The last great adventure
'Finally!' he hollered back. 'I thought you were never going to come.'
I set aside my assortment of bags near the door and bounded to him. He patted the chair next to him and said, 'How long are you staying?'
'Just the weekend, I'm afraid. I have school…'
'Ah, don't I know it.' My grandfather sighed. Then he perked up again. 'Well, let's make the most of the weekend, then. There's something I want to show you.'
He tottered to his feet. I noticed how his knees wobbled, how his hands shook. Old age, I suppose, but it was sad nonetheless. Despite his seventy-eight years (and counting), my grandfather was an active man. He still insisted on his morning walk, religiously circling the perimeter of his neighborhood every day before breakfast. And he still insisted on eating his bland steamed vegetables. And his morning glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, juice that made even my tongue wither.
My grandfather disappeared into his room. I looked around the stuffy house, at the furniture that had been in the family for nearly thirty years. There was the big glass cabinet that displayed my grandmother's china, the enormous sofa with the lacy doilies and faded cushions, the steel bookshelf that held all the files my grandfather had accumulated over the last fifty years. That bookshelf was one ugly piece of junk, but my grandfather refused to throw it out. The aesthetic in me winced, but I decided to overlook the lapse in my grandfather's interior designing skills. He was, after all, old.
My grandfather chose that moment to reenter the room, weighed down by at least half a dozen dusty tomes.
'A little help, please,' he croaked. I ran over to him.
The tomes turned out to be photo albums, with cracked spines and missing jackets. Most of them were labeled in my grandfather's miniscule handwriting, and appeared to be at least twenty years old.
'It's been ages since I last took these out,' he said, reaching for the nearest one. 'I kept them locked up all these years. No one to look at them...'
At this point his eyes misted over. Ever since my grandmother passed away seven years back, my grandfather had become less of a man and more of a mannequin. It helped when I came to visit. Despite our seventy-odd-year age difference, we got along famously.
'Oh, stop being so morbid,' I said cheerfully. 'And let's look at some pictures.'
'Oh, right.' He opened the album. 'Of course.'
I peered over his shoulder. The pictures were faded, yellowed, and black-and-white. Most of them were of my grandfather, back when he wasn't bow-legged with rheumatism, and had hair. Oh, yes, and teeth.
'Now this was when I went to Japan,' he said, pointing at a random photo, 'back in the 50's. Stayed there for a year, I did. Ate nothing but rice and fish…that's one of the Japanese engineers I worked with. Forgot his name, but he once tried making me drink their local wine.'
I grinned, amused. 'Did you?'
'Of course not! I poured it down the sink. Poor fellow didn't know…'
He turned a page. 'And this one was when I went to Agra. Before your mother was born, late 50's. It was an official trip, but your grandmother came along. We spent a whole day walking around the Taj Mahal. I remember, your grandmother bought a very expensive shawl, and that meant we didn't have enough money, so we ate street food for lunch.' Another page. 'Same year, Hyderabad. Entire days spent in the Officer's Club, attending luncheons that always ended up giving me an upset stomach.'
We flipped past page after page. Trips to India, Pakistan, even the odd stop-over at Nepal. My grandfather's job took him places. Sometimes my grandmother had tagged along, posing for photos under landmarks or in the shops. Some of the photos were of my grandfather, standing in the midst of his engineer friends, or in clubs, sitting around polished wooden tables and holding up cups of tea. There was an entire album dedicated to trips to England, where he'd spent a year living alone in a flat, cooking his own meals and doing his own laundry (and missing my grandmother, of course). Most of those photos displayed him bundled up in sweaters and pullovers and mittens and scarves that my grandmother periodically knitted and sent him by post. There was him, standing before Traitor's Gate, outside Buckingham Palace, in Regent's Park. Him, sitting in his flat, hosting small parties. And then the odd picture of him back home, at his various postings.
We worked our way through every one of the dozen albums. Almost every photo was accompanied by an anecdote, something that had happened on the trip. My grandfather pointed out friends and acquaintances, most of them unknown to me, most of whom had passed away. He spoke of weddings and funerals, birthday parties and official functions he'd be forced to attend, and in those pictures he didn't smile.
By the time we were done, it was mid-afternoon. The slanting rays of the sun lit up my grandfather's face at an angle, so that his wrinkles were smoothed out, and the bags under his eyes barely visible. He looked younger, and…happier.
'You were quite the wayward traveler,' I joked, as he closed the last of the albums.
'Oh, yes. I was.' He shoved the albums aside, and stretched on the sofa. His eyes drowsed over with sleep. 'Most of my career I spent away from home. Meeting so many people, being at so many places…I just wish I'd had your grandmother along more. It'd have been our great adventure…'
He petered off, and moments later started to snore. I put away the albums. Yes, my grandmother would enjoy the traveling. And I imagined them, him in his hand-knitted sweater, and my grandmother in her starched pastel saris, standing side by sideon the streets of Paris, maybe, or outside the Coliseum, smiling into the camera, eyes shielded against the sunlight. And for that moment, they would be young and carefree, not in their seventies and married for fifty years. They'd have life, and many adventures, to look forward to…
Ten days later my grandfather passed away. And so began his last great adventure.
Soul Music- Terry Pratchett
So I'm reviewing a Pratchett, I had to at some point, him being one of my favorite authors. The reason behind me liking Pratchett so much lies in his ability to mimic and poke at the real world in his books.
Soul Music is the 16th Discworld novel and unlike other Ankh Morpork books, which always tend to be about the City Watch, this one veers of into a whole different direction, talking about the music scene in the city. The fact that music isn't free in the big city, at least not for the musicians performing the, dawns early on for Imp Y Celyn, a harp player from Llamedos, who ran away to pursue his music career. The Musicians Guild has strict rules and dire punishments for those who practice music without their permission. Joining Imp in this predicament are Glod and Lias, a dwarf and a troll.
All the way on the other side of the Death decides to take a holiday, going of into one of his journeys across the Disc to find meaning. This was sudden depression in Death causes an imbalance and brings into the scene Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter. Susan has always known she was different, but according to her only because she viewed the world differently from others. However, the arrival of a frantic Death of Rats at her window and the knowledge that Death is a relative rocks her carefully arranged world as she fills in for death.
All this while in the big city, Imp, Lias the troll and Glod the dwarf are stumbling around trying to make a living. With Imp's new guitar and the Musicians Guild after them, life becomes that much more complicated, because, with their unique combination, they come up with a unique brand of music, namely, Music With Rocks In. Their music takes the Disc by storm, prompting the youth og embrace and the elders to despise it. What ensues is reminiscent of the rock music scene here in the real world with Imp and his band performing bigger and bigger concerts.
Sort of like a sub plot is the Unseen University, where even the wizards have embraced the new music. With the wizards all rebelling along with the youth all over the Disc, the music scene in the Discworld really kicks off.
Pratchett in this book borrows heavily from the real world music scene, with a lot of the songs performed by Imp being parodies of popular real world songs. A lot of the other bands he writes about have humorous names resembling real world bands. This book shows of Pratchetts knowledge about music and the fact that he isn't just another funny guy poking fun.
For music aficionados this book if full of funny gags about music, and for others, this book makes for a cracking good read. And for anyone who appreciates a good joke, this
By Tareq Adnan
I've been walking for a thousand years it seems,
That is countless days of running,
But was I running to you?
Or away form you-
That is something unknown to me.
And now that my travels are finally through,
I would love to meet you some day,
I would sit with you for half an hour,
to talk of things only you and i knew...
I would like to see you look at me,
Like you did so long ago...
A thousand years ago it feels,
Yet so vivid, like just the day before.
I would love to ask you, what you remember,
Remember of the time we had,
Do you remember how we laughed and loved?
Or just the falling tears?
I have been running for such a long time..
By now the world has changed,
But all I want to do is hold your hand,
And holding you, I would like to cry.
I have tried to forget your image as i ran,
My never-ending journey took me so far,
But even at the end of eternity,
I find myself, at the path where you stand.
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