Tag: Writing

Currently Reading (August ’20)

Currently Reading (August ‘20)

These are the books I wish to finish reading this month. Maybe I will get to read more as well if possible. My reading list for this month.

  1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a horror novella. The story is about a young woman who gets a job as a governess for two mysterious kids on an estate which seems to be haunted. I just started reading it and it has a gothic feel to it because of the descriptions. The young girl who is the narrator of the story is unnamed so far. It is an intriguing read.

2. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a book that details the social experiment Thoreau carried by living in a secluded cabin for two years. I am only a couple of chapters in but, it has a philosophical undertone to it. It talks about the author’s experience with nature and living simply, being self-reliant. It is a little difficult to read because there is a lot of symbolism and depth to the writing.

3. My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin.

My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin is a story about an American Heiress, Cora Cash, who travels to England with her mother to find an aristocratic match. The world in England is different than what she is accustomed to and when she marries Ivo, an eligible but secretive bachelor, her life changes. I enjoyed reading this book so far though I have trouble relating to Cora’s character which I hope will happen eventually. It seems like a fun read.

4. Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts.

Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts is the first book of the Circle Trilogy. A sorcerer named Hoyt loses his brother in 12th century Ireland to evil forces. He is chosen for a mission by the goddess Morrigan and is told he will be joined by five others to form a team to destroy Lillith. Nora Roberts has a way of blending fantasy elements with the reality that it seems grounded. The story and the characters are interesting. I finished almost seventy pages at one go when I started reading.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book covers above.

Book Review: Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly).

Lilac Girls

– Martha Hall Kelly.

This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t easy to find. Finally, I read it and it was worth the wait. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is set in the time before, during, and after World War II. The story of this novel is based on a true account of Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York who helped the Polish women of Ravensbruck camp. The story of Lilac Girls focuses on three main characters – Kasia, Caroline, and Herta who come from different backgrounds and countries but their lives intersect. Caroline helps the medical experiment survivors from Ravensbruck by bringing them for treatment to America almost a decade after the war is over.

Caroline is an ex-actress who comes from a wealthy family and volunteers at the French Consulate in New York City before the war. Caroline and her family have a strong sense of their French roots and enjoy many traditions of their culture. It is also the reason Caroline works dedicatedly at the consulate. Kasia is an 18-year-old girl living happily with her family and friends in Lublin, Poland until Nazi Germany invades Poland on 1st September in 1939 and her life is turned upside down. Herta is studying medicine in Nazi Germany and dreams of being a surgeon but there are restrictions for women in the medical field under the Reich. She is ambitious and determined from the very beginning and has complete faith in Hitler’s vision for her country.

The story is pretty straightforward in terms of timelines and events. The novel is divided into three parts. The first part gives an insight into the background of the characters and this really helped me understand the motivations and personalities of these women. The second part was difficult to read because the main focus of this is the course of their lives during the war. It is not outwardly described in a gory or violent way but it is more about the emotional reactions which get to you. The third part of the story is Caroline, Kasia, and Herta’s life after the war ends.

The characters in the book are what make this novel unique. Caroline does everything in her power to help French children during the war. She does so at a personal cost at times and even when things turn hopeless she keeps doing what she does because she knows this is the least she can do to help. Kasia is a rebellious girl but she wants to help change the situation in Poland. She starts helping the Polish underground in Lublin with the help of her friend and her crush Pietrik. One day she is followed by a German officer after doing an assignment she begs Pietrik for and is arrested. Kasia’s mother and sister Zuzzana, Pietrik, and his sister Luiza who have come to collect the envelope from Kasia are all arrested along with her.

Ravensbruck is where Kasia ends up with her sister and mother, a labor camp in Germany for women. I didn’t know much about this camp and the medical experiments conducted there until I read this book. These women stick together, helping each other stay safe that too at a personal cost. It’s heartwarming to see them help each other this way in a situation where one wrong move meant your death. The experiments were inhumane and the way is written makes us understand the gravity of it. It is at the camp that Kasia’s mother, Halina, is taken under Herta’s wing as a nurse and where Halina dies. This is the only time Herta shows some emotion. Herta is not a fictional character and is based on a camp doctor in Ravensbruck. She believes in what she is doing and it seems like she doesn’t care but somewhere deep down she feels a little remorse for her actions. Most of the time though she is detached and cold focusing only on her medical research with no thought of the human cost.

Caroline has a personal connection to France during the war, a married actor she falls in love with named Paul who is also taken to a camp when France is invaded but survives. Kasia comes back with her sister to Lublin where their father still lives and has trouble adjusting to normal life. She finds Pietrik and he is having a hard time too but Kasia is trying to forget but her guilt about her mother makes her angrier and angrier. Pietrik and Kasia get married and have a daughter who is named Halina after her mother but Kasia doesn’t want her to be named Halina. She snaps at everyone about the tiniest things but slowly realizes she needs to let go. With Caroline’s insistence, Kasia goes to Germany to confront Herta who was released early from prison. Once she confronts Herta and finds out what happened to her mother at the camp that she is finally able to move on with her life and leave all the darkness behind.

Martha Hall Kelly has been able to give a lot of heart to the story through her characters. Kasia and her family are the fictional characters but the story revolves around them in a way and, they are instrumental in telling the story of those Polish women who suffered at Ravensbruck during the war and treated unjustly after the war. It is a beautiful and inspiring story yet it is so sad and heartbreaking.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams).

A Streetcar Named Desire.

–   Tennessee Williams.

A Streetcar Named Desire has been on my reading wishlist since I studied American Literature for my Masters. Finally, I started reading it and it was worth it. This play was written by Tennessee Williams after World War II.

The story begins when Blanche DuBois decides to stay with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. From the beginning, as a reader, you can tell that Blanche is hiding something that she is not okay. The signs that she has anxiety are seen from the get-go especially reading now when there is awareness about mental health issues. Stella is careful around Blanche and she knows her sister sensitive. Stanley Kowalski is Stella’s husband. The first impression of his character for me was that he is practical but that changed later.

Blanche and Stella come from an aristocratic Southern family and lived in a big house called the Belle Reve. Stella leaves the house after she falls in love with Stanley and this leaves Blanche responsible for the estate. Blanche is upset when Stella asks about Belle Reve and admits that the house is lost to creditors and now she has nothing. It does seem like she blames Stella a little bit for leaving everything behind for Stanley. When she finds out that Stella is pregnant, she is overjoyed for her sister.

Blanche and Stanley tolerate each other because of Stella but are constantly at odds with each other. Blanche is rude in the beginning about Stanley’s origins being different than theirs and later simply starts thinking of him as a brute. Stanley goes out of his way to poke at her and make her lose her fragile mental balance, he provokes her. Blanche is constantly on edge and slowly is starts unraveling the things that she has been through. She thinks highly of herself that’s evident but she is also vulnerable and scared most of the time. Mitch is Stanley’s friend who Blanche looks at as a potential suitor because she has always sought the protection of men. Mitch leaves her when he finds out things about her past and even tries to force her.

The characters of Blanche, Stella, Stanley, and Mitch all have their unique characterizations that add to the story. Blanche has a tragic past with her husband Trevor who killed himself after she found out about his homosexuality. It definitely indicates that Blanche feels responsible for his death because it follows the confrontation she has with Trevor. She is considered promiscuous by people in the town of Laurel because she seeks men’s company and that’s the reason she comes to New Orleans. Stanley defines the typical masculinity of the age with his behavior. He gets violent when he drinks and even hits Stella but at times she is the only one he is tender to and it is disturbing to read and understand.

The story of the play, the characters, and the setting come together really well. Even the musical cues while reading play a part in the plot though it might be more effective on stage. She is worried about her age and later she stops going out in daylight so people won’t realize her true age. Blanche is taken to a mental institution in the end but the decline of her mental health is evident as the story progresses; when Stanley rapes her it is in a way the last straw for her. Her understanding of reality and her fantasies blend together and she can’t tell the difference anymore. Stella is distraught when Blanche is taken away and regrets agreeing to it. The end is heartbreaking.

I loved reading this play and it is classic for a reason. The symbolism and the themes are subtly interwoven throughout the play which enhances the reading experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this play but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a must-read.

*Get you own copy from Amazon by clicking on the cover image above.

Life (Poem)

    

Life goes on,

Never stopping for anyone.

Once in a while,

You can’t help but wonder,

If things hadn’t changed.

A deep-seated need to reconnect,

An emotion you cannot comprehend.

You can only wish for another chance,

Make things right but you can’t.

This is a part of the journey,

Even if you don’t like it.

                                                       

Currently Reading (Feb 2020)

I re-read quite a few books last month mixed with a couple of new ones. This month I plan to read only new novels.

1) 1984 by George Orwell.

I have been meaning to read this book for a while. I didn’t feel like reading dystopian fiction so the book has sat on my shelf for a while. The book is published in 1949 and is set in the future year of 1984. I am already a couple of chapters in and I am completely intrigued. The first chapter is eerily similar to our reality, dealing with the privacy concerns of citizens. Once I pick up the pace a little, I feel like I am going to finish this book quickly.

2) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

One hundred years of Solitude is a multi-generational story of the Buendia family. I have restarted this book. Last time I read around 20 pages but then there was such a gap before I started reading it again that I lost interest in it. I am reading this book from the beginning so that it will help me get into the story. The start of the book is a little slow but it is very interesting. Keeping track of all the characters was difficult for me especially remembering who was who and who is related to whom. Once I get past that problem, I think my reading speed will increase.


3) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie.


Bet Me is a contemporary love story that I stumbled upon while browsing. I have read four chapters so far and it has been very interesting. The main characters are unusual but in a good way. Their quirkiness and witty humor are endearing as a reader. Though the book was published in 2004, it doesn’t seem outdated. It is actually fresh in its writing and characterization. I can’t wait to finish this one.

* Get your own copy from Amazon by clicking on the images of the books. 😊

Book Review: Inside the Haveli (Rama Mehta).

Inside the Haveli

 – Rama Mehta.

I read this book a while back when it was part of my syllabus at college. Inside the Haveli is a story of an urban girl Geeta, who gets married to the son of a former prince. She struggles to fit into a traditional and conservative family of her in-laws in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The novel is set in the1970s.

Geeta is the central character of the story and the journey is mostly seen through her eyes. Another important character at the beginning of the story is Laxmi; a maid in the haveli who has lived there since she was a little girl. It is the only home she has known as she was taken in by the family. The story begins with the birth of a girl for Geeta and her husband. Geeta is restless; she hasn’t adjusted to the way things run in the family. She is a well-educated girl from Mumbai and has always lived in an urban and cosmopolitan environment so she doesn’t understand the old customs and practices of her new family.

Laxmi, on the other hand, has grown up in such an environment and doesn’t know anything other than that. Laxmi has a daughter as well. She has been compelled to make certain decisions which she didn’t wholeheartedly agree with and that weighs on her. Laxmi leaves the haveli, her husband and her daughter to see what lies outside the walls of the haveli. She wants to be free.

The plot of the story is pretty straightforward and thus, easy to follow. I liked the flow of the writing. The descriptions of the city of Udaipur, the setting, the workings of the haveli and the atmosphere are apt. As you read, it transports you to that place and time. Before I started reading this book, I was told that it’s a feminist novel with strong women characters. By the end, I realized this was misleading. Geeta is constantly questioning the regressive practices still prevalent in the family. She doesn’t understand the need for such customs in such progressive times but she never argues against it.

Geeta keeps her head down and does what is expected of her even if she doesn’t agree with it. The only time when she questions anyone is when her mother in law plans to get her daughter married before she is even 18 but even that doesn’t lead to anything. That is the precise problem I had with the book, the plot builds up and builds up, whereas a reader you feel something is about to happen but then nothing happens at all.

 As I came close to the end, I started to care less about the story and the characters. Geeta, in the end, conforms to the same traditions and practices wholeheartedly which she had reservations about earlier in the story. How this is a feminist novel I have no idea. It sent a wrong message I think in the end that that one has to conform to the regressive practices of society. Laxmi, who runs away from the haveli, is alluded to; she has suffered because she left. The girl who actually takes a step towards freedom has shown to suffer. Yes, she abandons her daughter which makes her less sympathetic and later she sneaks to her daughter’s school to get glimpses of her. So when you follow the old traditions you are okay but when you leave nothing good comes of it. Geeta being a well-educated person, her choices to start accepting everything as it is was baffling for me.

I was actually interested in the story for a long time. Once I reached the middle, I thought now the plot will advance but all the ideas don’t go anywhere. As a reader, it is very frustrating. It is not a feminist novel, especially not in our times. The end was the most frustrating part of the story and frankly, it pissed me off. Maybe when it was published in the 1970’s it had a different impact then it does now. I liked the setting and the whole atmosphere of the story, the world created in that story has almost disappeared now but overall I liked the book in the beginning but lost interest halfway through.

*Buy a copy by clicking on the image above.

Story on Wattpad: Stole My Heart

This is a story I wrote in 2012 when I was seventeen years old. I had just discovered Wattpad and was completely fascinated with it so I decided to give writing a shot.

I always liked writing but I never went out of way to write anything excpet journal enteries as any teenager would. Its because of this story that today I write; I discovered my passion.

Now, ‘Stole My Heart’ is a love story; set in high school and written by a teenager. I am proud of it so I want to to share it here. Recently, I have started editing it so its not polished yet.

Do give it read and let me know what you think of it. 🙂

https://www.wattpad.com/story/1145452-stole-my-heart-editing

Behind the Walls

Behind the Walls.


Spending every day with walls around my heart,
Now for you, I was ready to knock them off,
With you, everything seems easy even the quiet.
I wanted to let you know how you affect me,
But the walls made me pause,
I wanted you to knock them down for me,
then you would finally see me, the real me.
It was my favorite daydream,
You would be mine and I yours,
No walls, no pretenses, just us,
And happy endings.

Three Days of Storm (Short story)

Part 4 of 4

CHAPTER 4

“How are you holding up?” Rose asked me while she worked on the dishes. After the funeral, the few close people who attended came back to the house for a memorial or whatever it is.

April shrugged. She felt sad, hurt and lonely like a part of her was lost. “Rose, I am fine.” She said firmly and Rose nodded. Soon Adam entered the kitchen.

“How are you feeling?” he asked softly. She sighed, she knew they care but seriously this needs to stop. That’s all she has been asked since last night and it was getting annoying. Her being fine or not is not going to bring Nana back so why bother?

“For God’s sake, I AM FINE. Do you want it in writing?” She snapped at both of them who looked at her with wide eyes, she was always pretending to be in control which was now haunting her. They were expecting her to sit crying in a corner or move on. She knew all she needed was to take her mind off things so she could get through this so she busied herself in the kitchen chores. She took a deep breath. “I am sorry ok? I am trying to deal with this but you guys are not making it easy.” She said scrubbing the kitchen top.

“You should take it easy. You haven’t even sat down since last night, you didn’t sleep and you didn’t eat anything since lunch yesterday. Let me help you.” Rose said taking a step forward. She stepped back and stood still. What was wrong with her? She needed to get a grip. She can do this; she can’t expect someone to take care of her because that person was gone. She started scrubbing again.

Rose took a step towards her and she stopped. “Don’t you guys have packing to do? I mean you are leaving today so are you done with it?” she asked crossing her hands over her chest.

“Umm…no,” Rose said making her frown. “April, actually we are changed plans we pushed our tickets ahead we will leave next weekend” Adam explained.

She raised her eyebrows at them. “Why? Yesterday Rose was so excited to start living with you. Why the sudden change of plans?” She asked.

Rose looked everywhere else but at her. Oh shit, no then it dawned on her they are staying here for her. No way she was going to let that happen. “Seriously, that’s too much. No way I am letting you guys do this. So pack up your bags and leave.” She instructed.

They shook their heads almost making her stomp her foot in frustration. “We can’t leave you now.” Rose said. “You need us right now. We want to stay.” Adam added.

Great now they are actually agreeing wow, that’s pissed her off. “Just leave, I don’t need anyone ok? Go today itself.” She said. They were about to respond but she cut them off. “Please leave me alone, I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.” She stated angrily.

The same instant Kyle entered the kitchen with dishes in his hand. What is he doing here? She thought he left, he gave her a small smile and she remembered how he looked at her yesterday, he doesn’t care, he just feels bad for her, it made her angrier. “Same goes to you as well,” she said and walking past them straight to her room slamming the door behind her.

She curled up in a ball on her bed and let the tears out which she had been holding. This was the first time in hours she actually sat down. Everything was going so fast she didn’t get time to deal with it on her own. She wiped her tears roughly no, she couldn’t cry she shouldn’t, she can do this she reminded herself. After an hour or two of crying and some sleeping, she made her way downstairs to grab a bite. It had finally stopped raining heavily but a light drizzle continued. The whole house was empty, this is what she feared all the way, being alone and that was exactly what happened. She has no family, no friends and no boyfriend to help her get through this mess somehow. She was completely and utterly alone in every human way possible, how was she going to survive? She had no one left who actually cared for her. Adam and Rose must have already left, nana is no more. She felt a pang of pain kick her in the gut. Why was she even alive? She didn’t want to die old with ten cats in this very house. She had nothing left to lose, nothing left to live for.

She picked up her jacket and started walking towards the place where no will ever be able to find her. She was out of breath by the time she reached her regular spot on the cliff overlooking the lake also known as suicide point which was ironic in this situation. She was warm enough so she removed my jacket and took small steps towards the far edge. She looked down and stepped back instinctively, this is what she was here for and now she was scared? She felt like such a loser. She closed her eyes and many memories flashed in front of her eyes. Her parents and her; sitting around the table laughing while having dinner, both of them looking at her with huge smiles. Nana and she eating an ice cream sitting on a park bench a few months ago when Nana was asking me to go and talk to the hot guy. She smiled remembering about her nana and parents, yup, she was definitely going in a better place. All her life she had to deal with people leaving her, she was hurt. She will be with them, never alone again with her family where she belongs. She took a step forward, her eyes still closed. She shouldn’t be doing this. This is crazy she couldn’t do this, could she?

“What the hell are you doing?” A voice asked loudly from behind her making her stop dead in her tracks. She took a step backward and turned around in a quick swift motion almost falling flat on her face.

“Kyle, what is wrong with you?” She asked taking a step towards him “You scared me, dumb ass.” She shouted. He just shrugged settling on a rock nearby. She put her hands on my hips “What? Are you stalking me now?” She asked impatiently when he didn’t respond to any of her comments.

He will never let her be at peace. Off course he had to be the one to ruin her suicide plan now he will think she is crazy not that she cared what thought. She agreed it was a bad move to try jumping off the cliff. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.” He said casually as if he hadn’t seen her almost jump off the cliff.

Taking a hint and he won’t be leaving anytime soon, she sat on a rock next to him. “What do you think you were doing?” he asked in a defeated voice.

She shrugged. “Jumping off the cliff, why?” She asked casually. She acted like she didn’t care if it wasn’t for him she might be dead meat by now.

“Really? I thought you were better than this, strong and mature. Liv always told me how proud she was of you. Being so responsible and all at a young age.” He said bitterly. “Why?” he asked softly.

She froze at the mention of Nana. Did she tell him about her? Was she proud of her? That is so sweet. “I don’t what else to do. I am so afraid of being alone. Everyone promised me that I will never be alone but look at me now. But I do agree this was a bad move.” She gestured to herself and sighed. “When mom and dad died in that accident I was shattered and I didn’t know how to get past this, I was lost and scared. Then nana helped me through it, I depended on her for everything and now that she is gone. It’s just hard to start everything over again and this time I don’t have anyone left to get me through it.” She said. Why did she say all this to him? She had never even said this out loud to herself let alone to someone else but now it just came pouring out.

“You are strong to put this behind you. Rosalie and Adam wanted to help why didn’t you just let them stay? You wouldn’t have felt so lonely.” He said in a low voice.

She sighed. “She was excited to start fresh with him and I didn’t want to ruin it for them. They have to get on with their stuff, they can unlike me. I want them to be happy and not hold them back in any way.” She explained.

“I guess that makes sense. How typical of you though to think about others before yourself” He said softly. They just sat staring ahead without saying anything and what was weird that she didn’t feel awkward for a second. “You know my mom always says hard times don’t last forever. One day if you are sad then there will be a day when you are happy too. Not every day is going to be perfect but if you think that you will be sad for the rest of your life then that’s not true. I know you have had a hard life but I also believe that happiness is just around the corner.” He said and flashed a cute smile.

Her eyes went wide; did Kyle just give her advice? “Close your mouth; don’t want to catch any flies.” He said and smirked. And he was back. “I can be nice.” He said making her smile.

She was processing all that he said but he doesn’t know if it works. She knew he has got everything he wanted he never had to ask twice. “It’s easy for you to say but it’s difficult. I try, I really do.” She mumbled.

He sighed. “I knew you were going to say that. Oh, April sweetie you are so predictable.” He said nudging her playfully. She rolled her eyes but he continued. “I don’t know if your nana ever told you about my mom. She didn’t have a very pleasant past with her dad and mum getting divorced, she lives with her mum and stepfather, stalkerish ex-boyfriend. She has stumbled through it all but now she is happy. See, I gave you a good example. Maybe if she would have given up, I wouldn’t be here” He said.

She never knew this. She means yeah Nana said his mom didn’t have the best life before getting married but she didn’t know anything other than that. Her father had expired due to cancer when she was fourteen. “And you know what I think you are brave and strong then my mum was. If she can do it so can you.” He said. Aww, he is so sweet. “And you have me.” He added with a wink.

She rolled my eyes again but then his face turned serious. “Don’t throw away your life please; if you ever need to talk I am just a phone call away. I know you don’t like me very much but I am not that out of control teenager I was. I will help you and be there for you even if you call me at 2 in the night.” He said tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “You are going to get all the happiness you deserve, you are amazing.” He said and kissed her cheek.

He wiped a single tear that escaped her eyes. He is right she couldn’t throw away her life nana would never forgive her if she did. Nana said to her that she will never be alone and its true Kyle says he will be with her, she won’t be alone she will have him and she was sure she can count on him. He has so much faith that she can get through this then maybe she should have some faith in herself too. She looked into his grey eyes they were worried and honest; she nodded and smiled at him weakly. “I am going to get through this.” She said with a smile. He sighed pulling her in a one arm hug thing and for the first time in the last three days she was at peace somewhat and it was because of Kyle. She wore her jacket again and took the hood over her head to protect herself from the drizzle. She leaned her head on his shoulder and he wrapped an arm around her pulling her closer to him.

End of flashback

“Hey, thinking about the last time we were here?” Kyle asked sitting next to her and giving her a peck on the lips. She nodded and he smiled.

“It was a great night.” He said kissing her temple lovingly. She smiled again. “Yeah, it was.” She said they had sat here and talked for hours.” You had one weak moment in all these years but I still think you wouldn’t have jumped. You are strong, caring, amazing and responsible that what I love about you.” He said kissing her lips softly.

I love you too Kyle, you are pretty good yourself .” She said making him roll his eyes. The last time she was here, she wanted to kill herself in a weak moment but so much had changed in four years. She and Kyle dated for a year before getting married and now they have a daughter who is two. Like she said it was a three-day storm. The first day she got her heart broken by Adam who proposed Rose instead of leaving her in distress. The second day she sulked but nana died leaving her without a family. On the third day, she met the love of her life that had been living next door to her for eight years. Out of everything Kyle was the best thing that happened to her. When she thought she had no one, he came by like a knight in shining armor. It was kind of overwhelming to be heartbroken and then your only support being taken away from you but it made her who she was today.

She has so much hope and faith that you can get out of any situation in life all you need is a little help and support. Four years back when she was sitting here she would have never thought about being this happy, having her own family. Kyle’s parents loved her like daughter, she was completely happy being herself for the first time, she was not scared. She will never forget when Nana said that she will never be alone nana was right. When she lost her, she found her true love though she still misses her and her parents off course she had let them go and it’s in the past. The future looked good and she couldn’t be more psyched about it. She turned towards Kyle who was watching her with a smile. She leaned in and kissed him, she wanted to show him what he means to her and how much she loved him but luckily he responded with the same intensity and passion.