Where the Crawdads Sing

A story of survival

Desertion, isolation, survival, love, lust, sympathy, empathy, sharing, caring and a murder mystery running parallelly – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens has everything. 

This is the story of Kya, a seven-year-old girl who is deserted, first her family and then by society to be left all alone in the little shack by the marsh. Survival is the only aim but with the help of a three individuals Kya makes it to more than just survive. She becomes a part of the marsh lands, the life it holds and gradually an acclaimed expert. The journey from ‘Marsh Girl’, as the townspeople called her, to the expert biologist was nowhere near easy. In fact, quite the opposite.

Living in isolation she barely attracts any attention but for those of Tate and Chase, both at different stages in life and for very different reasons. Having being left alone by everyone, trust was always an issue but she tried to give it one chance. Barely aware of how society functioned, events took unexpected turns throwing Kya back into her shell. The unexpected and bizarre circumstances of the death of the town’s handsome lad Chase Andrews brought on a new set of turbulent events in her life. Life did take a happy turn and end on a fairly happy note.

Where the Crawdads Sing is not just the story of Kya but the marsh life around her. It is about the birds, the waterways, the landscape and their roles in Kya’s life. Along with her story pages upon pages are packed with nature and its ways. The different kinds of birds and feathers, the shells, the beaches, the lagoon and even the little shack in which Kya lives alone for a large part of her life. There is pain and suffering but also hope and healing. What started out as a desertion ended in a small content family. This is the story of the Marsh Girl and the Marsh.

Salt to the Sea – War, Lies, Tragedy

Disclaimer: This is not a book review. It contains my personal views and my reading experience.

  • Guilt is a hunter.
  • Fate is a hunter.
  • Shame is a hunter.
  • Fear is a hunter.

Four individual lives, from different lands, entangled by circumstances. Each one is at war with oneself as well as battling external forces. It is a matter of survival in the direst of conditions. The war is raging and the only way to escape the approaching Red Army is the waterways. 

Wilhelm Gustloff is overcrowded. Overcrowded would be an understatement. While the capacity of the ship was fifteen hundred there are close to ten thousand on board. Add to this a Soviet torpedo attack and the fate of thousands are sealed by the freezing waters.

Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys is another novel set in the backdrop of World War II but unlike any other. It captures the less talked about, but one of the worst disasters in maritime history. Wilhelm Gustloff was a German military transport ship evacuating German civilian refugees from East Prussia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and military personnel from Gotenhafen (now Gydnia in Poland). On 30 January, 1945, after setting sail from Gotenhafen she was struck by a Soviet torpedo and sank within an hour. Over 9000 lives were lost in the icy Baltic waters.

Each chapter in the book is from one character’s perspective. The long walk up to Gotenhafen, the obstacles on the way, a looming uncertainty, fear of being rejected a place on the ship (the only escape), a deep longing to unite with family and arduous circumstances on an overcrowded ship. It is a fight to save oneself but also to stand by the friends acquired on the journey. Relationships are formed and promises made. While some relations survive there are promises that cannot be fulfilled. There is a peaceful ending to the story with an underlying sadness. 

Needless to say, each character is well etched out with their internal conflicts being reflected in their mannerisms. Scenes unfold like visuals being played out before one’s eyes. Be it the trying conditions of the long walk, the crossing across the frozen river, the chaos before and after boarding the ship, the turmoil after being hit by the torpedo and the frantic panic of every character to survive and save the other. 

Like so many other captivating books, this one too stayed with me for a couple of days. Spending time with a good book is like having a close relationship with the book and its characters. While I know this relationship will come to an end, yet it is difficult to get over it. Takes me a couple of days to pick up another book and begin a new journey with a new set of characters. 

This could have happened . . .

BB Daily. Heard of it? These guys contribute to making life easy for an impulsive person like me. Place an order before 10:00 pm and the items will be delivered the next day before 7:00 am. No, don’t get me wrong. This is not a promotion for the brand neither are they paying me anything for writing this (though I wish they were). Anyway, this is regarding what happened after the order was delivered on a given day.

I step out of my flat door at 6:00 am to go for a walk. In the basket by the door the ordered items are delivered – 6 eggs and a bottle of pink Sunsilk shampoo. Yeah, I know, a weird combination but that is beside the point.

I had already closed the door so I decided to collect the order when I returned from my walk. So the basket, with its contents, stayed there.

Half-an-hour later I returned, feeling hot and sweaty with the oil in my hair making it worse. Yes, the shampoo had been delivered and I could go home and take a nice cold shower. With refreshing thoughts in mind, I stepped out of the elevator and what do I see. . .  or what do I not see. The eggs are there but no sign of the shampoo. What was I to do now? I had completely run out of shampoo (thanks to my ill planning) and this bottle was my only hope. This bottle that is no more now.

I immediately rang up the security on the intercom to report the theft. The security also got something exciting to work on in a drab and boring job like his. The very next moment he was face-to-face with me, on the ninth floor, taking down details. Proving his efficiency, he was back within 15 minutes with the shampoo and the thief – a boy in his late teens. He was the newspaper delivery boy. Out of curiosity I asked him why had he done what he did. 

What happened next melted my heart like a hot knife falling on a slab of butter. It was his little sister’s birthday. He loved her and wanted to gift her all the happiness he could gather. Being financially ill-placed, many things were out of reach, even a basic thing like a bottle of shampoo. So that day, when he saw the shampoo bottle in my basket he instantly thought of his sister and could see the happiness a bottle of shampoo would bring her. Added to the appeal was the pink coloured bottle, her favourite colour, like any other little girl. With the smiling and cheerful face of his sister in his thoughts, he quietly picked up the bottle and made away with it. Unfortunately for him, I had seen it delivered and he was traced by the security guard in no time. After all he was the only one having visited our floor in the short time interval.

Could I bring a little happiness to the sister with a bottle of shampoo? I allowed him to keep the bottle and warned him never to do so again. Poor little boy! Must be loving his sister a lot to go to this extent just to see that smile on her face. Love between siblings is so precious. 

All this could have happened . . . only that it did not.

I was mad at the boy for having stolen my shampoo and I wanted my shampoo. How was I going to wash my hair? It was so hot and humid and my scalp was itching with sweat and I had completely run out of hair cleansers. I took the bottle from him and gave him a good scolding. Stealing is stealing and gifting a stolen item was no gift at all.

Nursery Rhymes – Were they really meant for the nursery?

Many of us have grown up singing Mother Goose rhymes. Ever wondered what they meant?

The rhythmical Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary is said to hold historical and religious significance. Sure enough no child would be aware of this and so it brings me to the question, “Was this really meant for children?”

The rhyme goes as follows:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

It started off as “Mistress Mary” and later became “Mary, Mary”.

Among the many interpretations, one says:

  • “Quite Contrary” refers to Queen of England Mary’s unsuccessful attempts at reversing changes brought about by her father Henry VIII and brother Edward VI. 
  • “pretty maids all in a row” could be a reference to miscarriages

Were these rhymes really meant for children?

If You Were Cinderella, What Would You Do

If you were Cinderella, what would you do?

One glance at her, and in her beauty he was lost.

She was his princess and he her escort.

With her in his arms, he waltzed the night through.

Entranced by her looks, from the world he withdrew.

He did not look right, did not look left.

Among all the damsels present, she was the best.

It was her grace, her beauty, her elegance that struck right through.

He had her in his heart and had none other to woo.

And yet . . .

When he had to look for her, he wanted her foot to fit in a shoe?

Her looks were lost to him, of her name he had no clue.

What kind of lover was he to go in pursuit with nothing but a shoe?

And yet she took him, cheeks streaming with smiles and tears,

He was her Prince Charming, and God had answered her prayers.

But . . 

If you were Cinderella what would you do?