Posted By jatyler - 23rd June 2011
Annam Manthiram + “Variations on a Blossoming Marriage” = MB8:
Can you talk to us a little about your decision in ‘Variations on a Blossoming Marriage’ to pair the beauty of flowers with the sad and ugly elements of divorce and adultery?
There seems to be an expectation in our society that those we love should demonstrate their care for us through flower-giving. Regardless of whether the cause is commercial or cultural, I find it problematic because flowers are beautiful, but impermanent. Why would you want something that will die in a few days to represent all of what is good in your, hopefully, more permanent relationship?
So I decided to turn this expectation on its head, so to speak, and alter the reader’s sense of order by juxtaposing the beauty of flowers (and their social significance) with the ugliness that can be relationships and the dismal quality of a union with no true romance.
In this piece, both parties seem to be implicated in the problems of their marriage – how did you come to this approach as opposed to placing the blame solely on one or the other?
Any marriage or relationship, whether romantic or platonic, exists because two people make it work. Equally, it takes two people to make it not work.
How much research did you need to do to reference the flowers used here?
I logged on to several gardening sites for research and also looked up some of the Latin meanings of the various classifications. I am also an avid gardener, so I knew in some examples which specific flowers I wanted to use and why.
Do you have a green thumb?
I do. I love to garden. Our backyard is overflowing with flowers, trees, and bushes, and though we live in the desert, we also have a vegetable garden where we are growing beets, peas, peppers, and mint this year.
There is something divine about working with your hands in this capacity, and I liken it to creating magic through words.
Can you give us a little preview of your forthcoming novel, After the Tsunami?
The novel’s protagonist, Siddhartha, is a tortured Indian man who cannot stop reliving the harrowing childhood he endured in an orphanage in India.
I wanted to write about the reality of brutality – not sugar-coat it in any way whatsoever – and how it can change people for the better or worse. I also wanted to comment on the nature of memory: how it has the power to transform, burden, or release. In Siddhartha’s case, it does all three.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a tough story to read, but it was equally tough to write. Having overcome several obstacles myself, I am a firm believer in the ability to find optimism and hope no matter what the situation. And I think this novel epitomizes that. Even in the bleakest moments of his life, Siddhartha not only finds his own light, but he creates it. And through his creation, he survives his ordeal, which in and of itself is another reminder of the resourcefulness of the human spirit.
Read “Variations on a Blossoming Marriage” and 21 other great pieces in Monkeybicycle8, available here.