White Nights…sometimes faith is the only thing a person is holding on to !

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By Shilpa C Nangali

I don’t know why but I am always attracted towards Russian poetry and novels. Alexander Block and Fyodor Dostoevsky writings are very closer to my heart. Even Alexander Pushkin’s poems…Russian poetry is filled with intense emotions, which I don’t know somehow always touch my heart! If there is a time machine, then I would love to go to 1840s and meet all these people 😉

‘White Nights’ is a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This is one of my favorites.This was originally published in 1848. The story starts with an interesting quotation and I could not resist anymore to avoid this story after reading that quotation, below is that quotation:

“And was it his destined part
Only one moment in his life
To be close to your heart?
Or was he fated from the start
to live for just one fleeting instant,
within the purlieus of your heart.”

In the story ‘White Nights’..the narrator says: “My nights came to an end with a morning. The weather was dreadful. It was pouring, and the rain kept beating dismally against my windowpanes”.

These lines are so meaningful and this book is like a medicine for me when ever I am gloomy. I feel books are the best companions in our lives. Such kind of literary works can even heal a wounded heart to a great extent!

The final section of this story is a brief afterword that relates a letter which Nastenka sends him apologizing for hurting and mentions that she would be married within a week. The narrator breaks into tears upon reading the letter. That time any heart reading it will melt just like that..the lines are so heart touching that as u go on thinking of a person’s despair, the broken world of him, leaving him isolate…all that is ………..uhhh I have no words..one should experience all that by reading this story themselves.

I would like to quote the lines by the narrator in the story after reading Nastenka’s letter:

“But that I should feel any resentment against you, Nastenka! That I should cast a dark shadow over your bright, serene happiness! …That I should crush a single one of those delicate blooms which you will wear in your dark hair when you walk up the aisle to the altar with him! Oh no — never, never! May your sky be always clear, may your dear smile be always bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart … Good Lord, only a moment of bliss? Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of a man’s life?”

In 1985, this story was made a movie ‘White Nights’ starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Jerzy Skolimowski, Helen Mirren, and Isabella Rossellini, and was directed by Taylor Hackford. This movie has Academy Award winning song..”Say you, Say me” by Lionel Richie.

Say you, say me; say it for always
Thats the way it should be
Say you, say me; say it together
Naturally

I had a dream I had an awesome dream
People in the park playing games in the dark
And what they played was a masquerade
And from behind of walls of doubt a voice was crying out

Say you, say me…

As we go down lifes lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two
A helping hand – some one who understands
That when you feel youve lost your way
Youve got some one there to say Ill show you

So you think you know the answers – oh no
couse the whole world has got you dancing
Thats right – Im telling you
Its time to start believing – oh yes
Believing who you are: you are a shining star

Say it together… naturally.

One more song is there, which is also nice one. It is “Separate Lives” sung by Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin.

You called me from the room in your hotel
All full of romance for someone that you met
And telling me how sorry you were, leaving so soon
And that you miss me sometimes when youre alone in your room
Do I feel lonely too?

You have no right to ask me how I feel
You have no right to speak to me so kind
We cant go on just holding on to time
Now that were living separate lives

Well I held on to let you go
And if you lost your love for me, well you never let it show
There was no way to compromise
So now were living (living)
Separate lives

Ooh, its so typical, love leads to isolation
So you build that wall (build that wall)
Yes, you build that wall (build that wall)
And you make it stronger

Well you have no right to ask me how I feel
You have no right to speak to me so kind
Some day I might (I might) find myself looking in your eyes
But for now, well go on living separate lives
Yes for now, well go on living separate lives
Separate lives

According to Wikipedia, film adaptations of this story – “White Nights” have been made by Italian director Luchino Visconti, by French director Robert Bresson (as Four Nights of a Dreamer), by Iranian director Farzad Motamen (as Shabhaye Roshan) and by Indian film directors Manmohan Desai (Chhalia (1960)), Sanjay Leela Bhansali(Saawariya), and Jananadhan (Iyarkai).

It is said that when you have come to the edge of all light that you know, and you are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, then “FAITH” is knowing that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will learn to fly. I prefer the latter!

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The Seagull – The Story That Moved Me

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When I read Anton Chekhov’s – The Seagull, I was very eager to enact this classic drama that deals with rejected love, broken trust, romantic triangles, restlessness, frustration, betrayal, and struggle for fame. This drama depicts the conflict between hope that keeps man going in all kinds of difficulties and the same hope that at times is futile and prevents a person from moving on. This drama is a blend of the contrasts in life! It is this portrayal of life that I found endearing in the play and I read it several times. When I first read the book, I did not get out of my bed until I finished reading the whole play. The suicide of Kostya (Konstantin Treplyov) at the end of the play was really tragic! The one thing that I learnt from Kostya’s character is that mere “ideals” are not enough it is only when our ideals have a touch of reality that we can use them to battle all challenges and survive all hardships!

In the play Nina’s character angered me as she rejected Kostya, who was truly in love with her and was dedicated to her till the end! Nina chose Trigorin – a well-known writer, who loved Madame Arkadina, Kostya’s mother! Nina married Trigorin and faced the worst days in her life as her husband abandoned her for his former love Arkadina. Kostya, in turn, never realized an unrequited love Masha had for him! Masha despite getting married to someone else, always had love and concern for Kostya, which she never disclosed to him as she was aware that Kostya loved Nina immensely! At the end of the play Nina talked to Kostya and told him that she was forced to tour with a second-rate theatre company after the death of the child she had with Trigorin. And as she talked to Kostya she got a new confidence in herself. She compared herself to “The Seagull”, the bird Kostya would have killed long ago. Kostya begged Nina to stay with him but she was in such awful confusion that his request meant nothing to her, and she just slipped out quietly from his room. At the end of the play when Chekov describes how Kostya started tearing up his manuscript and shot himself, my eyes welled up with tears!

This is the best written play on a touching love story and a person’s tragic quest for his love! This play is so true to life and so full of real emotions that the actor in me was fascinated by it. I got the much desired opportunity to enact this play when I was 22 years old.

Author: Shilpa C Nangali