Harsimran Kaur ON Nov 29, 2022 IN BOOK REVIEW, EVERYTHING THE LIGHT TOUCHES BY JANICE PARIAT-FICTION
The past, present and the future—each a petal bloomed from the flower stalk on which the floral organs are born; but the uniqueness of each petal helps to appreciate the panoply of a flower as a whole. Then, why we give more importance to the present?
Isn’t the plenipotentiary past a clarion call to the defiant present to solemnly attach its festoons and inequities to a preferential future? In this bonhomie, life looks complete—not bifurcated or brutalized as a matter of convenience.
In the book, ‘Everything the Light Touches’ this prodigal convenience issiphoned out by Evie, Goethe and Shai to leave behind the scientific passerines fixated as a de-rigueur. The search for light transcends as an inward journey of observance and interpretation for them; a pericardium where the flow of ideas is not restricted but is a splurge of tireless precision to breathe life with the living, as summoning the dead crust is irrelevant. Life never stops!!
Janice Pariat provides a philosophical tone to the pilgrimages of botanical perusals. Anomalous in its texture, ebbing from the ratiocination or pre-empting nature, the book ‘Everything the Light Touches’ is a reminder of the ability of the mind to be percipient or behave like an adamant ship docked , not ready to move. Shai leaves behind the comfort of a privileged life to reach a remote part of India in the North-East—bejewelled by its own cacophony of distressing roads, insipid superstitions and a disruptive life. She wants to meet Oinn, once her caretaker, and now the desire to take care of her presses hard on Shai. The separation from the indigenous life propels her to reflect if life is defined by our actual desires or is an array of sequential deposits, grinded and gusted to embark on something inconsequential.
Goethe, a famous author, poet and an artist finds himself in the foliage of botanical studies. The quest is not to forsake the privileged creativity or be a stentorian partaker of a peculiar botanical mind-set. He brings an idiosyncratic depth of vision and insight that botany is bereft of. ‘All life is a leaf’ explains how objectivity has violated the essence of being ‘whole’; how vital it is to create a phantasmagoria of impending reasoning to go beyond what the eyes see. Goethe explains this human adamancy to dissect what it visibly sees in a plant rather than assessing how different influences can have a bearing on its growth and survival.
Evelyn finds Goethe’s botanical writings an inspiration. An Edwardian student at Cambridge, she journeys to India—toes to Calcutta, the capital of British India and then foots towards the vast expanse of Assam to find a plant of anonymous origin. She needs to know where she belongs. The titter-tatter of life ambushes her but her indefatigable spirit to reign on the perpetual vastness of nature brings her in close proximity of where she belongs.
The journey of all characters is an evolving one. We carry on our shoulders motives of our desires, remaining oblivious to what they want to convey. We often follow rules and regulations. Our human existence is like a leaf—harmoniously grouped among so many but each speaking a language of its own. The penultimate leaf on the tree is not an end but a new beginning to a new experience as light never fades to touch the roots as it is always in the process to evolve.
From the author of ‘The Nine-Chambered Heart’, Janice has always tried to revolutionize the spectre of thinking in her books; to acknowledge the change within you in accordance with the intrepid promises of the nature.
Truly inspirational and philosophical…