Last week, while I was helping the secondary school children with their homework at the after school children’s club, a girl had to write a pretend diary entry. She began it with “Dear Diary”. I wondered if anyone wrote like that anymore. Was it a feminine thing to do? To address a diary as a person? I write my diary on the computer and don’t think of it as a person. I think of a diary as a blank slate and a piece of technology, a thing. Perhaps I am too cold. I wonder what my diary would be like as a person? Is a diary like the diarist? Or is it more like a sympathetic ear to pour one’s woes and troubles into, a friend? I keep secrets from my diaries in any case. There are many things that I do not write but keep in my head. Like the Japanese say, there is a face that I keep just for myself which I never share with anyone. Anyone that reads my diaries, which I sometimes share, may think that I have told all. I write at speed. I don’t try anything fancy. I share a lot. However, I do not tell all. Not at all. What I write is very carefully controlled and censored. The reader only has the illusion that everything is there to be heard.
I began the day with the intention of extreme laziness. I didn’t want to do my meditation exercises when I woke up, nor the usual exercises in the morning. While I lazily flicked through my usual news sites and social media sites on my smartphone, I had thoughts of rebellion. I would be completely free and undisciplined like everyone else, I thought. What changed my mind, I suppose was competition and fear. I happened on a post from a certain someone and noted that she was hitting the gym in the morning. I was provoked into the thought that I was somehow deficient if I could not match her achievement. The fear that was in my mind stemmed from a recent article I had read. If you begin an exercise programme and then stop doing it regularly, the body and the mind are both thought to suffer terrible consequences, both in the short term and the long term.
The morning activities done, I went through the usual breakfast and then sat down to some reading. I had picked up “Grandpa’s Great Escape” by David Walliams at the library. I was doing some reading because I was thinking of doing a future piece of work on the Raj character in the books, and investigate how racism and misogyny are working together in the rubbish that passes as a best-selling children’s novel today. I got through some of the novel and couldn’t help thinking how blinkered the vision was of today’s readers. There was Sue Townsend at the back saying she loved a David Walliams book, even though she was a woman. I won’t point out here the obvious instances of misogyny in the book and how every woman or woman-like character is a villain in “Grandpa’s Great Escape”, or the caricature of the British Asian in Raj. What got me was that there were little children reading this stuff and being taught to think it was the height of humour to think of us and women like that.
I hit the gym pretty hard after a bit of reading. I think I am pretty much working at my maximum at the moment except for a few exercises. I’ve been finding the bench press pretty easy. Maybe I need to start putting more weights onto it as I’ve been at 90kg for a while now (my weight is 62kg). I’ve changed the lift pattern. Before, I used to think of dialogues from a Hindi film: “It is a goat that has always been sacrificed, not a tiger. Arise, Awake, Become a tiger!” I now visualise the Mother Goddess on top of the tiger for inspiration. She is power herself. Of course, if I were a proper Hindu and not an atheist with Sikh and Hindu roots, as well as a smattering of Christianity, I would think of Hanuman, the monkey god and invoke his name so that he could combine his strength with mine. The chin ups were hard as usual, the hardest part of it all. It is difficult to lift yourself that many times over the bar.
I read some more of the awful children’s novel and then I had a delicious treat for lunch. It was home made paneer with peas. I ate it with the 50/50 bread, three slices of the stuff. I followed it with a bitter red apple and then some dark chocolate which I have read is healthy, but is subject to the usual controversy from other quarters.
Lunch done, I ambled down to the park. It was here, on the search for squirrels and unusually bespectacled, since I am short-sighted, that I met the unexpected woman. We were both following the squirrels and looking for animal friends to feed. I was under the canopy of the trees and the light was lovely shining through the leaves. The sun was out and the park was bathed in beauty. She heard me clicking and waving the box of nuts around and I saw her looking at me so I asked her if she was here for the small friends, as she was clutching a see-through bag of nuts. She came over and showed me the whole walnuts that she had. She said that the squirrels really loved them. I had my own humble monkey nuts which are, of course, much cheaper and less nutritious. The woman had lovely black hair and blue eyes. Her face was unusual and in between plainness and loveliness. She had that rounded body which seems so real and tangible, without any suggestion of being unfit and overweight. We talked while she fed some of the little animals. She crouched down and her jeans fit tightly around the curves of her legs. She was Romanian and came to the park a lot to feed the squirrels. I had come earlier than usual, which is probably why I was seeing her around for the first time. She proceeded to give some of the squirrels black pumpkin seeds. After a very short while, she asked me the way to the big town through the park and I pointed her off into the direction. It turned out that she was Romanian and didn’t have native level English.
When she left, I resumed feeding my little park-based pets. I was thinking how nice it was to have a partner to feed the animals with. I had enjoyed watching the woman feeding the squirrels and shared in her evident delight when the creatures came and ate out of her hands, grasping them with their little claws. It was a beautiful sight.
I walked slowly through the park when I was out of nuts and enjoyed the lovely gardens. I am thinking of practicing the memory room routine and incorporating my usual park walk into it as the basis of it. You use a place that you know well to put new items of information in. The way it works is that your path around the familiar place is supposed to let you remember the items more effectively.
I did some shopping that my mother had asked me to do and then walked back home through the stream of school children. The weather was just turning. There were little specks of rain. I finished off the novel and then realised that I’d forgotten the milk. I rushed back outside with an umbrella and unceremoniously dropped off the novel, along with a book of popular science, at the library. I grabbed the milk and walked back into the rain with the umbrella.
I got back home and had a spoon of peanut butter, followed by a spoon of black cherry jam and then an oat bar and some coffee made with milk and no water. I then put together my lesson plan for teaching my English students tomorrow. I am going to do stationery, so I got together some pictionaries, a matching exercise, and a word search which I made myself. I sent off the word search for the nephews, to give them something to do which I had worked on.
One of the dilemmas of the day was haircuts. I was wondering if my hair was now too long to keep. It is at an intermediate length. My family don’t like me keeping my hair long. In fact, when I look at photographs of myself, I can see why. It doesn’t particularly flatter my rectangular face. Short looks much better. However, I always want long hair, like Shiva’s (Shiva being a Hindu god who is renowned for his long and strong hair). Yet my hair doesn’t grow in that kind of way and just looks greasy when it is long, even when it isn’t. I decided to go against desire and towards conformity and get it cut on Monday. I hate getting my haircut.
I played a few word games on the computer and then dinner time came around. I had boiled vegetables, spinach fried in olive oil and barbecue chicken wings. I then sat down and rushed my way through the diary. I wrote at speed and promised myself I wouldn’t go back and check what I had written. I had a plan for some doodling that I wanted to do. I had a picture of a crocodile sitting down for dinner at the bottom of the sea. I wanted to try some more involved colouring of the piece with more detailed shading. I was also planning to start a new novel – “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell. I wanted to read some science fiction for a change in a serious novel.