I recently read 'Journey to Ithaca' by Anita Desai. In fact, I finished it last night after binge reading 'The Weary Generations' for an event yesterday. I personally think it isn't a good idea to finish a book at bedtime because your opinion about it is affected by the muggy state of mind you're in. At least that happens to me. As I skimmed through the last few chapters of Desai's book and finally put it down at an ungodly hour, I found myself slightly disappointed. Which is surprising because I love Desai and am a huge fan of almost all her work.
But books have a life and personality of their own. At least most books do and sometimes you truly understand them when you're least expecting. Earlier today I was looking for a notebook to write my present journey through a very special and interesting time of my life. And suddenly, the whole purpose of the novel just kind of hit me. It isn't the end of the journey that matters, I thought, but the bloody journey itself. In all honesty maybe that is a wee bit romantic but often, it's the journey which brings out the best and at times, the worst in us. And every journey is a quest. Whether it is a holiday or visiting family or writing a novel or having a child or embarking on a pilgrimage or trying to lose weight through a 50 day challenge. Each journey tests us in ways we never imagine but we carry on, hoping we'll be better off in the end than we started.
We embark on many journeys in our lifetime. There are some we venture on alone and though we might find other travellers on the way, it is essentially our journey. Writing my novel is somewhat like that and though I have friends who are also undertaking this monumental journey and we are there for each other, each one of us has to travel the long, lonely hours of writing alone. Then there are collective journeys which we embark on with many others (school, university, diploma courses) but as they reach their end, we find ourselves drifting away and finding our own separate paths to start completely new journeys.
I don't know what the joy is in - the journey or the destination. Probably both. Even reading a book is embarking on a journey, you never know how it will change you. Reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen had a huge impact on me, both as a reader and writer, but that is a story for another day. Right now I'll leave you with the poem 'Ithaca' by C.P. Cavafy which inspired the title of the novel. [For the complete poem, click here].
Image: From the book- Journey to Ithaca