Gone with the wind

This doesnt flow with anything I write about, but on a cleaning mission today, I found my old copy of ‘Gone with the wind’. How I loved that book when I first read it. I was quite young, maybe 12 or 13. And so a book so vibrant, so detailed in its illustration of a culture long gone, the characters, especially Scarlett, fascinated me. I read the book over and over, begining anywhere in it, and ending anywhere. Reading my favorite sections (which were more the descriptions of plantation life) or such, rather than the romances, again and again. Till my book was a tattered tome tied in a red ribbon. The fact that Scarlett was a woman doing a mans work and winning and establishing herself in the face of a disapproving society pleased my budding feminism. And her coquettish airs were educational in some ways to a teen on the brink of teenage romances 🙂 Like learning that men like batting eyelids, or that looking down shows off your lashes. I think the book shaped some parts of my thinking and personality, and encouraged me to read more.

So when I got a chance to come to Atlanta on an H4 visa I was delighted. Here was the city from my favorite book. And driving through the city – so here is Peachtree street, this is Stone Mountain, oh, so here is Kennessaw. I loved than there were restaurants called Miss Pittypats Porch and such.

Then I joined my job, and one Friday afternoon, I was talking to a friend, a colleague, lets call him BK, who was also African American. I was telling him that finally that weekend, we were going to visit Margaret Mitchell’s house. And he said, very matter of factly, did you know that its been burnt down several times? And I asked why and he simply said, they dont like some of the potrayals there. And then it hit me. This whole issue of insensitivity on the issues of racism or slavery. I had never even thought of it that way. I had just missed that whole issue, becuase growing up in India, this was not an issue I bothered about of faced or struggled with.

And I thought of the weird feeling I got when people said strange things about India or even asked funny questions. It would just be that feeling, only intensified a thousand times more. What if a book portrayed Indians in this tone? We cancelled the trip that weekend. And for years, I could not bear to look at the book, or think about it. I even tried to discourage friends from visiting the Margaret Mitchell house.

But now, strangely enough, after reading about the book on Wikipedia, I can go back to it. Its literature. And brilliant literature. And a portrayal of a way of thinking. And Scarlett’s feminism or flawed magnetism is unique. But I wonder if any of you have had such struggles of loyalty with books you love? Or movies? Or what do you think on this topic?

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1 Comment

  1. Wendy

    I have not had this kind of a transformation but I understand your new perspective. But its freedom of speech and a way of understanding

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