Books / Scribbles

When I found the gem called ‘Cusk’

Her words first came to me when I was at the cusp of anxiousness, fear, and amidst a pandemic: like therapy that I didn’t know I needed.

These were the sort of words usually said by someone close, a confidante: incisive, true, and real. Speaking your mind in a much better way, like giving you a respite from the clutter in your head. The sort of words that make you flinch at first. Move you. You read them again to test their authenticity. And then again for its meaningfulness. In your solitude, they come to you, as if to make their worth seen. They sink in. A weight has been lifted off your chest.

‘But what other people thought was no longer of any help to me. Those thoughts only existed within certain structures, and I had definitively left those structures.’Rachel Cusk, Outline

Cusk found me at my most vulnerable and her words made a home in my heart. A home whose doors I enter to find solace and to retrospect. This adoration towards her work was not sudden or urgent, but gradual. A shift that was driven by curiosity towards her conversing like text. Her writing, I have always maintained, needs to sediment. So its layers are shown. Descriptive and accurate, austerely using colons as separators to her ornate sentences, it withholds a kindred spirit that inspires me to believe in my own.

The perusal of her words is like taking a sip of whisky. A slight burn in the throat, followed by a warmth that eases the senses as it spreads in the whole body. Like truth, like a psychological reality- her disciplined words walking a line of clarity.

She found me then, and she found me now; like a friend who always finds you without you telling them- Where?!

‘But love, she had been made to understand, was ultimately intangible: the thrill was all in her own head – Rachel Cusk, Transit

As I make my way towards catching every nerve of writing in her work, this post will always be a reminder of my first. The first candid picture was clicked by my husband while in the middle of a conversation about the book. He didn’t ask me to stop and smile. He knew better. I did smile later for his shot. Yesterday, the sweltering summer afternoon of yet another lockdown weekend found me sprawled on the floor as I made my way through Cusk’s memoir Aftermath. Both pictures are approximately a year apart, but for me, it has come a full circle.

‘I said that if she was talking about identification, she was right- it was common enough to see oneself in others, particularly if those others existed at one remove from us, as for instance characters in a book do.’Rachel Cusk, Transit