Friday, 20 December 2013

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou is a beautifully written autobiography that is also very disturbing from the very beginning. I am not going to give the gist of the story, but just discuss things that touched me. 

"I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil."

How deeply ingrained upon the girl should be the idea of the ideal beauty to believe that she should be white and blonde to be beautiful and her present form is a curse. Little girls should dream of achieving something not dream of waking up one day as snow-white.

 “If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.” 

It is disturbing that Two children of ages 3 and 4 are shipped off in a train with tags on their wrists from North to Southern States of America. If you thought, this was an isolated case, the author tells us this is quite normal. Thousands of young children travelled alone by train to either newly opulent parents in North or to South to grandparents. 

"It was extraordinary good fortune to be able to save up one's money and go see one's mother whenever one wanted to."

Its both heartbreaking and something that brings a smile at the child's innocence that with some money you could see you mother in pictures whenever you want. And the person in pictures is not even her mother. 

Her brother is her only companion and friend and she loses him too when they find their mother dearest. Her brother finds a mother, and she finds loneliness. 

What does a child need? She needs to be held, needs human touch, needs some love, which she doesn't get from her parents or grandparents and she feels guilty that her mother's boyfriend abused her, because she wanted him to hold her. It is also heartbreaking that her mother decides to send her back to her grandmother after the incident. She feels guilty too! 

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” 

It is so easy to stop speaking and you can hide behind books all your life. But words needs human voice, beautiful words for those who forget to speak. 

When she is crossing the border, for a moment she thinks, her father is going to sell her for some booze. It is shocking that she could even think about her dad like that. But also it shows that she hardly knows her father. She has not spent much time with him. 

The caged bird signs because it has found its voice. I will just say what Balram tells in The White Tiger, the doors are already open just walk out. 

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