I never like to end a story in two words, but I’m going to end the tale of two bags in two words. I told a friend two episodes in the saga – what I said to my doctor’s assistant and what the delivery boy said to me – which was a mistake because the thrill of telling the tale is gone. Other writers will know what I’m talking about. So to end A Tale of Two Bags in two words: They arrived. The End.
Last time I had confessed that I am averse to making confessions. What I did not confess is that I have a tendency to repeat myself. And so, I confess that I had decided to end this blog. Had I not changed my mind, this post would have been titled “The End” and that would have been the end of that.
I wrote what I thought would be the last post on March 22 and announced to a few friends that I planned to publish it on April 6 or 7. I confessed to making a similar announcement in my first blog proper (“The Fire Thieves”), where I also said that I’d had to eat my words. Alas, I have to eat my words again. (I said I have a tendency to repeat myself.) Notwithstanding my indigestion, I am not going to end this blog. Not this time, anyway.
In the original post, after I’d ended the tale of the two bags in two words, I wrote:
The “end” in the title refers to the end of this blog. Yes, dear reader, this is my last post. (But please don’t stop reading just yet. It ain’t over till the beautiful lady sings.) The decision to end this blog is not one I have made lightly. I rarely make decisions lightly. I usually have a very hard time making decisions, which drives some people mad. (Angry-mad, I mean. I only drive people crazy-mad when I’m behind the wheel. You should hear how they honk.) But this decision wasn’t hard because of my tragic flaw; it was hard because I’ve enjoyed writing this blog so much. Still, if there’s one skill I’ve learnt since I left home sixteen years ago, it’s the art of letting go.
So why did I change my mind? Apart from that Woman’s Prerogative thing, I have two very good reasons. The first arrived on Friday morning, as a comment on a Facebook post.
The comment was from Vishal Thapa, a name I vaguely recognized but couldn’t figure out from where. I jogged my memory and it awoke (which proves how beneficial jogging is). This Vishal Thapa was the brave Indian Army officer I’d written about in my September post (“Blogger’s Block”). I don’t know how he found my blog, but he seemed to have liked what he’d read, and he was kind enough to also like my author page (www.facebook.com/consonantbooks). I thanked him, and since my memory doesn’t always serve even after jogging, asked if he was who I thought he was.
“Yes,” he replied. “I am that one . . . of the many with the same story. . . . Appreciate . . . the fact that you remembered us. . . . God bless you too.”
Two phrases in Vishal’s reply stayed with me all day: “many with the same story” and “the fact that you remembered us.” I thought of “The End,” the post I’d been dragging my feet about, and the thought that ending this blog might rob a reader of some little spark of joy once a month caused a pang or two. My psychoanalytical reader will assert that I’d dragged my feet because I did not really want to end the blog, and for once I will agree with my psychoanalytical reader.
But I’d had several very good reasons for deciding to end the blog, and they all came rushing back. Vishal’s comments, however pang-inducing, didn’t convince me to keep blogging. The clincher came two days later, when I heard someone say that, about two chapters into a book, she skips to the end to the story to find out what happens. This confession was followed by a spiritual lesson I’ve heard before, so while she continued talking my mind collected thoughts on the subject of reading.
When I read, I don’t skip to the end because for me the pleasure is in the reading, the finding out of what happens, not necessarily in knowing what happens. I derive immense pleasure when an author masterfully employs the elements of storytelling: well-developed characters; scenes that can be visualized; interesting settings and themes; vivid language; and a plausible plot. But I can only derive this pleasure as I read. The person who skips to the end of the story will contend that they do eventually read the book, but the point I am trying to make is that when I pick up a book, I am more interested in how the story unfolds than how it folds.
For a true reader, the pleasure of reading comes from living with the tension of not knowing. The reason a true reader wants to spend time with a book, whether they are conscious of it or not, is to feel this tension. Joe Stretch, my tutor at Keele, used to say something about making the reader worry. Much as I love reading, I will put down a book if this sense of tension is missing in the first few chapters.
My 1,000-word limit approacheth, and the word counter reproacheth. And so, dear reader, it’s time for the beautiful lady to sing. I’d originally planned to end this blog with beautiful Vera Lynn singing “We’ll Meet Again,” which had inspired “Some Sunny Day,” the only Pioneer Boulevard story with a first-person narrator. Even though this blog is not ending, I’m going to end this post with that same clip. Because I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.