Gilgi ( One of Us) by Iirmgard Keun : A Review that is Not a Review

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I never do this but I’m doing it now. I’m compelled to. My fingers just want to fly over the key board, letting the alphabets take their shape. As words, as sentences and as a story that needs telling. Have you ever felt a kinship so strong with a character of a book that it feels hard to distinguish where you end and she begins? You flow into each other. You are her and she you.  That at that moment when your eyes fall lovingly over the pages to know her, to understand her, you feel you have known her for many eons put together. Because she is you. And you, her. I am only half way through the book and from nowhere the thoughts tumble out of the unknown crevices of my mind. Persistently, urgently, knocking at my heart to be let out.

I am not Gilgi, but  once I was. I see myself in her. I can predict her ever action and the disastrous consequences. My heart bled when she laid eyes on Martin. Martin, who is Gilgi’s antithesis in every way. The moon to her sun, the darkness to her starry lit days and the water to her fire. I wanted to physically transport myself where she was and shake her violently. “I can see you falling for Martin. I know you will. Don’t. Just Don’t. He is your doom. Please" . My plea, however, remained inside me.  Oh what pity it is to be a reader of another era and country ! As if I could control the turn of events if I were in Germany.

I knew the moment he entered your life that it would be changed forever. A change that will make you unrecognizable to the extent that you will not identify your own reflection. Discarded and unwanted, the pieces of your personality would wage a valiant battle to make you whole again. In vain though for something has broken inside of you. Silently and without you knowledge, altering you for eternity. Love, dear girl, is good in doses.. A kiss is just a kiss, enjoyable but nothing more. But you knew that already. Till you met Martin. And then! Boom! You were consumed with such passion for him that nothing else mattered. Nothing else existed. You disapperead somewhere, only existing within his shadows.  The intensity of love blinded you so acutely that you lived for that moment. Moment where Martin was with you, laughing with you, lifting you up from the floor and planting a kiss on his little Gilgi’s cheeks!

Gilgi, you silly, silly girl! What a trade off  it was. You gave up your independence for the helplessness that you wear like a cloak now. Where is that fire, that made you so irresistible? Why, o why did you let it douse by the water that Martin carries within himself. Fool ! Why did you not fight the blackness that oppressed you and threaten every breath you took. The fierceness that made me fall in love with you had   perished a slow death like a tree shedding its yellowed leaves in autumn. Without a promise of  a spring to follow.

Dreams need dreamers to sustain themselves. They are selfish attention seeking things. Death befalls them when the dreamer is not lovingly and passionately arranging them it her slumber heavy eyes. Where did the dreamer in you go Gilgi?  You let it wander away on the path of  love. Fascinated by the first blush, that first skipping of a heartbeat. One doesn’t miss a heart beat, it merely quickens, just like when you jump into the sea without knowing that the high tide with embrace you foir eternity. Love is that sea, it’ll engulf you and you’d be drowned. You are meant to live, not combust. You are meant to follow your dreams, not let them be trampled around by anyone,  Neglected and sad, waiting to be  dreamt again, that unlived dream , those thousands of unlived dreams. There are million rainbows waiting to be chased. Run after them, make them yours and yours alone. They belong to you. The world belongs to you. Don’t let the rainbows slip. Chase. Run. Hold them tight.

I would have exhorted you to walk away from the blistering heat that did not let you be who you are. Sweaty and listless, that’s not the Gilgi I know. Where has the light in your eyes gone . Eyes that saw rainbow in every raindrop are vacant as a cursed barren land which the monsoons  forever evade.  One step, two step. Yes. All you need to do is take a step; keep taking then till Martin vanishes from your horizon. But you don’t. You sit their like a paralysed rag doll waiting for him to fill you with life.

Since when did you seek validation for you are from anyone else but you? Don’t let his twisted, romanticised perception of the world paint your sky grey! He’ll clip your wings , so fly away dear girl. Awaken the seeds of desire that  lie doormat in you. Revolt, rebel, shout! Show signs of life! Alas you do nothing but think of him. I miss you so Gilgi.

You walked out , not as a confident , practical woman  that you were. You walked out with a hole in your being,  a bruised soul looking to be healed. Cutting the umbilical chord of attachment but not yet, just not yet. Don’t break your heart.  Retract, be back. While I wait patiently and hopelessly for you to  reclaim yourself.













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