I usually know from the start of a book, if soon enough, late into the hours after midnight, I am going to invariably end up quietly shedding happy tears, tucked into my cosy quilt. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think I cry particularly easily, except at the end of every good book.
“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.”
But, Anne of Green Gable, by Lucy Montgomery, was not a book I was planning to get all warm and fuzzy about. It was a classic on my reading list since early this year. Even half way through the book, I harboured a general scepticism about Anne Shirley. An 11 year old orphan who was garrulous to an alarming extent and would easily get lost in glorious feats of fantasy. She was too upbeat and self-absorbed for my liking.
“I don’t know, I don’t want to talk as much. (…) It’s nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one’s heart, like treasures. I don’t like to have them laughed at or wondered over.”
Well into the 2nd half of the book, she started to sober down a teeny tiny sweet little bit. By the end, she is sixteen and a half. Driven, loving and with an active imagination as ever. And by ‘The End‘, I knew I had not been fair to that young vivacious girl who had arrived at Green Gables with so many hopes and wishes but no one to love and care for her.
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”
Jaded. Cynical. I had heard these words, but now I fear their effect. Anne of Green Gables, all her senseless chatter, made up names and that slow hardly there, but timeless love story reminds me what its like to be young and carefree.
Anne grew up, but I sincerely hope she keeps that imagination safe. And so do I.
~ In not loving a girl who loves imagination I effectively disregarded everything I was as a child. And also that part of me that even today twirls around when no one is watching, or hums a song while looking out of a window. Anne was simply saying out loud what we all want. Not common red hair but beautiful auburn. Not a plain name like Ann, but a sophisticated one like Anne. Yes, that lone ‘e’ makes life special.
~Anne would wake up to a beautiful day and thank the world that she was alive. Cutesy? How could I even think that, when all I long for is a chance to take a quiet walk through that wild path of berry trees behind my house. She loves using flowery language and both she and the author use words to paint vivid pretty sceneries of meadows, flowers, brooks and trees. When did I grow so big to not let such a description of nature and seasons touch my heart?
“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
~ Anne made mistakes and flew into tempers. Then apologised only to get out of punishment. How did I grow up this way to judge such a thing and not feel jealous of a girl who was free from social niceties? Who would rather storm out or whack someone on the head than bear something that hurt her ego. Then with energetic enthusiasm, would come up with a pleading sorry even if she did not mean a single word; only so that she could go to a picnic for the first time in her life.
~ To wait and get something after long last… Anne had imaginary friends, then she got a best friend. An actual girl, Diana. From straight stiff skirts, she graduated to puffed sleeves and frills. For being skinny and not pretty, she blossomed. Sometimes we forget tenacity and patience. We forget how difficult things can really be, Anne made me remember how thankful I should be.
“I’ve had a splendid time,” she concluded happily, “and I feel that it marks an epoch in my life. But the best of it all was the coming home.”
~ Knowing there is a place you call home. Where it is safe. Where you sit and watch the sun set or gobble warm food, or indulge in despair or cry till your tears run dry. For Anne, she found Green Gables or maybe, Green Gables found its Anne.
~ People grow old. They die. It is an irreversible truth of life. We move on. We smile again. Sometimes quiet people are the most warm and loving grown-ups around. We make sacrifices for the ones we love. Those sacrifices are noble. And all that I learnt in bullet point 3 above, to take care of self, sometimes gets negated when it is equally inspiring to take care of an old aunt who has given us so much.
~ A love story… He teased her and tried to make amends. She fought hard and refused to forgive him. They were not yet in their teens. From enemies to strangers to friends. From 11 to 16 is a lifetime in itself. It took years like in Little Women. Remember Jo and Laurie and Professor Bhaer? Some love stories are meant to be. And if my grown up heart can allow itself to feel that glow.. I do need to thank Anne Shirley.