Wednesday, March 08, 2006

secret divine secrets

God knows how to love, Kiddo. The rest of us are only good actors.

Forget love. Try good manners.

- Vivi Abbott Walker

(from "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells)

one of the luxuries of life that i sorely miss every time lessons start is the ability to indulge in a good novel while i'm locked up in my room, a cup of cold milo on my bedside table. i've read several novels during this current break, but none of touched me as much as the one i've just finished yesterday.

i bought "divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood" during the times bookshop warehouse sale. i first saw the book in my college library, but never got around to borrowing it. it never left my mind, though, and when i saw it on sale for just rm8 at the warehouse sale, i chucked it into my shopping basket.

i'm sure you'd have guessed from the title that it's about friends who are sisters, daughters, mothers and the other people surrounding the universe we all make for ourselves.

normally i don't like books about mothers and daughters because they remind me that there is still so much of my mother i don't know about. they also remind me that the time i have to find out more about her is running out.

everytime i sit opposite her at dinner, i can't help but notice how thin she's become. i can see the notches on her sternum where her ribs join the breastbone. years ago, she used to tell me that she prides herself on the fact that her collarbones cannot be seen because her flesh rounds out her upper chest. i used to tell her that i am proud of my own defined collarbones. now, hers jut out far more than mine.

however, "divine secrets" gave me a more gentle reminder than most mother-daughter books. i can't even bear to read amy tan these days, but i knew i had read a good book because the moment i finished reading the last page, the only thing i wanted to do was flip the book over and start from the beginning again.

anyway, the phrase that really caught me was "God knows how to love, Kiddo. The rest of us are only good actors", written by vivi in a letter to her daughter, sidda, when sidda announced that she was postponing her wedding because she didn't know how to love.

when i read that phrase it just jolted me because i have never thought of it that way. i've read hundreds of books with endearing phrases and gorgeous use of language but never have i come across a description of love as something only God knows how to do.

but it's kinda true, isn't it? none of us can truly know what love is because we were separated from love the moment eve took the bite out of the apple. all we can do is try to get back to love, imitate it the best we can, know and believe that we are made in the image of love...but the truth is, none of us really know how to love. we can only attempt to.

i was saddened by that phrase. you mean we're only actors? isn't that just miserable? so what are we doing when we care about the people does that mean that when we say "i love you", it's not entirely true?

i'm not really sure how that phrase is supposed to impact me. it made a mark on me and i feel changed, somewhat. maybe because although the character who wrote those words was a bourbon-guzzling, cigarette-smoking one-time child-abuser, i felt that when she wrote those words to her confused daughter, she knew exactly what they meant.

it's just that vivi walker, or rather rebecca wells, decided to obscure the true meaning from the reader, to leave it subject to interpretation. i wish she laid it out in the open.

lishun at 8:59 PM