Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wild, Crazy and Fierce: Who, me???

"Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation." - Jo March

For anybody who knew me when I was growing up, they would know for sure that Josephine March was one of my greatest role model. She was that one person I was in awe of and yet, felt like someone I could relate to so much. Like her, I would wake up in the middle of the night with the excitement of the adventures I had embarked upon with so many new friends. It felt like I was on a novel journey everyday, because unlike many others, my mind would constantly be conjuring images even during short afternoon naps. And all this was before I had even read Little Women, the greatest book ever written about how there are so many different types of species in the spectacular creation, called women. 

So, imagine my amusement, when I read about this girl, who sounded like me. Once I had read the rest of the sequels, there was no looking back. I was so sure, I wanted to be nothing in life, but Jo March. And to this day, I don't know if I tried to mirror myself to her, or I was already in her shoes. All I know is that, when I was younger, all I would think was "What would have Jo done?".

And it is not that there weren't any similarities: both of us longed for an older brother, loved books, were a little awkward, maybe not very lady-like, our best friend was a boy and the most obvious one, had long hair. That made me really believe that her story was the guide to my life. Josephine March was the first woman that I truly believed was a dynamic lady, and for the staunch feminist that I am, nothing was more impressive than that. Her fierceness, her passion, her free spirit, her wonderful words, her wildness, everything just felt like stepping stones to an exciting life like hers.

All along my childhood and teen years, I have thought a million times how much fun it would have been to have such great sisterly time, such magnificent capers with a friend like Laurie, to travel to a new city, and establish your self. I wanted to be a part of all those crazy adventures and be so spirited that life would never stop being fun. I wanted to be so passionate about something that nothing apart from achieving it would matter. I wanted to break the cliches of womanhood and be a rebel. One fiery statement from her held the crux to so many misconceptions in life. Equality, nobility, rationale all tied together in such a simple reply:

"I find it poor logic to say that because women are good, women should vote. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country."

Needless to say, Little Women and its sequels formed a very early impression on me of women in their varied forms. And not just women, but the different personalities which are not necessarily good or bad, just so different and unique in themselves. Jo is not very fond of her sister Meg's husband-to-be, who is such a gentleman, but according to Jo is "as dull as powder". The uniqueness of characters and yet, the way they blend together just speaks so much about perceptions and judgments, based on who we are and what we like. 

And among the many lessons imparted in this wonderful book, the best I learnt were from Jo, She was that one character I wanted to be like, made me want to be part of all the drama in a book. She made me believe that passion does drive you towards greater satisfaction and more importantly, that it is okay to be different. I would not say I was a tomboy, but I was definitely not interested in shopping or dressing up. And I felt something was missing because my mother and sister would bond over those things. I would rather go horse-riding or play a sport or even watch a serious talk show. Some of my closest friends were boys and I was much more comfortable with them.  And I did not know what to think of that. But, it was the Jo inside me who told me it was okay, that my family would love me for who I was. Sometimes, I wanted to be a tomboy so bad, I would wonder why my name couldn't be shortened for a boy's name. Childish as that sounds, today I see the real characteristics that I loved about Jo. And as much as I like my individuality, I would love to be Jo and hope to borrow her goodness: be as invigorating, feisty, intelligent, generous and loving as her. 

"I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.” 

It was Jo's love for writing that unknowingly transcended the pages of her book into me. Although, I want to do something new everyday, one thing has stuck with me and I think I might have found the means to astonish my loved ones :) If I don't write something that is on my mind, I get restless and finicky and the minute I am done, I am jumping up and down. Though, I do not have a Writing Cap like hers, my husband would very likely describe me like Louisa May Alcott described Jo:

"Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.” 
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

Some other books that made me want to be a part of them:

These books and many more are my greatest treasures, and writing this blog, just makes me want to go back and relive each of the stories with those wonderful characters. For all the book lovers, I am sure there is a book that means a lot to you and a character that inspires you. What character would you want to be?

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