Harsimran kaur ON April 11, 2023 , IN BOOK REVIEW, OLD BABES IN THE WOOD BY MARGARET ATWOOD/FICTION
Is our life structured from the beginning till the end? Or anomalies creep in as infested bugs being privy to our stewed pottage morphing the life we intend to lead to the one we have no inclination to. We have less grasp over life. Unapologetically true! And what about the dual lives we live? It marks our non-assessment of its vagaries. We prod the crumble mixture hesitantly; atleast not every time the finger will touch the hot pie. But if it does, the brazed skin is a reminder of our neglect which further creates a tendency to etch paths, disturbing sometimes though, but carrying loads of indigenous wisdom to trot along.
So, life is crafted by us; sauntering in the darkness to find light, peddling on the rough terrain to find a cascading waterfall beaming an illusion of bonhomie flowing through it and the fortified bulwarks entrapping the soul to finally leave memories behind that never get old but live eternally.
Aren’t these deviations a part of our life-stories; the stories we craft in our life? The word ‘craft’ is of immense importance—it feverishly shows our dominion over the breed of happy descent impregnated by discursive fripperies, fatalistic melancholy and ratiocination insurgencies. Let’s talk about two lovable people in the book ‘Tig and Nell’. They beautifully capture their in-roads to life trickery by living for what they never bartered for. All this is brought to the inert senses by the creative craft master ‘Margaret Atwood’ as she presents stories that help Tig and Nell find obscure truths that walk concomitantly as boisterous falsification.
The impending load of ‘First-aid’ that usually sits on one’s mind; a hollow picture of ‘what ifs’ – a bruise here and there, the perfidy of getting burnt and the callous heart winking in glory to forsworn the mundane pumping. Doesn’t the ‘ifs’ in life make humans unconsciously vigilant; the conscious is already a wax-tape sticking out in deference. So, what do Tig and Nell actually crave for? The treks, mounting the big wall and a hail to every meal—all in juxtaposition to the ‘deuce’ that life sometimes can be.
Stories crafted by Margaret Atwood around Tig and Nell are not only the glories both pleasantly taste but the avalanche of emotions that protuberate to see their cat die and the neighbors pride they feel for John and Francois. Tig’s demise is catastrophic. A pile of stories put forward by Atwood to define the solitude of Nell like a aubergine mouth-wash that swishes sourly to roll in the epitaph of memories and then spiting it as an incumbent need to let go, to make it alive again. Her widowhood inspired camaraderie to other widows is a life Nell gets accustomed to, a distinction from life with Tig. And, across the valley lies the wood where the ‘old babe’ Nell spills in laughter to arrive at the conundrum of death, diminutive in its clarity but magnanimous in its legacy!
Atwood is humorous in her genuinity to spill life through her repertoire of stories. ‘An evil mother’ in the dire need to protect her daughter premeditates ‘ruffled weaves’ to interpret life’s incongruity. Saliently, you see the daughter waging frivolous talks with her father turned into a ‘garden genome’—really! Hopeless is the human malignancy but why to refrain from the benign emotion till it draws off the pain to be forsaken.
What about the piteous snail, ensnared in a woman’s body? God be merciful, the snail engages his time in assessing if humans are such provocative of their needs besides the inappropriateness of their emotional tangents. The story is a laughter riot and a chuckle here and there is a sine qua non.
Many more stories ruffle the nest and maneuver through the transitions in life falling in that cradle to grave is a life crafted by one’s intellect to understand the each moment is a reflection of the past plucking—some go waste and some neatly hold the hair-bun to dance to the intricate web of life follicles.
An absolutely stunning masterpiece! The in-depth analysis of life is best grinded by Margaret Atwood—extremely adorable and heart-touching pile of stories.