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Natasha Badhwar’s new book Immortal for a Moment holds a promise for every reader while ostensibly being a personal narrative of the author.
Like a friend, a guide and a confidant, it will soothe and reassure you. It will remind you of that friend who you always look forward to for sharing your joys, whose shoulder you may have borrowed many times when you wanted to cry and who comes first in your mind for that piece of quick advice for life’s many complex problems. And that precisely is the reason, that you would like to go back to its pieces and sections, even when you have finished reading it once!
Permissions. One word which I particularly find challenging in the context of writing a personal narrative. Precisely the reason, when at the launch of Immortal for a Moment last year in December, I had asked Natasha how difficult it was to seek permissions from family and friends.
Natasha honestly and humbly shared how she had reached out to everyone, but the toughest part had always been to seek permission from self. To convince the self that my story is equally important to be told and shared across.
“It’s about getting out of self-acquired helplessness and loss of voice that all of us have. It is our story but has a universal appeal.”
Indeed, permission from self is the most critical and difficult thing to seek when attempting a personal narrative. As Natasha says, “The engagement from readers continues to make me believe that even if I cannot articulate the motivation behind personal writing, I must not doubt its relevance.”
Part memoir and part essay, Immortal for a moment goes beyond Natasha’s debut My Daughter’s Mum in delving deeper into many universal themes like Marriage, Love, Travel, Religion, and treating them personally. And the impact is absolutely magical! “Stories trick us. A story that starts off looking like it’s my story turns out later to be everyone else’s story.” Universal yet deeply personal. Personal yet universal.
The book begins with these profound lines written by the Nobel Prize winner Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska,
“There’s is no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
Death always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come, can’t be undone.”
And you instantly get a feeling of what awaits you in the next two hundred pages, which is going to be an experience in itself. Natasha Badhwar, through her writing which is true and straight from the heart, takes you on a journey.
There is a promise in those words. That they will hand-hold you and connect you with those inner corners of self which perhaps had been waiting for the light of her writing to unravel themselves. No, not confessional but very powerful. Her writing enables you to find “small answers to big questions about life, love and letting go”. They give you the power to make sense of that feeling of being trapped in relationships and of finding the way out of the black hole.
As I started devouring the book, I let myself immerse in an experience which is woven seamlessly in 200 pages about the wisdom of life and its everyday issues.
As I nodded, agreed and underlined, it seemed it was my story. I forgot myself in that honesty and vulnerability to rediscover a new me, someone who had come out of that trap of acquired helplessness and was connected deep within.
Immortal for a Moment gave me those precious moments of self-discovery and revelation.
“I carried a burden that overwhelmed me secretly, paralysing me further as I made career and personal choices over the years. I had believed that the way to live a more just and gained life was to abandon my privilege. I learnt that privilege is extremely tenacious, the more I try to negate it, the more it grew.”
You will realise that it’s fine to cry, to be in doubt, to feel a sense of failure in your inability to help others even when you empathise and sympathise with them. Honest, fierce and humble at the same time – her writing will offer you advice at many levels. No, not like any self-help book but as a conversation you are having with a friend.
“Once you give yourself the permission to be available only where you choose to be, you can have a lot of secret fun. And that really is the freshest ingredient behind twinkling eyes and spring in one’s step.”
I also couldn’t help but be enamoured by the way Natasha captures and shares her thoughts with us. Small sentences. Simple language. Deeper Meanings. Humbling and honest experiences connecting you to within. All done with a conviction which is so reassuring. The result is an impact that resonates with you at many levels.
Like this one on Love, “Love is a growing up. Love is a fight too. You love everyone else better when you love yourself well. You risk a fight to be able to live better”.
And on marriage, “Marriage is an accident-prone adventure. It gets hijacked, kidnapped, derailed, distracted and exhausted. Togetherness is a venue. We seek it for respite. For nurturing and rest. But don’t always stay there. Be independent”
Immortal for a Moment in many ways carries forward the legacy of My Daughter’s Mum to the next level. It is wider in range as well as the diversity of the topics it touches in those carefully structured sections and beautifully titled chapters. It teaches you to give permission to yourself to accept life as it comes. “Write your fears. It is an attempt to help you reveal you to yourselves” Though I did miss those super cute anecdotes and illustrations interspersed in between chapters which were an adorable part of My Daughter’s Mum!
Whether you read it at one go because you would be tempted to. Or you go chapter by chapter soaking yourself deeper ripping off those layers of fears and inhibitions, you will enjoy the experience. Here is a book that would pull you from time to time to read it in parts, section wise or may be specific chapter wise depending on what you are going through in your life. That essentially is the spirit of Natasha’s writing and the book.
“If you are in love, afraid of being in love or in love but don’t quite know what to do. If you are happily unmarried or unhappily married, then this book is a distraction you need. If you have children, don’t have children or ever plan to be a child yourself. If you have one life, infinite loves and time management issues…”
In each and every case, Immortal for a Moment is a compelling read which is the peace and succour that everyone needs in today’s times. Reach out for it today!
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Top image via Unsplash and book cover via Amazon
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