but cannot correct it, and many more such common situations.

But good for us, we now have with us lessons such as that on the freedom to choose, from Roberts' book -- lessons that'll surely help us at some point in life or the other!

Hey, not it's not such a heavy book all through! Mumbaikars especially will love the way Roberts resonates a love for their city! He surely is a master of description, narration... and life!


vudeshi said...


I am writing this little note to add to your comment on SHANTARAM novel and how folks from Bombay can relate to it at different levels. I also loved it and so much it has made a small dent in myself...things that define me.

Can't wait for the movie to be out and I guess you would be looking forward to it too. Mira Nair may come up some surpirises. I hear lot of actual shooting will be in AUstralia too (mainly the prison escpae scene).

ANyway goodluck in your world

Memphis TN USA

Aarti said...

Hey Janani,

...the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.. thats my favourite line. :)

Did you know about this website Shelfari? ( place to organize ur bookshelf, sent you an invite.

Hope all is well with you.