Reading & Writing Assignment (6) – Life of Pi

If I ever met you in person and could give you one advice on how to become better at your English, do you know what would I say? Yes, read a page and write a paragraph every day – there is no better way. With that message out of the way, it is time for the assignment.

We are now entering the 2nd half of the series with our 6th assignment; hasn’t the journey so far been awesome?

What will you do in this assignment? – You would read a page (no video this time), and then answer a question based on that. Bring out the book lover in you; we are going to dip our toes into one of the world’s all-time best seller books.

Today’s situation book (source)

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a marvelous (fictional) read. It is a story of survival, a story of growth in adversity, and a story about the relativity of truth. If you have not read the book yet, I would recommend you do so today.

The lead character, Pi Patel (the story behind the name is fascinating in equal measures), spends 227 days after a shipwreck, stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. This experience of being on his own in the middle of a vast ocean, with no other human being in sight and just a tiger for company, teaches him so much about life and through his narrative, to the readers of the book. You also get to learn a handful about the life and its peculiarities in the sea (Ex. – How do you make drinking water in the middle of an ocean?).

While each chapter of the book is gripping, entertaining, and thought-provoking (it is easy to read too, unlike some other novels), the one that stayed with me even after years of having read the book is where the author describes fear. If you have ever lived through (and battled) fear (of losing someone, of failing at something, of not being just good enough), you would relate to what is written below.

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.

Question for you– What are you afraid of (heights, animals, exams, Maths, failure, breakup etc.)? Give details such as how/when did you develop this fear, and any incidents related to the fear (funny, scary or otherwise) that you can share. Write your answer in the comments section below (minimum 200 words). If you don’t have a story of your own, you can write about someone else’s fears too.

You can also read fellow students’ answers in comments (but do so only after you have submitted your own answer so that you don’t get influenced by what others wrote). We also encourage you to share your feedback, appreciation, and thoughts against others’ answers. Remember, it is a community effort and we are all in it together :). Only when you participate, you can expect others to participate and share feedback on what you wrote. Deal?

To read the next article of the series on some of the most commonly misused words in English, click on the next button below. To go back to the earlier article, click on the previous button.

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7 thoughts on “Reading & Writing Assignment (6) – Life of Pi

  • October 14, 2016 at 1:39 AM

    ‘Fear of missing out’ or commonly referred to as FOMO. Yep, that’s a legit fear. I recently got to know that I have this when I was reading an article about our so called Social Media Generation. What happens is, you are enjoying a beautiful Sunday, sipping your coffee, listening to Nirvana, then you open Facebook, you see posts on people climbing Mount Everest, 15 year olds becoming CEOs, people colonising Mars, and different kinds of shit. Suddenly, a tiny little question pops into your head, ‘What exactly are you doing with your life?’ leading to the next question, ‘Are you at the right place doing the right thing or should you be doing something else?’ and then from there, the whole situation goes south, eventually leading to an identity crisis.
    Bye bye, Sunday. Bye bye, coffee. Bye bye to you too, Nirvana. I hate it.
    This kept happening to me. I realised social media is a major cause of this, so I decided to quit social media. I am not a social butterfly or anything, so it was easy for me. The no. of FOMO attacks per week went down, but I couldn’t find a proper solution. After a bit of struggle, I made peace with it. Now I like to think that it helps me identify all the other awesome options I have in life and pushes me to do better. When that doesn’t work, I simply try not to overthink or distract myself. Life is a tad bit better now.
    So that was me vs FOMO. Thanks for the time you spent reading this. Stay awesome!

    Reply
  • October 15, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    I am sort of a fearless person, but the only fear that I have is the fear of regrets. I have always lived my life as per my own rules and not by the orthodox rules of the society. This is probably the only reason why I don’t have any regret in my life. I have always done what I thought was right for me although it might have proved wrong in the longer run but I never had any regrets about the same because it was entirely my decision. I think this approach has given me enough flexibility to explore the uncharted territories no matter how dark they really were. This gave me the confidence to go out bold on my dreams, follow my heart and have fun at what I do.

    This article reminds me of the days when I was just 17 years old and was in the very first year of my graduation, it was this fearlessness that made me confident enough to start my first venture which ultimately didn’t land up the way I expected it to but it was fine. Though it led to an extension in my graduation by one year but that was fine too I don’t have any regrets at least because I followed my heart and did something I always wanted to. So no regrets hence no fear. To conclude I feel the only way you can win in life is by conquering your fears. :)

    Reply
  • October 16, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    Fear of endings. Not sure if that’s the one. I’m not even sure whether its actually a fear or a natural human tendency, but I dread it. So much so that if you bring a boggart* in front of me, I know this is what it is going to turn into. I realised this in my childhood when my cousin’s stay at my home ended and she left to join her parents. I would count her remaining days with me and cry because I thought it ended too soon. Growing up, fear of ending school, then college, my internship, the trip to my favourite destination, that one daily habit I have but I have to let go. Because When something ends/someone leaves, it creates a void in your life which sometimes can be replaced by the new phase of life. When school ended, college days came by. When college ended, I found an internship.But sometimes it is irreplaceable. When my colleagues, who by now were very good friends, left the workplace;
    when my close friend left the country for higher education; I had just one question – “What next?” I have never had an answer to it but that blank space haunted me. Not just this, sometimes, fear of finishing that one book which has become favourite by now; maybe the next book is not good as this one, since the next book will not have similar characters!

    When I get attached to some place or someone, 
    and there comes a point when I imagine myself in a situation where I might have to let go of something/ someone I love, it freaks me out. Life seems impossible without these people and these things at first. Fortunately, whenever those fears actually came true, I had time to mentally prepare myself for holding myself up through the days to come.

    Still uncertain, whether what I wrote made some sense, you will admit that we all have been in that situation a number of times and we hate it! But we learn to deal with them some way or another. :)

    Cheers!

    *Boggart – A creature in Harry potter series which takes the shape of your fear when you face it.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2016 at 8:59 PM

    Fear – I never had one fear, I had many, throughout my life.

    The first one I remember was, to spell out “UMBRELLA”. I was scared of the word and I never got it right which lead to scolding and at time beating up too, it was a genuine fear (of course it was at the age of 3-4). After that a lot of other things such as: fear of passing the final exams when I was introduced to mathematics, fear of not getting the first rank in the class when I started having fun with Maths and Science, then the fear of being away from my brother and sister when my parents decided to send them to Delhi for secondary education, it was the toughest, till that time at least. Then came a long period of “fear of letting down my parents” in terms of scoring high in competitive exams, getting into one of those top colleges and getting a decent job. And then there was fear of losing a friend and knowing that maybe you will never talk to them again.

    All these fears, were not very easy to overcome but the trick was the same – live through it. That’s how it worked in my case at least.  Went through every one of them, faced them, passed through them and that’s how I understood that it’s all in the mind, although I still have a few of them. But the lesson was not to worry about the fear because it’s a necessary thing

    Keep smiling and face the fear, give your best and maybe what you feared was not even worth worrying about…

    Reply
  • March 14, 2017 at 5:37 PM

    Fear of accidents. Commonly known as Dystychiphobia. I was thirteen years old when I met a dreadful accident. I underwent a surgery and coming to my senses after the anaesthesia was one of the most horrifying moments of my life. The pain was unbearable.
    Busy in my teen years I forgot about the incident and completely healed from the emotional pain I felt then. Little did I know, I have developed a serious fear in my mind. One night, I got a text from a friend that Akshar (my closet friend) met an accident and died on spot. I was shocked. The fear I had suppressed in me came screaming back and I burst out crying. I was 17 and helpless.
    Focusing on living by repressing my fear didn’t work at all. It actually changed the way I lived, and not in a good way. It stopped me from doing a lot of the things that I wanted to do because I was scared that I may die doing it.
    Later, I took a meditation course and a solo trip to Munger (a district in Bihar). The spiritual retreat helped me conquer my fear and somehow made me strong enough to face it if it comes back.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    I have a stage fear. When I was in my class 3, I participated in a storytelling competition. While practicing that in front of my teacher, I used to spoke well. When I had to speak on stage, I really don’t know what happened with me and I finished the story in 2.5 minutes instead of 4 minutes. Then, I realized it’s very difficult for me to speak on stage. But I didn’t give up, I used to participate in every debate and elocution competition so that I can overcome my fear and I participated till class 9 every year.

    After completing my school, I faced the same fear in college during placements. When I was preparing for placements, I used to have mock interviews. I was really scared in my first mock-interview and when the interviewers started grilling me, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. Then the interviewers told me that you have such a good resume and you are technically sound too. At that time, their words motivated me and built
    a great confidence. That interview helped me a lot and I was able to clear other job interviews. Though I have improved a lot, but still I face problem while giving any presentation or interview. To overcome my fear; I repeatedly do the same thing then, whether it is an interview, a debate or any presentation so that I can improve.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2017 at 12:15 AM

    Fear is the most poisonous venom that devour us.We fear from exam, failure, death and the list goes on.Hence we start doubting on our potential and utimately fail in our quest.The more we let this demon posses the farther we get drifted away from success.In order to win over fear one must believe in onself and keep improving themselves.

    Like many of us,I was also gripped by the fear of failure.It all started when I was in sixth standard.I got serious in studies.From an average performer, I improved my class rank to became the topper in class.I was full on confidence and would never doubted my potential till class X.The first hint of doubt entered into my mind when I set my aim to score 80% in my board examination.After consulting to professors i realised that this task is very challenging almost next to impossible.I think this was the time when i let the seed of doubt get implanted into my head.With each passing day I felt that I am drifting away from my dream.I became extra cautious. I started cutting time on other activities such as playing , relaxing etc but in really I was letting the fear take over me.I was getting more doubtful on my ability hence i was curtailing on other activities.

    Finally I was so much into studies that I forgot everything. Desite putting everything I failed to achieve my dream.When I look back into the past, I realised my mistakes.The fear of failure engulfed me.If i would not have doubted on my potential I would have surely achieved the desired milestone.

    Now I am fully aware of this demon, So I keep myself motivated and never let the fear overcome me.I think this is the success mantra for life.Be bold, be brave and keep moving.

    Reply

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