Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Show, not Tell …When my face left the words tongue-tied


What happens when your face talks too much? Have you reflected on this question like me, anytime?

Well, this is the question I am brooding on. I have been fairly good at articulating my thoughts but lately, my face is surpassing my articulation skills. Before even I start to sort and adjust the words within me and garnish them with flowery vocabulary, I find someone shining an adequate response to my unasked question. Did my face take the creative writing class lesson too seriously? Show, not tell. And it shows err broadcasts it loudly, abrasively leaving the words tongue-tied.

It happened to me a lot many times. The other day, I was sitting in a restaurant looking squarely at a menu leaflet. I was waiting for my order and it had been 15 minutes since I placed it, but could hardly see anyone inch closer to my table carrying the tray laden with my finger food and espresso. I tried taking in the surroundings and the ambience of the restaurant helped quieten my increasing pangs of hunger and also kept my nerves in check. Just when, I locked my gaze with the staff who was standing behind the counter. No sooner my lips quivered, to ask about my order than I heard him say, “Ma, am, your order will reach you in 2 mins”. He returned a smile and I sat there dumbfounded. No twitch, no pout, no arch, yet my emotions were writ large on my face. I mouthed thank you and withdrew my gaze to stare at the menu again.

As much as I thought my face could be a little mysterious, well it drew a totally different picture. I was sitting, cooped up on a sofa with Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters, when my daughter came running to show me her sketch. As soon as she handed me her sketch book, she snatched it, her big eyes shining and unmistakably satisfied, and without stopping went bounding to the other room while all the way screaming, “thank you for liking it. I love you so much”. For a second, I could not fathom the pleasant yet strange thing that unfolded in front of me. My face did it again. It spoke the unspoken.  

So, here I am, after days of tending and nursing my wounded words which did not get to see the daylight and no one to share their plight, I divined something out of myself, a knowledge that I might be using to my advantage. When face is doing a required amount of talk, in fact it is being a real humdinger, why should I bother opening my mouth.  I can just stand there holding my chin up, face high and people will do the math. So much energy saved, isn’t it? And for the introverted souls like me, it is a bliss incarnate. To tweak Wodehouse’s words “There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, “Does talking matter?””





Monday, December 26, 2022

Breathing reflections


To my space,

It has been a long time since we met. The quiet and the bliss we used to have in the arms of each other, I missed that. And hence, I wanted to step in and make up for it. For the shared times that crept by, in the thunderclaps of daily routine.

Here the winter has started slowly settling in, slowly raising its glorious visage to rule over the sun. Sun takes a downy rest and catches its feverish fervour a little late nowadays. It feels good to sip coffee and soak in the balmy weather before the wild routine waylaid us.

The holiday mood has set in everywhere. Christmas naivety, cribs, barns and star-crowned Christmas tree glimmers brightly on almost every shop window, enveloping the city with a warm, crushing hug. It is like the universe coming together to chase the worldliness and folly, by smiling a little longer and listening to the harmony a little deeper.

With the new year just casting its glance to get embraced by us, it is a nice time to get reflective and retrace the steps that we have taken so far. To know what worked for us and what did not, when we laughed so much and when our tear glands got a jolt etc.

This year was mingled with what used to be normal and the new normal that we were forced to believe in. Though the cloud of the pandemic shifted to pave the clear sky ahead, the detritus of the pandemic lay scattered and it got difficult to clean every speck of it. Can we lay the bygones to rest? Is our spine so steely to march ahead with a glimmer of hope? Yes and no. For, every once in a while, we go back, unearth the grave memories and pause for a bit. It is what makes us human. Our fragile selves are shielded in a hard veneer. But these momentary pause makes us shed the veneer to reveal the chink that is buried inside, away from plain sight.

Every year there are things that we do that make us proud, that make our people swell with pride and opportunities that take us on a pedestal of growth. What are we doing to regard them? Let us not one moment hesitate to celebrate them for if we fail to celebrate, we are creating an air of discontent around us. An unhealthy vibe. So, all we can do is pat our backs for the achievements and happy times that were bestowed on us, before we pile them together, lug them in a trunk and stow them away in a little corner of our house. Let’s regard and respect them. They are sacred.

Now to look ahead with mindfulness and new awareness is the only agenda that can bring everything into harmony. A space where we can breathe with fewer shudders.  

Hope everyone celebrates the year that was and the year that will be.

Happy holidays with warm food, festive glory, fun family time, comfort books and movies, and peals of laughter.








Friday, January 14, 2022

Silence that leaves you speechless - The Silent Patient Review


 Unputdownable thriller and nail-biting mystery. Author just reels you into this masterfully told story. A premise that promises a great experience but at the same time shakes your inner core. A perfect whodunit murder mystery that will set you sailing with a detective hat searching for clues and doubting every character that orbits around the saga.

A larger-than-life painter married to a photographer, lives in a palatial house. One evening, the photographer husband is shot. And not just that, his painter wife who held him last refuses to utter a word. What ensues further makes the people engaged in the search as wild goose chase. Beautifully spun, the tale just pulls you into its labyrinth and Poirot’s ghost just takes over you. Many a times, I stopped to work out the conflict, revisit all that had been said by some characters and draw out some discrepancies in their dialogues or behaviour. But not to get overwrought but just move with the words, I pulled myself together, lo and behold, I was totally left flabbergasted towards the end.

The past lingers in one’s mind way more than what they could imagine. The old scars don’t get flushed out so easily but move within them, shifting hither and thither until there comes a point that they could not withstand any more. Time moves ahead, new unpleasant things visit them, being a last straw that break their vulnerable back. And when that happens, the old scars, not so fresh yet unhealed, re-emerge with more vitality and they break into a tempestuous rage.

This book shows us how sweeping the dust under the carpet is not a permanent solution. A resolution that is put off for future date and slighted, breaking it off the radar, will only bring in more conflicts and some will destroy not only the person but also the people around them. It also emphasizes the point that underlying reason for any cruelty are the plight and ordeals that had been suffered in the past.

It makes me say the quote again “Oppression is the preserve of the oppressed”. Physically tethering someone to something is not only oppression but mentally caging them, making them believe some untruth about themselves, hounding them through their negative self-talk, and more importantly not giving them the love which they were ardently in need of it that time, are also what oppression stands for. It takes one moment to bring in the unsettling feelings that lay benign till date to become malignant.

Brilliant, piercing and will hook you till the end.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Anne of Green Gables - Book Review

Anne of Green Gables - A masterpiece in literature.  Engrossing, amusing and a read that promises to keep you transported for hours.

L M Montgomery has penned an absorbing body of imagination and created a character who gives substance, value and meaning to her literature form. Anne is a gem of sorts, an embodiment of imagination or maybe the word imagination finds a true meaning when it attaches itself to Anne. Anne with an E, ofcourse! That you won’t forget if you have read this novel because Anne won’t let you.

A simple, ordinary story told with simple characters whom you will cherish for lifetime. They will outgrow their simplicity and become extraordinary as you flip the pages. Montgomery has given every character a rope wherein the scope of growth is meticulously chalked out. Take for example, Marilla, a head strong woman who doesn’t feel right to let go her emotion and is strong enough to hold her tongue and not fritter the praises on Anne transforms into a mellowed woman towards the end of the story. Rachel, a lady with a pin point focus on everyone in the neighborhood, is quick to make an educated guess on her saying “Marilla has mellowed a bit” .  Mathew, a shy, timid and ordinary brother of Marilla who has his own way to nurture Anne but doesn’t want to put his oar in and let Marilla chalk out her own course for the child to grow, gathers his wits and endorses his affection in his own way. When he purchases dresses for Anne, the love sizzles and for once, Marilla given how she, stops minding about it. Mathew also grows into being more open and expressive towards the end and sheds his laconic speech and choice of words.  Like these characters, Montgomery has made other characters mature with the story like Rachel becoming more empathetic and kinder towards Anne, or the main protagonist Anne becoming more focused and holds up her flow of imagination so as not to get in scrapes or any turmoil.

Anne has been perused and fruitfully molded and acts as a synonymous to green gables, the most devoured and adored setting in the book. The setting will embark you on a delightful journey, transporting you to the realm very different from reality and deep inside you would want to stay in that setting even after you hit the last page. The old woods, the lush greenery, the hills and the beautiful and innocent brook will occupy all the white spaces in the book making the book ‘setting significant’. Anne with her sky-high imagination, gives pretty names to the setting she routinely encounters. ‘‘I like giving name handles to everything I see and that is so interesting isn’t it’’, this sentence can we forget? Anne with her scrapes gets better and better and joyfully ventures to say that every mistake is making her rise from the ignorance and carelessness. Sometimes she is all fire rain and dew and sometimes she dolefully submits to the petty annoyance of the environment. This bothers Marilla as she puts it “This child might suffer in future as she is not able to take joy and pain with balance” But then Anne grows and that is so relatable as every human past their childhood and shy of adulthood would have experienced this exciting tumult of emotions and growing years mellows the behavior.

Anne also has world of wisdom to share and that she sends out by bringing Rachel Lynde into the picture. As children cannot wax eloquent the wise thoughts or it may sound unimaginable/unbelievable to the readers, Rachel, a dignified matron, sounds believable and readers could attach credence and naturalness to the words written. So thoughtful for the author to have taken that approach.

If a simple and lonesome neighborhood has so much scope of imagination, can’t we follow in Anne’s footsteps and employ our imagination to the surrounding we live and engage ourselves in. Wouldn’t that be fun and for children who aim to give wings to their imagination, this novel should be read and reread.

Bonus - A manual of Parenting tips unleashed

So this book is not only about imagination and carefree spirit, the eponymous heroine Anne but also offers a sneak peak on parenting tactics.

To put the oar only if it is needed - Too many cooks spoil the broth or too many voices dilute the essence of the message, are the messages which Montgomery is trying to say through the character Mathew. Mathew stays silent in most of the story when it comes to taking charge of parenting roles. He lets Marilla take charge and reins in her own hands and only interferes a little. Why is it so? Children need to be taught good behaviour and charitable manners and if there are multiple voices interfering in the process, they tend to get lost and confused. If a parent is trying to make a point, let there not be any interference from grandparent or aunty or uncle or any other caregiver, let the message be directly addressed from parent to child. Rest of them can wait to give their opinion. Too many opinions and ideas thrown in the court of a child does not augur well for their conduct and development. Montgomery emphasizes on this point time and again in the book which is very essential and relevant in all times. It doesn't come across direct or matter of fact in the read but can be gleaned when parsed through the lines effectively. 


Monday, November 23, 2020

Snapshot of my story for a fiction project /Magazine


Maya gave an involuntary shake as that memory flashed in front of her. She remembered every small detail of that everyday ritual. How could she not! She used to get restless to see Satish and desperately wait for those magnolias he gave her. Jaya always envied her and she went all green-eyed looking at those magnolias in her hair. That was so childish of them, she thought. Nevertheless the memory gave a reason to put a smile on her face. That face which lost the path of smiles and embraced a perennial frown.

With the letter on one hand, she got up to examine those magnolias that they planted it together. They were given by Satish’s aunt on his birthday and what did he do with that. He urged Maya to take it with her and when she gently rebuked him for giving his own birthday gift, he came along with her post school hours and planted it on his own. Robbed off all plausible excuses, she had to submit to him and his childlike requests.

The bright little magnolias winked at her, swaying to the tunes of the wind, seated like a crownless queen among the profusion of flowers in her terrace garden. She picked one and inhaled the scent of it. The scent assaulted her senses and took her to the world unknown. Really Magnolias had magic, she deciphered. She took one hair pin and pressed the magnolia stem and slid between the teeth of the pin. Gently, she pinned it on her hair.

Examining the beauty of magnolia sitting on her hair, she felt like a class 10th student again. Standing in front of Satish with Jealous Jaya by her side.

And what about those magnolias that stood the test of the day? Were they still treasured?

Maya opened the chest of drawers. The worn-out wooden furniture rattled making a grating noise. A brown coloured little diary belched its stomach as numerous sheets were pressed inside its thin figure.

The withered magnolias were prisoned inside the diary away from human eye. Bringing them to her nose and inhaling the remnant of their fragrance, she was transported to the different world altogether. Like the coffee dregs in a mug, these little memories stood tethered to her. Only difference is the water washes off the dregs but here nothing could wash off those memories. Certainly not!

Poetic Saturdays - The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth

 Once upon a time a frog

Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn
Other creatures loathed his voice,
But, alas, they had no choice,
And the crass cacophony
Blared out from the sumac tree
At whose foot the frog each night
Minstrelled on till morning night

Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.
Insults or complaints or bricks
Stilled the frogs determination
To display his heart's elation.
But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody
Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog
And the whole admiring bog
Stared towards the sumac, rapt,

And, when she had ended, clapped,
Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded
And a solitary loon
Wept, beneath the summer moon.
Toads and teals and tiddlers, captured
By her voice, cheered on, enraptured:
"Bravo! " "Too divine! " "Encore! "
So the nightingale once more,
Quite unused to such applause,
Sang till dawn without a pause.

Next night when the Nightingale
Shook her head and twitched her tail,
Closed an eye and fluffed a wing
And had cleared her throat to sing
She was startled by a croak.
"Sorry - was that you who spoke? "
She enquired when the frog
Hopped towards her from the bog.
"Yes," the frog replied. "You see,
I'm the frog who owns this tree
In this bog I've long been known
For my splendid baritone
And, of course, I wield my pen
For Bog Trumpet now and then"

"Did you… did you like my song? "
"Not too bad - but far too long.
The technique was fine of course,
But it lacked a certain force".
"Oh! " the nightingale confessed.
Greatly flattered and impressed
That a critic of such note
Had discussed her art and throat:
"I don't think the song's divine.
But - oh, well - at least it's mine".

"That's not much to boast about".
Said the heartless frog. "Without
Proper training such as I
- And few others can supply.
You'll remain a mere beginner.
But with me you'll be a winner"
"Dearest frog", the nightingale
Breathed: "This is a fairy tale -
And you are Mozart in disguise
Come to earth before my eyes".

"Well I charge a modest fee."
"Oh! " "But it won't hurt, you'll see"
Now the nightingale inspired,
Flushed with confidence, and fired
With both art and adoration,
Sang - and was a huge sensation.
Animals for miles around
Flocked towards the magic sound,
And the frog with great precision
Counted heads and charged admission.

Though next morning it was raining,
He began her vocal training.
"But I can't sing in this weather"
"Come my dear - we'll sing together.
Just put on your scarf and sash,
Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
So the frog and nightingale
Journeyed up and down the scale
For six hours, till she was shivering
and her voice was hoarse and quivering.

Though subdued and sleep deprived,
In the night her throat revived,
And the sumac tree was bowed,
With a breathless, titled crowd:
Owl of Sandwich, Duck of Kent,
Mallard and Milady Trent,
Martin Cardinal Mephisto,
And the Coot of Monte Cristo,
Ladies with tiaras glittering
In the interval sat twittering -
And the frog observed them glitter
With a joy both sweet and bitter.

Every day the frog who'd sold her
Songs for silver tried to scold her:
"You must practice even longer
Till your voice, like mine grows stronger.
In the second song last night
You got nervous in mid-flight.
And, my dear, lay on more trills:
Audiences enjoy such frills.
You must make your public happier:
Give them something sharper snappier.
We must aim for better billings.
You still owe me sixty shillings."

Day by day the nightingale
Grew more sorrowful and pale.
Night on night her tired song
Zipped and trilled and bounced along,
Till the birds and beasts grew tired
At a voice so uninspired
And the ticket office gross
Crashed, and she grew more morose -
For her ears were now addicted
To applause quite unrestricted,
And to sing into the night
All alone gave no delight.

Now the frog puffed up with rage.
"Brainless bird - you're on the stage -
Use your wits and follow fashion.
Puff your lungs out with your passion."
Trembling, terrified to fail,
Blind with tears, the nightingale
Heard him out in silence, tried,
Puffed up, burst a vein, and died.

Said the frog: "I tried to teach her,
But she was a stupid creature -
Far too nervous, far too tense.
Far too prone to influence.
Well, poor bird - she should have known
That your song must be your own.
That's why I sing with panache:
"Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
And the foghorn of the frog
Blared unrivalled through the bog.


This poem by Vikram Seth, a popular author and poet, starts with the usual fairy tale phrase ‘Once upon a time’ to engage us and hook us into the poem. The message is in the details so let’s go inch by inch to get closer to the mountain of wisdom that it offers.

There are two main characters in the poem – Frog and Nightingale. All other creatures are part of the narrative.

The frog used to sing from dusk to dawn in its harsh and unpleasant voice. Certainly, other creatures did not have any good thing to say about his voice. They detested the very sound of it and they suffered greatly from his crass cacophony. The humiliation and insults, the gruesome remarks by other animals did not bother the frog as it went on with its singing routine.

It went on for days but for one night. The night which made the frog uncomfortable in its own lodging. That was the night when the sweet nightingale started larking with its sonorous voice. Perched on the sumac tree, the melody spread far and beyond and the entire animal kingdom whispered, clapped, cheered and sang praises after the song ended. The song invited attention from all the creatures from toads to ducks. They extolled and exclaimed praises with the words like ‘Divine, Bravo and Encore’. The nightingale was pleased by the applauding ceremony and decide to lend its voice again without a pause.

The next night when she started to sing with her closed eye, the frog intervened. Alarmed by the grated croak, the nightingale met the frog who chose to not take this thing lightly. The frog started blowing its trumpet and boastfully exposed its position in the forest. Nightingale, not knowing the nature and hidden agenda of the frog, did not distance herself, but asked the feedback and suggestions of any improvement. The frog, noticing the meek demeanour of the sweet bird, offered to guide and train.

The morning after, the frog commenced the training and in the name of the training abused the nightingale. The nightingale was not only exploited for the tutoring fees but the frog criticised every effort of the bird. The nightingale did not recognize the malicious intent of the frog and kept on working hard to suit to the taste of the abuser. Then a day came when the nightingale could bear no more and started feeling sad and disinterested. The creatures lost interest on such a sad voice.

The frog ultimately insulted the nightingale with a words that seared the bird badly. The tears streamed down and the little bird sobbed profusely. Shaking with fear, the bird puffed up once more but the death snatched away the bird and her sweet voice.

Well, the frog was too proud to take on the guilt and own the crime. Instead, it pour more insults on the little bird. The last stanza spoken by the frog makes us think deeply. The words “That your song must be your own – She should have known”. How accurate! One should never try to get so influenced by another that he loses himself in the process. The frog couldn’t bear the sight of one more creature with a singing talent far superior than its own. The frog hatched a plan to destroy the nightingale. And the nightingale, a meek character in this allegory submitted not knowing the details behind the plan. 

Let’s plumb the depth of this poem:

This poem tells us to believe in ourself, our own strength and do not get overly influenced by others. We should have confidence and faith in our capabilities and strengths. We shouldn’t get easily swayed by others opinions or criticisms. The nightingale was a submissive type who easily believed in the external influence and overlooked her own talent.

Also, it is very easy to tell others and judge others but we need to look within ourselves. To know if we are capable enough in that particular subject to give a constructive feedback. The frog was not talented enough but behaved as if he is and continued to give unhealthy opinion and that did not go down well with the little bird. The little bird was not capable enough to identify the malicious intent not it could manage to know that the frog had a poor voice.

Bullying are of different types. This poem portrays verbal bullying, showing uppity/one up-man ship and dictating terms to the less powerful character. Be vigilant of this kind of bullying. Do not be friends with this kind of company where you will be ill-treated and be looked down upon.

The frog was very wrong in taking advantage of the poor nightingale. The frog did know, from the insults that came on his way, that he was not talented enough to sing, yet his conceit blinded him. He went on singing. When the nightingale sat on his throne, the frog should have known that the bird had a supreme quality and far better than him. We can have aspirations to become an artist, a singer, a dancer or a phenom in any other field. Sometimes, we put lot of effort to become one but not always it clicks. Maybe because we are not made for that field or it is not our cup of tea. The frog, not knowing this, did all the ill things. We can stop comparing ourselves to oranges when we are apples ourselves. We can stop comparing our children to the next-door neighbour’s children, taking this as cue.

Every effort we put cannot have to be converted into reality at the stroke of midnight. Every effort of today can bear fruit the next minute, the following day, one year later, or it can take many years. We should not lose hope but be consistent in our work.

The nightingale though it stated ‘"I don't think the song's divine.
But - oh, well - at least it's mine", did not stick to this statement as it felt dejected and discontented with no praises coming on her way. She should have been firm and sang only for her heart’s content. Only for her happiness and satisfaction. This gives us one more reason not to miss this poem as it emphasizes on the key aspect of ‘If you like doing something, do it, more for yourself; try not to think or worry what others think about it’.  








Monday, November 2, 2020

Poetic Saturdays - Analysis of 'The School Boy' by William Blake


William Blake brought in usual naturalness (which was also one of the themes of that era) in this poem. A boy dons the hat of first-person and exhibits his boredom in the structured format of schooling. He prefers to explore in the wilderness, with the fragrance of the blooms, and with the chirping raga of feathered creatures or in the mountain wastelands.

 He finds joy and comfort in the routine undertakings of the morning when he says in the first stanza  “I love to rise in the summer morning, the distant huntsman winding the horn and the skylark sings with me”. 

The second stanza drives the joy away from the boy’s mood when he thinks about how he, along with his mates, will be forced to be observed under the cruel eye (which can mean a teacher in this parlance). And he doesn’t want that to happen.

The boy stresses on the problems of formal learning and thinks that there is nothing that he cannot learn in the natural world. Schooling stifles innate imagination and joy of learning, is the thought behind his verses.

He goes on describing the climate of the structured learning. He sits ‘drooping’ hunched over his bench. There is no joy in drowning in the affairs of the books. He wants to be free in the open space which he is not able to do with the heavy downpour ‘dreary shower’ being the obstacle in his way.

The fourth stanza is a reality check for the reader. The boy compares himself with a bird. Certainly, a bird is born for joy but how can it find one if it is caged. Can it throw its sonorous voice or can it fly away freely, all siting cooped up in a cage? The cage is a metaphor here drawing a parallel to the school. The school, like a cage, spoils the creativity and limits the creative freedom to the children.

The boy even addresses his conflict to his parents.  He uses new buds as metaphor. Can a bud be nipped in the infancy meddling with the joy that they are born to exude? Can a tender child be disallowed to enjoy and fancy a similar joy? Can his parents change the course of this situation? He clearly doesn’t understand if they are equipped to, but still he wants them to see some sense in his entreaties. The yearning for carefree joy and exploration still remains alive in the boy’s mind. And towards the end of poem, he clearly does not achieve any satisfaction or solution but he expresses his thought on his routine life.

A structured format of learning poses barrier to creativity. This has been achieved by many poets and not only Blake. The tendency to romanticize the nature element can be found in many poems in the period of Romanticism. You can find a poem by William Wordsworth ‘ The Tables Turned’ which is also of the Romantic age. That poem too like Blakes’ puts an emphasis on educating ourselves through the medium of nature.

 “Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; come to the nature, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives – This stanza in that Woodsworth’s poem strikes a chord with this school boy in Blake’s poem.

Even this was somewhat true when we were in schools. The methods were not innovative but stressed more on textbook approach. Right now, the pedagogy sees some change. The core skills and key learning concepts are devised in a way that they enjoy it with experiments and more tactile based approach.  Now there is more application over conservative approach that we all were used to in our times. Many of us have looked our school journey through this boy’s eyes. Change was very far off but it was not impossible. Yet the system did not welcome any new strategy. Right now, even with the technology and new improvised methods, the rat race has not stopped. Ultimately, children are met with the pressure and turmoil in one way or other, leading to withering of interest. Sometimes, the faculties are not given enough creative freedom to innovate and with the lack of motivation and time constraint, the learning methodology suffers.

Coming to this poem, the school boy teaches us to keep our eyes open and have a relationship with nature. There is always a way to include environmental exploration in the method of learning. The responsibility can be shared between educators and parents, both collectively. There is no end to learning and learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings and children walk off from school. It continues and will continue for lifetime. Also let’s give some respite to this fictional school boy and keep the light of learning ignited when we travel to some place or when we are with the nature. Mindfulness is the key.



Show, not Tell …When my face left the words tongue-tied

  What happens when your face talks too much? Have you reflected on this question like me, anytime? Well, this is the question I am broodi...