I think if I had my way, I would have wanted to meet Harper Lee, and I’d have arranged for our rendezvous at an ornithologist’s tavern. It would have to be fantasy playing out for me as I was amidst the melodious cacophony of the birds, while listening intently to Ms. Lee’s rendition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. It has been years since I’ve read the book, but there’s something about Scout that’s so comforting, as if to me, she was a second cousin twice removed, yet somehow close. I re-read this stunning piece of fiction recently, but this time for Atticus- the apostle of moral and legal righteousness, who continues to stand as a hallmark for lawyers even today. More than a book, it’s been a code that has been practised across the world- bringing a delicate balance in the otherwise black and white of our everyday.

The winner of this story has never been the plot, but the storytelling. A straitjacket story of a widowed white lawyer, known for his love of the law and the deliverance of justice rears his two children, whom he adores to no end. Every page is a subtle epithet of the racial struggle in the 1930s, and its impact on a small town called Maycomb County. Scout and Jem Finch, children gifted with a thirst for knowledge and bravado, along with an innate inquisitiveness. Despite feeling comfortable in their humdrum, they do nothing to surprise you as children of their age given the stage the story was set in. When a coloured man (Tom Robinson) is charged with the rape of a white girl, Atticus takes up his case, upon Judge Taylor’s suggestion. What happens subsequently is a string of incidents that make you question your faiths, perceptions, and notions. “Our courts are the great levellers” is a standing testimony to the unshakeable faith that a common man can rest on the system of justice, ensuring an unbiased and fair (another play on the racial discrimination that the “coloured” have been exposed to) treatment. Statements such as these transcend barriers of time, proving their significance and relevance to our contemporary lives. If I had to pin down on an ‘intended surprise’, it would perhaps have to be Boo Radley- the mysterious character who keeps getting uncomfortably mystical throughout the plot. From the beginning to the conclusion, his appearances are sporadic and indeterminable, until a revelation grows on the reader towards the climax, creating a sudden and indistinct sense of awe and respect for him.

As I had mentioned earlier, this is a story that doesn’t evoke strong feelings that would lead you straight to a Court of Law or spur you to fight for your rights. This is a story that feels like a 6-year old playing hopscotch, while bearing witness to a grave injustice playing out in front of her. A wide-eyed despondent feeling, coupled with an anxiety to tell somebody of what happened. Over the course of time, the helpless feeling is often washed over by an insignificant memory of childhood and replaced by a moderate understanding of what life is all about. Despite our growth, sometimes questions are posed at us just to prove a point- having been instrumental in shaping us and bringing us to who and what we are now. This is not a story of reinless action, but of profound acceptance- a way of life that can never be taught, only read.

20 thoughts on “Druthers

  1. I think you and Harper Lee would have “gotten on” fine. I am from that part of the south but only lived there a short time. To Kill A Mockingbird has to be my all time favorite film because as daddy always said, it depicted the time period and what things were like then, perfectly. It always took me back to what daddy’s life might have been like growing up. He would have been about ten or twelve then. In the 50’s, when I’d go visit grandma, there was still segregation. The only thing I ever noticed (as a child) were separate bathrooms and the back of the bus requirement. We never flew.
    Because I’m mixed Hispanic, I thought I’d feel the prejudice more, but I didn’t, in fact they loved my coloring. One thing I learned and remember is that although segregation was in the south, prejudice existed everywhere. Even here in California.

    1. Wow. That’s really insightful. I’m so glad you dropped by to share your thoughts on this 🙂 Thanks a ton, and do visit The Couch more often 🙂

  2. Impressively done! While I’ve never read it myself, nor intend to in the near future, I’ve watched the film adaptation, and that was amazing too. So I can understand your feelings when you state your love for the book.
    On a separate note, where have you been? I mean are you going to be seasonal? I thought potatoes were a round-the-year thing. Glad to have you back here. 🙂

    1. Blogerray! Thanks a ton 😀 Haha, potatoes are too carby, starchy and give people gas 😛 So it’s best to be consumed in moderation 😀 That snide (typical potato characteristic) aside, I’ll try to stick around more often this time. 🙂

      1. Yeah potatoes are all that, and yet they are a staple of our diet, aren’t they? 😀
        So we need more of our potato here on WP. Stay back. 🙂

  3. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my five top favorite books ever, and I’m so glad you revisited it here. I went to Harper Lee’s real home town of Monroeville, Alabama years ago and saw the little courthouse that looked just as she described it in the book. Ms. Lee was still alive when I was there and lived in her home town, but none of the locals gave out any information about her at all. She valued her privacy, and they respected that. Monroeville is the quintessential Southern small town, and the book that came from one of its inhabitants will live on long after she has gone.

    1. Whoohoo. You met Lee! *whistles in excitement* Aaah I did read in the paper (posthumously) that she regarded her privacy very highly and that she was not a fan of interviews, or any sort of private communication for that matter. It must be a different experience altogether. It makes me want to contrast what her dear friend Truman Capote had so eloquently written in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ about the struggle of a writer, and how he craves for any kind of attention (Especially reading one’s work out aloud). Books move me in such deep emotional prisms, dimensions which I’d never thought existed. So glad to have you over here, Sheila. Do drop by more often 🙂

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