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Life Of Pi by Yann Martel

August 13, 2015

LOP2‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?’ goes the hymn. Well, yes, if you have a broad enough belief like the protagonist in a very real storm.

The stuff about the balance of good and evil, or good versus the enemy, or yin and yang – they need each other in tension.

Having taught Religious education for 30 Years and then advised other teachers for another 11 years, I am always interested in how other people deal with world religions.

Pi is a Hindu vegetarian. When he is fourteen-years-old, he investigates Christianity and Islam, and decides to follow all three religions, much to his parents′ dismay, saying he ″just wants to love God.″ He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion, and comes to recognize benefits in each one. (He stumbled one day into a hill-town church and was captivated. A friendly priest ‘led the little boy to Christ’, and ever after, Pi tells us, he could not help thanking Lord Krishna for sending Jesus his way. A similar encounter in a mosque rendered Pi a worshipper in three different traditions. He tells us that since then – and despite the ordeal of the shipwreck – he has been a believer; Martel is already announcing his real theme: ‘It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw,’ Pi says, ‘but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane . . . but we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.’)

When Pi’s priest, imam and pandit accidentally meet on the street. Pi is a little embarrassed. It’s a bit like all the different aspects pf your life coming together on Facebook. But the three religious leaders end up looking like the ridiculous ones. They all vie for Pi’s loyalty and insist he must choose one religion. His response is a complex statement for such a young boy. Pi watches helplessly as the proprieties and customs of religion battle it out. Pi doesn’t believe religion is about any of those things.

He later suffers shipwreck when his parents are taking him to Canada. During his suffering, Pi often comes close to losing hope. But his faith, formed in earlier, easier days, is hard-won and hard-fought. It comes to have both an element of lightness and the weight of struggle.

When lightning strikes the ocean, one infinite thing – the sky – has come in contact with the seemingly infinite ocean. Earlier, Pi describes the way the divine in humans seeks the divine in nature.

Richard Parker, the creature who constantly threatens Pi’s life, eventually provides Pi with rich companionship. Pi takes a major tribulation and turns it into a spiritual gift. It’s as if Pi is also saying: God, who has a very, very forbidding presence, can be peace, wholeness, and a lot of other happy things.

The characters in Life of Pi are continually fixated on food and water. Ironically, the lifeboat is surrounded by food and water; however, the salty water is undrinkable and the food is difficult to catch. Pi constantly struggles to land a fish or pull a turtle up over the side of the craft, just as he must steadily and consistently collect fresh drinking water using the solar stills. The repeated struggles against hunger and thirst illustrate the sharp difference between Pi’s former life and his current one on the boat. In urban towns such as Pondicherry, people are fed like animals in a zoo—they never have to expend much effort to obtain their sustenance. But on the open ocean, it is up to Pi to fend for himself. His transition from modern civilization to the more primitive existence on the open sea is marked by his attitudes toward fish: initially Pi, a vegetarian, is reluctant to kill and eat an animal. Only once the fish is lifeless, looking as it might in a market, does Pi feel better. As time goes on, Pi’s increasing comfort with eating meat signals his embrace of his new life.

Throughout the novel, characters achieve comfort through the practice of rituals. Animals are creatures of habit, as Pi establishes early on when he notes that zookeepers can tell if something is wrong with their animals just by noticing changes in their daily routines. People, too, become wedded to their routines, even to the point of predictability, and grow troubled during times of change. While religious traditions are a prime example of ritual in this novel, there are numerous others. For instance, Pi’s mother wants to buy cigarettes before traveling to Canada, for fear that she won’t be able to find her particular brand in Winnipeg. And Pi is able to survive his oceanic ordeal largely because he creates a series of daily rituals to sustain him. Without rituals, routines, and habits, the novel implies, people feel uneasy and unmoored. Rituals give structure to abstract ideas and emotions—in other words, ritual is an alternate form of storytelling.

The colour orange symbolizes hope and survival. Just before the scene in which the Tsimtsum sinks, the narrator describes visiting the adult Pi at his home in Canada and meeting his family. Pi’s daughter, Usha, carries an orange cat. This moment assures the reader that the end of the story, if not happy, will not be a complete tragedy, since Pi is guaranteed to survive the catastrophe and father children of his own. The little orange cat recalls the big orange cat, Richard Parker, who helps Pi survive during his 227 days at sea. As the Tsimtsum sinks, Chinese crewmen give Pi a lifejacket with an orange whistle; on the boat, he finds an orange lifebuoy. The whistle, buoy, and tiger all help Pi survive, just as Orange Juice the orangutan provides a measure of emotional support that helps the boy maintain hope in the face of horrific tragedy.

Pi (shortened from Piscine, teased at school as ‘Pissing’), who is now grown up and living in Canada, recounts his Indian life with a childlike ingenuity.

In a 2002 interview, Martel said “I was sort of looking for a story, not only with a small ‘s’ but sort of with a capital ‘S’ – something that would direct my life.” He spoke of being lonely and needing direction in his life, and found that writing the novel met this need.

 Martel described his novel as one ‘that will make you believe in God’.

Martel mentioned a book review he read of Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar’s 1981 novella Max and the Cats and that this accounts in part for his novel’s premise. Scliar’s story describes a Jewish-German refugee crossing the Atlantic Ocean with a jaguar in his boat. Scliar said that he was perplexed that Martel “used the idea without consulting or even informing me,” and indicated that he was reviewing the situation before deciding whether to take any action in response. After talking with Martel, Scliar elected not to pursue the matter.

 According to Gordon Houser there are two main themes of the book: “that all life is interdependent, and that we live and breathe via belief.”

This is not a book for those who fear pluralism and insist on ‘the uniqueness of Christ’.

 ‘Catholic Hindus get to feel guilty before hundreds of gods….I came to faith through Hinduism and found God’s love through Christianity but God had not finished with me yet…convert to all religions and you’ll spend your whole life on holyday…..in the Father’s house are many rooms, including lots of room for dout’ – what’s not to like?

But then again, ‘Believing in everything is the same as believing in nothing at all.’

LOPQuotations:

I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at sloths in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of my scientific probing.

I remained faithful to my aquatic guru. Under his watchful eye I lay on the beach and fluttered my legs and scratched away at the sand with my hands, turning my head at every stroke to breathe. I must have looked like a child throwing a peculiar, slow-motion tantrum. In the water, as he held me on the surface, I tried my best to swim. It was much more difficult than on land.

A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed, was sown in me and left to germinate. It has never stopped growing since that day.

I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”

It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness.

I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.

Much becomes expendable. You get your happiness where you can. You reach a point where you’re at the bottom of hell, yet you have your arms crossed and a smile on your face, and you feel you’re the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because at your feet you have a tiny dead fish.

“Praise be to Allah, Lord of All Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Ruler of Judgment Day!” I muttered. To Richard Parker I shouted, “Stop your trembling! This is miracle. This is an outbreak of divinity. This is…this is…” I could not find what it was, this thing so vast and fantastic.

By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken. I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.

[Pi:] “The arrogance of you big-city folk! You grant your metropolises all the animals of Eden, buy you deny my hamlet the merest Bengal tiger!”

[Mr. Okamoto:] “Mr. Patel, please calm down.”

[Pi:] “If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?”

[Mr. Okamoto:] “Mr. Patel – ”

[Pi:] “Don’t you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”

But I don’t insist. I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

“Religion will save us,” I said. Since when I could remember, religions had always been close to my heart.

“Religion?” Mr. Kumar grinned broadly. “I don’t believe in religion. Religion is darkness.”

Darkness? I was puzzled. I thought, Darkness is the last thing that religion is. Religion is light. Was he testing me? Was he saying, “Religion is darkness,” the way he sometimes said in class things like “Mammals lay eggs,” to see if someone would correct him? (“Only platypuses, sir.”)

Brahman saguna is Brahman made manifest to our limited senses, Brahman expressed not only in gods but in humans, animals, trees, in a handful of earth, for everything has a trace of the divine in it. The truth of life is that Brahman is no different from atman, the spiritual force within us, what you might call the soul. […]. The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite. If you ask me how Brahman and atman relate precisely, I would say in the same way the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit relate: mysteriously.

But we should not cling! A plague upon fundamentalists and literalists! I am reminded of a story of Lord Krishna when he was a cowherd. Every night he invites the milkmaids to dance with him in the forest. They come and they dance. The night is dark, the fire in their midst roars and crackles, the beat of the music gets ever faster – the girls dance and dance and dance with their sweet lord, who has made himself so abundant as to be in the arms of each and every girl. But the moment the girls become possessive, the moment each one imagines that Krishna is her partner alone, he vanishes. So it is that we should not be jealous with God.

I know a woman here in Toronto who is very dear to my heart. […]. Though she has lived in Toronto for over thirty years, her French-speaking mind still slips on occasion on the understanding of English sounds. And so, when she first heard of Hare Krishnas, she didn’t hear right. She heard “Hairless Christians”, and that is what they were to her for many years. When I corrected her, I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.

The pandit spoke first. “Mr. Patel, Piscine’s piety is admirable. In these troubled times it’s good to see a boy so keen on God. We all agree on that.” The imam and the priest nodded. “But he can’t be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim. It’s impossible. He must choose.”

“I don’t think it’s a crime, but I suppose you’re right,” Father replied.

The three murmured in agreement and looked heavenward, as did Father, whence they felt the decision must come. Mother looked at me.

A silence fell heavily on my shoulders.

“Hmmm, Piscine?” Mother nudged me. “How do you feel about the question?”

“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God,” I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face.

There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.

During those days of plenty, I laid hands on so many fish that my body began to glitter from all the fish scales that became stuck to it. I wore these spots of shine and silver like tilaks, the marks of colour that we Hindus wear on our foreheads as symbols of the divine.

I practised religious rituals that I adapted to the circumstances – solitary Masses without priests or consecrated Communion Hosts, darshans without murtis, and pujas with turtle meat for prasad, acts of devotion to Allah not knowing where Mecca was and getting my Arabic wrong. They brought me comfort, that is certain. But it was hard, oh, it was hard. Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love – but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.

″Life is a story… You can choose your story… A story with God is the better story.″

“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?”

I am a Hindu because of sculptured cones of red kumkum powder and baskets of yellow turmeric nuggets, because of garlands of flowers and pieces of broken coconut, because of the clanging of bells to announce one’s arrival to God, because of the whine of the reedy nadaswaram and the beating of drums, because of the patter of bare feet against stone floors down dark corridors pierced by shafts of sunlight, because of the fragrance of incense, because of flames of arati lamps circling in the darkness, because of bhajans being sweetly sung, because of elephants standing around to bless, because of colourful murals telling colourful stories, because of foreheads carrying, variously signified, the same word – faith.

uddenly a bolt struck much closer . . . There was an explosion of hot air and hot water. For two, perhaps three seconds, a gigantic, blinding white shard of glass from a broken cosmic window danced in the sky, insubstantial yet overwhelmingly powerful. Ten thousand trumpets and twenty thousand drums could not have made as much noise as that bolt of lightning; it was positively deafening. The sea turned white and all colour disappeared. Everything was either pure white light or pure black shadow. The light did not seem to illuminate so much as to penetrate. As quickly as it had appeared, the bolt vanished – the spray of hot water had not finished landing upon us and already it was gone. The punished swell returned to black and rolled on indifferently.

‘High calls low and low calls high. I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts . . . It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was, in the throes of unremitting suffering, I should turn to God.’ Or turn away from God?

“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can.”

“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”

“These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy…walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, ‘Business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.”
“You can get used to anything – haven’t I already said that? Isn’t that what all survivors say?”
“Can there be any happiness greater than the happiness of salvation?”

“Don’t you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.”
“I love Canada…It is a great country much too cold for good sense, inhabited by compassionate, intelligent people with bad hairdos.”
“My greatest wish — other than salvation — was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One I could read again and again, with new eyes and a fresh understanding each time.”
“It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I’ve made none the champion.”
“Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.”
“I couldn’t get Him out of my head. Still can’t. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me, the less I coul forget Him. And the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him.”
“Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.”
“Life is a peephole, a single tiny entry onto a vastness–how can I not dwell on this brief, cramped view of things? This peephole is all I’ve got!”
“Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? … The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.”
“Things didn’t turn out the way they’re supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”
“Why can’t reason give greater answers? Why can we throw a question further than we can pull in an answer? Why such a vast net if there’s so little fish to catch?”
“It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.”
“My suffering left me sad and gloomy.”
“I thought they were helping me. I was so full of trust in them that I felt grateful as they carried me in the air. Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts.”
“It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even to killing.”
“Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, he was watching. Even when he seemed indifferent to my suffering, he was watching. And when I was beyond all hope of saving, he gave me rest. Then he gave me a sign to continue my journey.”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love- but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.
At such moments I tried to elevate myself. I would touch the turban I had made with the remnants of my shirt and I would say aloud, “THIS IS GOD’S HAT!”
I would pat my pants and say aloud, “THIS IS GOD’S ATTIRE!”
I would point to Richard Parker and say aloud, “THIS IS GOD’S CAT!”
I would point to the lifeboat and say aloud, “THIS IS GOD’S ARK!”
I would spread my hands wide and say aloud, “THESE ARE GOD’S WIDE ACRES!”
I would point at the sky and say aloud, “THIS IS GOD’S EAR!”
And in this way I would remind myself of creation and of my place in it.
But God’s hat was always unravelling. God’s pants were falling apart. God’s cat was a constant danger. God’s ark was a jail. God’s wide acres were slowly killing me. God’s ear didn’t seem to be listening.
Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reknotted. Or I thought of my family, of how they were spared this terrible agony. The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.”
“One might even argue that if an animal could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo, since the major difference between a zoo and the wild is the absence of parasites and enemies and the abundance of food in the first, and their respective abundance and scarcity in the second. Think about it yourself. Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?…

But I don’t insist. I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”
“I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality.”
“The paths to liberation are numerous, but the bank along the way is always the same, the Bank of Karma, where the liberation account of each of us is credited or debited depending on our actions.”
“Nature can put on a thrilling show. The stage is vast, the lighting is dramatic, the extras are innumerable, and the budget for special effects is absolutely unlimited.”
“My feelings can perhaps be imagined, but they can hardly be described.”
“I can well imagine an athiest’s last words: “White, white! L-L-Love! My God!” – and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.”
“Just beyond the ticket booth Father had painted on a wall in bright red letters the question: DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO? An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so many eager, curious hands that pulled at the curtain that we had to replace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror. ”
“The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.”
“High calls low and low calls high. I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts. The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar. ”
“People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.”
“My face set to a grim and determined expression. I speak in all modesty as I say this, but I discovered at that moment that I have a fierce will to live. It’s not something evident, in my experience. Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others – and I am one of those – never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the every end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s something constitutional, an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.”
“…for everything has a trace of the divine in it.”
“As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound.”
“When your own life is threatened, your sense of empathy is blunted by a terrible, selfish hunger for survival.”
“My gratitude to him is as boundless as the Pacific ocean.”
“And what a story. The first thing that drew me in was disbelief. What? Humanity sins but it’s God’s Son who pays the price? I tried to imagine Father saying to me, ‘Piscine, a lion slipped into the llama pen today and killed two llamas. Yesterday another one killed a black buck. Last week two of them ate a camel. The situation has become intolerable. Something must be done. I have decided that the only way the lions can atone for their sins is if I feed them you.’ … ‘Yes, Father, that would be the right and logical thing to do. Give me a moment to wash up’. What a downright weird story. What a peculiar psychology.”
“ know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently.”
“First wonder goes deepest; wonder after that fits in the impression made by the first.”
“It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.”
“I explore it now in the only place left for it, my memory.”
“I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love.”
“Gloom is but a shadow of a cloud passing by”
“Oncoming death is terrible enough, but worse still is oncoming death with time to spare, time in which all the happiness that was yours and all the happiness that might have been yours becomes clear to you. You see with utter lucidity all that you are losing.”
“I wept like a child. It was not because I was overcome at having survived my ordeal, though I was. Nor was it the presence of my brothers and sisters, though that too was very moving. I was weeping because ….fill in the blank with whatever/whoever helped you survive… had left me so unceremoniously.”
“It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.” Page 316”
“The individual soul touches upon the world soul like a well reaches for the water table. That which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing. The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite.”
“It was as unbelievable as the moon catching fire.”
“If you take two steps towards God,’ he used to tell me, ‘God runs to you!”
“Blessed be shock. Blessed be the part of us that protects us from too much pain and sorrow. At the heart of life is a fusebox.”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love—but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.”
“Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.”
“Christianity is a religion in a rush. Look at the world created in seven days. Even on a symbolic level, that’s creation in a frenzy. To one born in a religion where the battle for a single soul can be a relay race run over many centuries, with innumerable generations passing along the baton, the quick resolution of Christianity has a dizzying effect. If Hinduism flows placidly like the Ganges, then Christianity bustles like Toronto at rush hour. It is religion as swift as a swallow, as urgent as an ambulance. It turns on a dime, expresses itself in the instant. In a moment you are lost or saved. Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now.”
“science can only take you so far and then you have to leap”
“Progress is unstoppable. It is a drumbeat to which we must all march. Technology helps and good ideas spread – these are two lows of nature. If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood! I am utterly convinced of this.”
“A house is a compressed territory where our basic needs can be fulfilled close by and safely.”
“Socially inferior animals are the ones that make the most strenuous, resourceful efforts to get to know their keepers. They prove to be the ones most faithful to them…it is a fact commonly known in the trade.”
“So you want another story?”

Uhh… no. We would like to know what really happened.”

Doesn’t the telling of something always become a story?”

Uhh… perhaps in English. In Japanese a story would have an element of invention in it. We don’t want any invention. We want the ‘straight facts,’ as you say in English.”

Isn’t telling about something–using words, English or Japanese–already something of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something of an invention?”
“The moon was a sharply defined crescent and the sky was perfectly clear. The stars shone with such fierce, contained brilliance that it seemed absurd to call the night dark.”
“For the first time I noticed – as I would notice repeatedly during my ordeal, between one throe of agony and the next – that my suffering was taking place in a grand setting. I saw my suffering for what it was, finite and insignificant, and I was still. My suffering did not fit anywhere, I realized. And I could accept this. It was all right.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity — it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“The main battlefield of good is not the open ground of the public arena, but the small clearing of each heart.”
“Religion is more than rite and ritual.”
“Repetition is important in the training not only of animals but also of humans.”

“I would have liked to say, “I’m a doctor,” to those who asked me what I did, doctors being the current purveyors of magic and miracle. But I’m sure we would have had a bus accident around the next bend, and with all eyes fixed on me I would have to explain, amidst the crying and moaning of victims…I would have to confess that as a matter of fact it was a bachelor’s in philosophy; next, to the shouts of what meaning such a bloody tragedy could have, I would have to admit that I had hardly touched Kierkegaard; and so on.”
“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.”
“I was not wounded in any part of my body, but I had never experienced such intense pain, such a ripping of the nerves, such an ache of the heart.”
“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?”
“So, Swami Jesus, will you go on the hajj this year?” Ravi said, bringing the palms of his hands together in front of his face in a reverent namaskar. “Does Mecca beckon?” He crossed himself. “Or will it be to Rome for your coronation as the next Pope Pius?” He drew in the air a Greek letter, making clear the spelling of his Mockery. “Have you found time yet to get the end of your pecker cut off and become a Jew? At the rate you’re going, if you go to temple on Thursday, mosque on Friday, synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday, you only need to convert to three more
religions to be on holiday for the rest of your life.”
“But once a dead God, always a dead God, even resurrected. The Son must have the taste of death forever in his mouth. The Trinity must be tainted by it; there must be a certain stench at the right hand of God the Father. The horror must be real. Why would God wish that upon Himself? Why not leave death to mortals? Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect? — Love. That was his answer.”
“Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others-and I am one of those-never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s something constitutional, an inability to let go.”
“Things didn’t turn out the way they used to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”
“I felt I was beating a rainbow to death”
“Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time

“The world isn’t just the way it is. It’s how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”
“And that wasn’t the end of it. There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.”
“The worst pair of opposites is boredom and terror. Sometimes your life is a pendulum swing from one to the other. The sea is without a wrinkle. There is not a whisper of wind. The hours last forever. You are so bored you sink into a state of apathy close to a coma. Then the sea becomes rough and your emotions are whipped into a frenzy. Yet even these two opposites do not remain distinct. In your boredom there are elements of terror: you break down into tears; you are filled with dread; you scream; you deliberately hurt yourself And in the grip of terror—the worst storm—you yet feel boredom, a deep weariness with it all.”
“Don’t you bully me with your politeness!”
“Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression.”
“I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell…it’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse”
“I can only tell my story, what you believe is up to you.”
“The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar. It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was, in the throes of unremitting suffering. I should turn to God”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.”
“At moments of wonder, it is easy to avoid small thinking, to entertain thoughts that span the universe, that capture both thunder and tinkle, thick and thin, the near and the far.”
“We believe what we see.

So did Columbus. What do you do when you’re in the dark?”
“Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu, how good to see you Richard Parker!”
“What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing-I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.”
“How true is that necessity is the mother of invention, how very true.”
“An adult female orang-utan cannot defeat an adult male spotted hyena. That is the plain empirical truth. Let it become known among zoologists. Had Orange Juice been a male, had she loomed as large on the scales as she did in my heart, it might have been another matter. But portly and overfed though she was from living in the comfort of a zoo, even so she tipped the scales at barely 110 pounds. Female orangutans are half the size of males. But it is not simply a question of weight and brute strength. Orange Juice was far from defenceless. What it comes down to is attitude and knowledge. What does a fruit eater know about killing? Where would it learn where to bite, how hard, for how long? An orang-utan may be taller, may have very strong and agile arms and long canines, but if it does not know how to use these as weapons, they are of little use. The hyena, with only its jaws, will overcome the ape because it knows what it wants and how to get it.”
“…if you fall into a lion’s pit, the reason the lion will tear you to pieces is not because it’s hungry-be assured, zoo animals are amply fed-or because it’s bloodthirsty, but because you’ve invaded it’s territory.”
“The tennis challenger starts strong but soon loses confidence in his playing. The champion racks up the games. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again, insouciant, daring. Suddenly he’s playing like the devil and the champion must work hard to get those last points.”
“We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It is not the question of courage. It is something constitutional, an ability to let go. It maybe nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.”
“God is universal,” spluttered the priest.
The imam nodded strong approval. “There is only one God.”
“And with their one god Muslims are always causing troubles and provoking riots. The proof of how bad Islam is, is how uncivilized Muslims are, pronounced the pandit.
“Says the slave-driver of the cast system,” huffed the imam. “Hindus enslave people and worship dressed-up dolls.”
“They are golden calf lovers. They kneel before the cows,” the priest chimed in.
“While Christians kneel before a white man! They are flunkies of a foreign god. They are nightmare of all nonwhite people.”
“Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now.”
“I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.”
“Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher. Physically it is extraordinarily arduous, and morally it is killing. You must make adjustments if you want to survive. Much becomes expendable. You get happiness where you can. You reach a point where you’re at the bottom of hell, yet you have your arms crossed and a smile on your face, and you feel you’re the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because at your feet you have a tiny dead fish.”
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.”
“Time is an illusion that makes us all pant.”
“We are all born like Catholics, aren’t we—in limbo, without religion, until some figure introduces us to God?”
“For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out.”
“If you took the city of Tokyo and turned it upside down and shook it you would be amazed at the animals that fall out: badgers, wolves, boa constrictors, crocodiles, ostriches, baboons, capybaras, wild boars, leopards, manatees, ruminants, in untold numbers. There is no doubt in my mind that that feral giraffes and feral hippos have been living in Tokyo for generations without seeing a soul.”
“You may not believe in life, but I don’t believe in death. Move on!”
“I felt like I was beating a rainbow to death.”
“…animals don’t escape from somewhere but from something”
“I think art comes from some sense of discomfort with the world, some sense of not quite fitting with it.”
“Mockery be damned, my urine looked delicious.”
“I went about the job in a direct way. I took the hatchet in both my hands and vigorously beat the fish on the head with the hammerhead (I still didn’t have the stomach to use the sharp edge). The dorado did the most extraordinary thing as it died: it began to flash all kinds of colours in rapid succession. Blue, green, red, gold, and violet flickered and shimmered neon-like on its surface as it struggled. I felt I was beating a rainbow to death.”
“We are all born like Catholics . . . in limbo, without religion.”
“I have a fierce will to live. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others – and I am one of those – never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end.”
“We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat.”
“I knelt a mortal; I rose an immortal.”
“There are animals we haven’t stopped by. Don’t think they’re harmless. Life will defend itself no matter how small it is.”
“I turned around, stepped over the Zebra and threw myself overboard.”
“My alarm clock during my childhood was a pride of lions.”
“I ask you, is it the fig tree’s fault that it’s not the season for figs? What kind of thing is that to do to an innocent tree, wither it instantly?”
“No one dies of nausea, but it can seriously sap the will to live.”
“The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“My ears were full. Nothing more, not one more sound, could push into them and be registered.”
“I have read that there are two fears that cannot be trained out of us: the startle reaction upon hearing an unexpected noise, and vertigo. I would like to add a third, to wit, the rapid and direct approach of a known killer”
“If we, citizens do not support our artists, then we sacrifice out imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”
“If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood.”
“Japanese-owned cargo ship Tsimtsum, flying Panamanian flag, sank July 2nd, 1977, in Pacific, four days out of Manila. Am in lifeboat. Pi Patel my name. Have some food, some water, but Bengal tiger a serious problem. Please advise family in Winnepeg, Canada. Any help very much appreciated. Thank you.”
“If you went to a home, kicked down the front door, chased the people who lived there out into the street and said, “Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go!” — do you think they would shout and dance for joy? They wouldn’t. Birds are not free. The people you’ve just evicted would sputter, “With what right do you throw us out? This is our home. We own it. We have lived here for years. We’re calling the police, you scoundrel.”
“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others.Because of the impression that the future is blocked up,that they might do alright but not their children.Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.”
“How long does it take for a broken spirit to kill a body that has food, water and shelter?”
“I was more afraid that in a few words thrown out he might destroy something that I loved. What if his words had the effect of polio on me? What a terrible disease that must be if it could kill God in a man.”
“Much hostile and aggressive behaviour among animals is the expression of social insecurity.”
“The truth of life is that Brahman is no different from atman, the spiritual force within us, what you might call the soul.”
“Dawn came and matters were worse for it. Because now, emerging from the darkness, I could see, what before I had only felt, the great curtains of rain crashing down on me from towering heights and the waves that threw a path over me and trod me underfoot one after another.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.”
“My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity- it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love, that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“Fanatics do not have faith – they have belief. With faith you let go. You trust. Whereas with belief you cling.”
“If we citizens do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the alter of crude reality, and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”
“I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I hate about my nickname, the way the number runs on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.” That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day.”
“I wept heartily over this poor little deceased soul. It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer. I was now as guilty as Cain. I was sixteen years old, a harmless boy, bookish and religious, and now I had blood on my hands. It’s a terrible burden to carry. All sentient life is sacred.”
“The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.”
“I challenge anyone to understand Islam, its spirit, and not to love it. It is a beautiful religion of
brotherhood and devotion.

The mosque was truly an open construction, to God and to breeze. We sat cross-legged
listening to the imam until the time came to pray. Then the random pattern of sitters disappeared as
we stood and arranged ourselves shoulder to shoulder in rows, every space ahead being filled by
someone from behind until every line was solid and we were row after row of worshippers. It felt
good to bring my forehead to the ground. Immediately it felt like a deeply religious contact.”
“I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me.”
“To chose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
“Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.”
“Of hunger and thirst, thirst is the greater imperative.”
“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”
“Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.”
“Only death consistently excites your emotions, whether contemplating when life is safe and stale, or fleeing it when life is threatened and precious”
“There’s no boot.”
No boot?”
No.”
That makes me sad.”
I ate it.”
You ate the boot?”
Yes.”
Was it good?”
No. Were the cigarettes good?”
No. I couldn’t finish them.”
I couldn’t finish the boot.”
“What a terrible disease that must be if it could kill God in a man.”
“I tell you, to be drunk on alcohol is disgraceful, but to be drunk on water is noble and ecstatic.”
“Come aboard if your destination is oblivion – it should be our next stop.”
“The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy.”
“I blinked deliberately, expecting my eyelids to act like lumberjacks. But the trees would not fall.”
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless.”
“There are no grounds for going beyond a scientific explanation of reality and no sound reason for believing anything but our sense experience. A clear intellect, close attention to detail and a little scientific knowledge will expose religion as superstitious bosh. God does not exist. — Why tolerate darkness? Everything is here and clear, if only we look carefully.”
“Without a driver this bus is lost. Our lives are over. Come aboard if your destination is oblivion – it should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat, if you want. But it’s a sad view.”
“I applied my reason at every moment. Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.”
“Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel, Indian citizen, is an astounding story of courage and endurance in the face of extraordinarily difficult and tragic circumstances. In the experience of this investigator, his story is unparalleled in the history of shipwrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”
“A zoo is a cultural institution. Like a public library, like a museum, it is at the service of popular education and science. And by that token, not much of a money-making venture for the Greater Good and the Greater Profit are not compatible aims.”
“It was a placid explosion of orange and red, a great chromatic symphony, a
colour canvas of supernatural proportions, truly a splendid Pacific sunset, quite wasted on me.”
“Time and sunshine healed a sore, but the process was slow, and new boils appeared if I didn’t stay dry.”
“There are many examples of animals coming to surprising living arrangements …where an animal takes a human being or another animal to be one of it’s kind.”
“This story has a happy ending.”
“I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusion about freedom plague them both.”
“You may not believe in life, but I don’t believe in death. … The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“…fear…is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life…you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.”
“…nature as a whole was an exceptionally fine illustration of science.”
“If you become sick yourself, don’t waste your vomit by sending it overboard. Vomit makes an excellent border guard. Puke on the edges of your territory.”
“the senile, lecherous expression of a camel.”
“The reason death sticks do closely to life isn’t biological necessity-it”s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only an thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. you feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread. ” To prosper, a zoo needs parliamentary government, democratic elections, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, rule of law and everything else enshrined in India’s Constitution. Impossible to enjoy the animals otherwise. Long-term, bad politics is bad for business.”
“A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed.”
“Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities that makes you feel like a beggar? Why enter this jungle of foreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult?

The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.”
“Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others.”
“An epic simplicity”
“I’m afraid the popularity of the domestic cat would drop very quickly if little kitty could roar its displeasure.”
“In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and to do too little.”
“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe? Don’t you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
“Reason is my prophet and it tells me that as a watch stops, so we die. It’s the end. If the watch doesn’t work properly, it must be fixed here and now by us.”
“It’s a joke in the zoo business, a weary joke, that the paperwork involved in trading a shrew weighs more than an elephant, that the paperwork involved in trading an elephant weighs more than a whale, and that you must never try to trade a whale, never.”
“Or rather, since Christians are so fond of capital letters, a Story.”
“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil within that has been let out.”
“The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment. A good-natured smile is forever on its lips…I have seen that smile with my own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at a sloth in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of scientific probing.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at it what it can.”
“I’m just trying to help”
“Do your uncle’s bonsai eat meat?”
“I don’t think so”
“Have you ever been bitten by one of his bonsai?”
“No.”
“In that case, your uncle’s bonsai are not helping us”
“And so, in that Greek letter that looks like a shack with a corrugated tin roof, in that elusive, irrational number with which scientists try to understand the universe, I found refuge.”
“What don’t we realize is that we are a strange and forbidding species to wild animals. We fill them with fear. They avoid us as much as possible. It took centuries to still the fear in some pliable animals – domestication it’s called – but most cannot get over their fear, and I doubt they ever will. When wild animals fight us, it is out of sheer desperation. They fight when they feel they have no other way out.”
“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination o the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”
“The reward for the watching eye and listening ear is great.”

“If Christ played doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
“It seems to be a law of human nature that those who live by the sea are suspicious
of swimmers, just as those who live in the mountains are suspicious of mountain
climbers.”
“What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell.”
“a problem of the soul, a heaviness of the heart, a darkness of the conscience”
“I went to temple at crowded times when Brahmins were too distracted to come between me and God.”
“You see these guinea pigs? Well… they’re not dangerous.”
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, ‘ Business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against god, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave nightly, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.”
“Two blind people in two separate lifeboats meeting up in the Pacific–the coincidence seems a little far-fetched, no?”
“I concluded, that it was not a dream or a delusion or a misplaced memory or a fancy or any other falsity, but a solid, true thing witnessed while in a weakened highly agitated state.”
“It’s morning in Bethany and God is hungry God wants His breakfast. He comes to a fig tree. It’s not the season for figs so the tree has no figs. God is peeved. The Son mutters “May you never bear fruit again ” and instantly the fig tree withers. So says Matthew backed up by Mark.

I ask you is it the fig tree’s fault that it’s not the season for figs What kind of thing is that to do to an innocent fig tree whither it instantly

I couldn’t get Him out of my head. Still can’t. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me the less I could forget Him. And the more I learned about Him the less I wanted to leave Him.”
“Then Richard Parker, companion of my torment, awful, fierce thing that kept me alive, moved forward and disappeared forever from my life.”
“Isn’t telling about something–using words, English or Japanese–already something of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something of an invention? The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”
“life will defend itself no matter how small it is”
“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? […] Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist.”
“There’s no peace like the peace of an inner courtyard on a sunny day.”
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can”
“The men nodded vigorously at me. When they took hold of me and lifted me in their strong arms, I thought nothing of it. I thought they were helping me. I was so full of trust in them that I felt grateful as they carried me in the air. Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts.”
“I wish I could convey the perfection of a seal slipping into water or a spider monkey swinging from point to point or a lion merely turning its head. But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it…I spent more hours than I can count a quiet witness to the highly mannered, manifold expressions of life that grace our planet. It is something so bright, loud, weird and delicate as to stupefy the senses.”
“The sound would disappear, but the hurt would linger, like the smell of piss long after it has evaporated.”
“But I want to pray to Allah. I want to be a Christian.”
“I wish I could convey the perfection of a seal slipping into water or a spider monkey swinging from point to point or a lion merely turning it’s head. But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it.”
“A good zoo is a place of carefully worked-out coincidence: exactly where an animal says to us, “Stay out!”…we say to it, “Stay in!” with our barriers. Under such conditions of diplomatic peace, all animals are content and we can relax and have a look at each other.”
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence were something weak and helpless.”
“Ravi was right. Truly I was to be the next goat. I had a wet, trembling, half-drowned, heaving and coughing three-year-old adult Bengal tiger in my lifeboat. Richard Parker rose unsteadily to his feet on the tarpaulin, eyes blazing as they met mine, ears laid tight to his head, all weapons drawn. His head was the size and colour of the lifebuoy, with teeth.
I turned around, stepped over the zebra and threw myself overboard.”
“Catholics have a reputation for severity, for judgment that comes down heavily.”
“You may be astonished that in such a short period of time I could go from weeping over the muffled killing of a flying fish to gleefully bludgeoning to death a dorado. I could explain it by arguing that profiting from a pitiful flying fish’s navigational mistake made me shy and sorrowful, while the excitement of actively capturing a great dorado made me sanguinary and self-assured. But in point of fact the explanation lies elsewhere. It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even to killing.”
“I thought I would run out of paper. It was the pens that ran out.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“I entered the church, without fear this time, for it was now my house too. I offered prayers to Christ, who is alive. Then I raced down the hill on the left and raced up the hill on the right—to offer thanks to Lord Krishna for having put Jesus of Nazareth, whose humanity I found so compelling, in my way.”
“I love Canada. I miss the heat of India, the food, the house lizards on the walls, the musicals on the silver screen, the cows wandering on the streets, the crows cawing, even the talk of cricket matches, but I love Canada. It’s a country much too cold for good sense, inhabited by compassionate, intelligent people with bad hairdos.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity– it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, jealous possessive love that grabs what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but a passing shadow of a cloud.”
“I quite deliberately dressed wild animals in tame costumes of my imagination.”
“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in a strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.”
“Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr.
Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”
“It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them – and then they leap.”
“I was determined to move forward.”
“If there is a change, it is usually for the lesser rather than the greater; many people seem to lose God along life’s way.”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love – but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.”
“Progress is unstoppable. It is a drumbeat to which we must all march. Technology helps and good ideas spread – these are two laws of nature. If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood!”
“Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others- and I am one of those-never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter what the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s…an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life hungry stupidity.”
“If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on.”
“Instead of coconut yam kootu, why not boiled beef tongue with a mustard sauce?”
“That sounds non-veg.”
“I wish I could convey the perfection of a seal slipping into water or a spider monkey swinging from point to point or a lion merely turning its head. But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it.”
“If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
“It was frightening, the extent to which a full belly made for a good mood.”
“My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition. I mock this skull.”
“I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us
hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no onger in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom
plague them both.”
“Another favourite position of his was sitting with his back to me, his rear half resting on the floor of the boat and his front half on the bench, his face buried into the stern, paws right next to his head, looking as if we were playing hide-and-seek and he were the one counting. In this position he tended to lie very still, with only the occasional twitching of his ears to indicate that he is not necessarily sleeping.”
“What of God’s silence? I think it over. I add: n intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose.”
“Only fear can defeat life.”
“To look
out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.”
“Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”
“At last I managed to haul it aboard. It was over three feet long. The bucket was useless. It would fit the dorado like a hat.”
“I suppose in the end the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”
Plan Number Three: Attack Him with All Available Weaponry. Ludicrous. I wasn’t Tarzan. I was a puny, feeble, vegetarian life form.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but thee passing shadow of a cloud.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
“Mamaji remembered, Father dreamed.”
“But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it.”
“I said nothing. It wasn’t for fear of angering Mr. Kumar. I was more afraid that in a few words thrown out he might destroy something that I loved.”
“Repetition is important in the training not only of animals but also of humans.”
“A great literary work can be completely, completely unpredictable. Which can sometimes make them very hard to read, but it gives them a great originality.”
“Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity—it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them—and then they leap.”
“I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful.”
“And that wasn’t the end of it. There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, ‘Business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena, but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.”
“You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day.”
“The word isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”
“The obsession with putting ourselves at the centre of everything is the bane not only of theologians but also of zoologists.”
It is true that those we meet can change us”
“Nature can put on a thrilling show. The stage is vast, the lighting is dramatic, the extras are innumerable, and the budget for special effects is absolutely unlimited.”
“For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“That I was a swimmer made no waves; it seems to be a law of human nature
that those who live by the sea are suspicious of swimmers, just as those who live in the mountains are suspicious of mountain climbers.”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love—but sometimes it was so hard to love.”
“..there’s sunlight and shade, spots and patterns of colour, your mind is elsewhere–so you don’t make out what is right in front of you.”
“My heart began to beat like a merry drum and blood started flowing through my veins like cars from a wedding party
honking their way through town.”
“This was all a bit much for me. The tone was right—loving and brave—but the details seemed bleak. I said nothing. It wasn’t for fear of angering Mr. Kumar. I was more afraid that in a few words thrown out he might destroy something that I loved. What if his words had the effect of polio on me? What a terrible disease that must be if it could kill God in a man.”
“[T]o be a castaway is to be caught up in grim and exhausting opposites.”
Like

“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals of the story without animals?”
“If God on the Cross is God shamming a human tragedy, it turns the Passion of Christ into the Farce of Christ. The death of the Son must be real. Father Martin assured me it was. But once a dead God, always a dead God, even resurrected. The Son must have the taste for death forever in His mouth. The Trinity must be tainted by it; there must be a certain stench at the right hand of God the Father. The horror must be real. Why would God wish that upon Himself? Why not leave death to the mortals? Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect? Love. That was Father Martin’s answer.”
“Surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
“You bring joy and pain in equal measure- come aboard if your destination is oblivion. It should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat, if you want. But it’s a sad view.”
“Despite attending a nominally Christian school, I had not yet been inside a church—and I wasn’t about to dare the deed now. I knew very little about the religion. It had a reputation for few gods and great violence. But good schools.”
“Everything in me, right down to the pores of my skin, was expressing joy.”
“… and I knew what I wanted: I would settle in a hill station and write my novel. I had visions of myself at a table on a large veranda, my notes spread out in front of me next to a steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy with mists would lie at my feet and the shrill cries of monkeys would fill my ears. The weather would be just tight, requiring a light sweater mornings and evenings, and something short-sleeved midday. Thus set up, pen in hand, for the sake of greater truth, I would turn Portugal into a fiction. That’s what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selective transforming the reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence? What need did I have to go to Portugal?”
“From Matheran I mailed the notes of my failed novel. I mailed them to fictitious address.”
“And in between the two, in between the sky and the sea, were all the winds. And there were all the nights and all the moons. To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the centre of a circle. However much things may appear to change—the sea may shift from whisper to rage, the sky might go from fresh blue to blinding white to darkest black—the geometry never changes. Your gaze is always a radius. The circumference is ever great. In fact, the circles multiply. To be a castaway is to be caught in a harrowing ballet of circles.”
“Nevertheless, an Olympic pool is an Olympic pool, touched by immortal glory.”
“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation”
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love–but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.”
“I kept one eye on the horizon, one eye on the other end of the lifeboat.”
“This book was born as I was hungry. Let me explain.”
“He became a champion napper.”
“People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.”
“many people seem to lose God along life’s way.”
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can get.”
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“to shriek and to slam the door shut repeatedly—with a deafening clang each time—until the keeper, notified by a visitor, hurried over to remedy the situation. A herd of roe-deer in a European zoo stepped out of their corral when the gate was left open. Frightened by visitors, the deer bolted for the nearby forest, which had its own herd of wild roe-deer and could support more. Nonetheless,”
“Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured. What”
“The moon distresses you by silently reminding you of your solitude; you open your eyes wide to escape your loneliness.”
“If it happened, it happened. Why should it have to mean anything?”
“I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me.”
“I can well imagine an atheist’s last words: “White, white! L-L-Love! My God!”—and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.”
“To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches.”
“avatar”
“animals fight, it is with the intent to kill and with the understanding that they may be killed. A”
“Jesus of Nazareth, whose humanity I found so compelling,”
“proves to be a devastating hunter. Hyenas attack”
“This Son is a god who walked, a pedestrian god—and in a hot place, at that—with a stride like any human stride, the sandal reaching just above the rocks along the way; and when He splurged on transportation, it was a regular donkey. This Son is a god who died in three hours, with moans, gasps and laments. What kind of a god is that? What is there to inspire in this Son? Love, said Father Martin.”
“Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”
“Animals are also poisoned. And there are indecencies”
“I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I have to turn miracle into routine.”
“The meerkats looked away. They did it like one man, all of them turning in the same direction at exactly the same time. I pulled myself out to see what it was. It was Richard Parker. He confirmed what I had suspected, that these meerkats had gone for so many generations without predators that any notion of flight distance, of flight, of plain fear, had been genetically weeded out of them. He was moving through them, blazing a trail of murder and mayhem, devouring one meerkat after another, blood dripping from his mouth, and they, cheek to jowl with a tiger, were jumping up and down on the spot, as if crying, “My turn! My turn! My turn!”
“The reward for the watching eye and the listening ear is great. I spent more hours than I can count a quiet witness to the highly mannered, manifold expressions of life that grace our planet. It is something so bright, loud, weird and delicate as to stupefy the senses.”
“Tigers, indeed all animals, do not favour violence as a means of settling scores. When animals fight, it is with the intent to kill and with the understanding that they may be killed. A clash is costly. And so animals have a full system of cautionary signals designed to avoid a showdown, and they are quick to back down when they feel they can. Rarely will a tiger attack a fellow predator without warning …. It will appraise the situation. If it decides there is no threat, it will turn away….”
“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? ”
“People move in the hope of a better life.”
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.”
“Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”
“The sun was beginning to pull the curtains on the day.”
“Now comes the difficult part: you must provoke the animal that is afflicting you. Tiger, rhinoceros, ostrich, wild boar, brown bear- no matter the beast, you must get its goat.”
“seem to bear flowers or”
“We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s something constitutional, an inability to let go. It maybe nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it…”
“onanists breaking a sweat on monkeys, ponies, birds;”
“How true it is that necessity is the mother of invention, how very true.”
“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”
“In the wild, animals stick to the same paths for the same pressing reasons, season after season.”
“And what of my extended family-birds, beasts, and reptiles? They too have drowned. Every single thing I value in life has been destroyed. And I am allowed no explanation? I am to suffer hell without any account from heaven? In that case, what is the purpose of reason, Richard Parker? Is it no more than to shine at practicalities-the getting of food, clothing and shelter? Why can’t reason give greater answers? Why can we throw a question further than we can pull in an answer? Why such a vast net if there’s so little fish to catch? (pg. 98)”
“Within the limits of their nature, they make do with what they have.”
“For example–I wonder–could you tell my jumbled story in exactly one hundred chapters, not one more, not one less? I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I hate about my nickname, the way that number runs on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go.”
“for, of course, with all animals, including us, to stare is an aggressive act.”
“communion with God in the middle of bags of flour”
“I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”
“The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity- it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”
“If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?”
“They were dead; I could no longer deny it. What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you.”
“When animals fight, it is with the intent to kill and with the understanding that they may be killed.”
“wild are, in practice,”
“Except that now, for having accused Ravi of an unspecified crime he hadn’t committed, I was as good as dead. In years subsequent, when he was in the mood to terrorize me, he would whisper to me, “Just wait till we’re alone. You’re the next goat!”
“hole. The temperature climbed.”
“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?”
“tiptoe to the water’s edge. They show their raiments.”
“One such time I left town and on my way back, at a point where the land was high and I could see the sea to my left and down the road a long ways, I suddenly felt I was in heaven. The spot was in fact no different from when I had passed it not long before, but my way of seeing it had changed. The feeling, a paradoxical mix of pulsing energy and profound peace, was intense and blissful. Whereas before the road, the sea, the trees, the air, the sun all spoke differently to me, now they spoke one language of unity. Tree took account of road, which was aware of air, which was mindful of sea, which shared things with sun. Every element lived in harmonious relation with its neighbor, and all was kith and kin. I knelt a mortal; I rose an immortal. I felt like the centre of a small circle coinciding with the center of a much larger one.”
“If you went to a home, kicked down the front door, chased the people who lived there out into the street and said, “Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go!”—do you think they would shout and dance for joy? They wouldn’t. Birds are not free. The people you’ve”

soul will become thick and course and the human will begin to resemble the animal whose blood they consumed.

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