Friday, 29 August 2014

The Andromeda Connection, A Journey in Time - A Preview


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Dear friends and book lovers, this is a preview of my forthcoming book titled, The Andromeda Connection, A Journey in Time.
The Andromeda Connection is the culmination of an idea that the author had many years ago, of writing interesting narratives in prose. He had always wanted to write short stories and had even made a false start, one being a story written from the perspective of a deer living in the in the jungles of Africa! The scrap book is lost but the desire to narrate a story remains. Many years later, the author was able to publish his collection of poems, although he had never dreamed of writing poetry! Poetry somehow came naturally to him and he used it as a suitable vehicle for communicating his perceptions about life. His priority has always been to write short stories and novels, and this is his first offering in the prose form.
The author does not claim to have written a collection of short stories, or discursive pieces, or even a novel - the book combines the stream of consciousness with linear narration. The Andromeda Connection – A Journey includes biographical elements which might suddenly move on to the more fictional style of writing. A combination of recollections of childhood memories of life in an African country in the first part titled: The African Connection-Memories of Childhood which is dominated by the autobiographical genre, the reader is introduced in this part with the voice that he will find throughout the book. The second part, Titled: The Asian and Western Connection - describes the immediate past flowing into the present. Although the reader comes across the familiar voice of the narrator, he will notice a clear shift in the writing style from that of the autobiography to that of narrative fiction based on different genres based on adventure, suspense, mystery, and fantasy. The third part titled: The Andromeda Connection the Future where the genre changes completely to that of Science Fiction. The predominant use of the third person narration might suggest a degree of maturity and the healthy detachment of a leader of a group. Readers may find the shifts in the narrative style sometimes perplexing, (The author begs them to bear with him) but here, the author would like to state that the idea is to provide a rainbow experience of reading without being bound to read each story in a chronological order, something very oriental a way of describing the complexities of life with varied themes, stories and writing styles.
The Andromeda Connection, A Journey in time will be available shorty on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Flipkart in both soft cover version and E-book version. Published in association with Partridge Publications, I am indebted to Antoniet Saints and Joe Anderson for helping me bring out this book. I would like to acknowledge my family for supporting me in my endeavour, and my students for insisting that I should write my stories in a compiled form! The Andromeda Connection, A Journey in Time is the result of two years of writing short stories, anecdotes and reminiscences on my blog titled:http:// rodrick writes.BlogSpot.com. My advice to all aspiring writers is to write their thoughts and ideas in a form that would be accessible in later times. In times where writing in long hand has become tedious and time consuming, it makes sense to use a  blog as a diary to save a resource of material that can be used in later times when the aspiring writer might decide to publish his or her work.
I sincerely hope that my friends enjoy reading The Andromeda Connection, A Journey in Time as a compilation of short stories written in different genres. I look forward to the support of all my friends and acquaintances in making this book a bestseller, not because I tell them to do so, but because of the merits of the book!



Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Bricks and Mortar


Bricks and mortar do not a Church so build,
Nor do walls and computers a school so build!
For what the good Lord had said, ‘tis people and pupils
Who make the Church and the school!

Walls and fancy gadgets don’t  churches  and schools define,
‘Tis the culture  of people and their smiles that  mark so fine,
A building that's made of faith, love and grace! Sure a lesson
Should we learn,  that bricks and mortar do not a Church build!

For so have  I learnt a lesson so fine, of  will and spirit
That reign so fine! For what if you’d convert a Church to fit,
The latest  Malls to put to shame? For if you would desire
To quench a thirst, why not with the spirit so fine?

And so to Cardinal and Principal I’d beg to say,
‘Sell not  your temple for a few pounds  to pay.
For sure, ‘tis not the bricks and mortar that a haven
Build, its the the smiles of love that temples do build!

Thus  do I walk a mile , and  see the shambles of
A church that once swayed over one and all! Whereof
Have those that  once prayed gone away? Of the  students
And teachers  see I naught! Of the school all that remains is a ruin!

For surely,Bricks and mortar schools don’t build,
‘Tis the spirit and love that  church and schools do build!
And I the lost wanderer do search for church and schools to see.
But, alas of bricks and mortal  all to see ruins so frail!

Of Cardinals  and Principals little do I see, as a cold wind
Does blow the dust, the mortar, that once did bind,
Of the voices of evensong that once did ring,
All I hear, are whispers of those long gone!

For surely you don’t build a Church and a School
With bricks and mortar and edifice  so full,
Its people who matter so much to drive away the
Silence that blanks out the cries of  empty shells!

For so do I sing a song to please - that brick and mortar
Temples don’t make! A school would I make that  far
Beyond  in years would surely last. To celebrate the spirit so
Great  would I surely use to build a temple so!

So why would you build a fortress so a prison to trap
Innocent souls so dear? For if your want to trap,
The spirits so fair, you’d surely build a castle so sheer.
With brick and mortar that trap the soul!

It is surely the faithful and the curious that
Churches and schools do make, not that
Would I aver, for bricks and mortar only
Dungeons and prison make,


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Epiphany Church, Gurgaon extends a warm welcome to the Delegates, Councillors for World Vision, (SAARC) and Observers of the forthcoming Synodial Convention in Delhi


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Gurgaon, 24.08.2014:Today we were honoured to welcome some of the Delegates to the Synodial Convention taking place in Delhi. We had seven of the Delegates who took out valuable time out of their busy schedule to visit us on a Sunday morning and have Communion with us. Among the delegates who visited us today were the Rt. Rev. S.S. Majaw, of the Presbytarian Church of India, the Moderator of the Schosi Jaintia Diocese, of Meghalaya, Elder Frankincense Dkhar or the Shangpung Presbytarian Church, Jaintia Hills district, Meghalaya State, Rev. Ruth Rekha Michael, of the Subbiah Circle, Bangalore, Rev. Asir Ebenezer, Director, Diagonal Concerns, CSI Synod, Rt. Revd. Samuel Sunil Mankhan, Bishop of the Kushtia Diocese, Bangladesh, Rev. Simson Mazumdar, Church of Bangladesh, City Church, Dean of Rajshahi Deanery, Rajpara, and Mr. Zosiama Thaianglai, Asstt. Secretary, Khristian Youth Fellowship (KYF), Biaterram Presbytarian Church Synod, Lura Village, East Jaintia Hills, District Meghalaya.
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Rev. S.S. Majjaw, pictured above delivered the sermon on the day. He drew examples from the book of Haggai and talked at length about how the world exists in danger and how it is up to us to use our time wisely. One should not lose heart in times of tribulation because of the Lord’s promise to be with us always, even when we are in the middle of difficulties!

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The Rt. Revd. Samuel Sunil Mankhin, Bishop of the Kushtia Diocese in Bangladesh helped the Presbyter, Revd. Sunil S. Ghazan and Ordinand Sachin with serving Communion.
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Mrs. Helen Harrison, the Hon’ Secretary of the Pastorate welcomed the Delegates

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Raw Song of Love

We can light up the night with  our passion, you
And me, our feelings casting a glow to light up
The darkness of hate and jealousy, where they
Destroy each other, turn everything to ashes.
Sure, we could we teach the world a lesson in
Love, which gives to others but doesn’t snatch!

We’d burn up our differences, and teach them
That fight amongst themselves, laying to waste,
Ashes to dust,  fired with hate so profound, as
They wallow in a pit of darkness so deep, they
See not those that light like candles but sputter.

Sure could you and me teach the world a lesson or
Two as we burn the night in our passion, untrammelled
By ego or hate, or jealousy, as bound together in a night
Of love, as we lay aside our differences, sure, we
Could bring time to a standstill as we meld into each other!

Your kisses and smiles, oh so sweet and innocent that
I would surely like to drown in them, I would surely love
To save a bit for the morrow to share some with the others,
To tell them that love does transcend all hatred, that does
Threaten to drown the world in a pool of apathy and mistrust.

Sure we could light up the world with the fire of our
Passion,where the world does fight amongst themselves,
Cutting and hacking at lives with promise with hatred and
Jealousy so deep, that threatens to blanket the world in
The night of apathy and hostility so dark.

Thus will we light up the world with the fire of our
Passion, like two fire-flies intertwined with each other,
To light up the dark path for the lonely traveller
Hurrying on to his wife and children, though we
Might burn in our efforts, but to light the world would
Be our contribution to a world that has no love!

And so we hold each other in our arms, as the night
Marches past, as we kiss a passionate kiss, our souls
That merge with a glow so warm, my love, would I not
Give away my all for your kiss, that would dispel all my
Fears and apprehensions of what the world would say!

Though we might burn to ashes in our passionate
Embrace, you and me, to live another life as a single
Soul would suite us, for together a new world we’d
Make, where the petals of the rose would replace the
Thorns that prick, together we’d win win all to love!

Of love so pure would we sing, all through the night,
Though all do sleep a sleep so shallow,as they plan
Whom to vanquish and mock the next day, like tapers
We’d burn, to light up the path to joy for lovers that pine,
For so is the message of love, that there be light at
The end of the tunnel, a new dawn that greets the defeated!

A message we’d leave for the rest of the world, that though
We’d burn in our passions so great, our love would be
A message that those that love would cast a light for all
To see, that love be better than hatred though it might
Not be approved by those grey-beards that divide asunder.

So for lovers that love so true, would be our message so clear,
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to have hated and gained,
A bagful of ashes so acrid so bitter! So heed the voice of two
Lovers so sincere, that spend the night in a passion so bright,
That would light up the night so profound and lead the lonely traveller
Home to a heated hearth and a wife and children that love.
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Monday, 18 August 2014

Experimenting with still life, close-ups, Macro, and blurring of backgrounds


Sometimes, intentional blurring of the background and the accompanying surreal impact brought about by the shallow depth of field might invest ordinary objects with an otherworldly aspect. My favourite settings for a deliberate blurring of the background includes and f-stop / aperture of 5.6, or less accompanied by an ISO setting of 100 to 200. Depending on the light conditions, you might opt for a shutter speed of 125 to 500, depending on the lighting. I used natural sunlight as using a flashlight was a strict no because most of the miniature objects that I photographed were made of glass or crystal.  I guess you could do a little bit or trial and error experiments with the shutter speed. The Camera I used for the shots below is a Canon 1100-D DSLR.

A Glass Dolphin lights up the Sky

A Glass Dolphin
Camera:Canon 1100D, f-5.6, Exposure 1/500, ISO, 100

The Eifel Tower in Delhi- NCR
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Breaking rules, I used the following settings, f-29, speed 1/200, ISO-800, focal length-36 mm, and yes, I used a flash since the object was made of metal and I was shooting into the sun.
T
he Flying  Glass Tortoise

The Flying  Tortoise
Camera- Canon 1100D, f-11, speed: 1/250, ISO-100 Focal Length- 25 mm

The Two Love-birds

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Camera, Canon 1100D, f-11, speed, 1/250, ISO-100, focal length: 25 mm
The Golden Chalice
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Camera Canon 1100D, f-11, Exposure 1/250, ISO 100, focal length-25 mm.

Fun with Photography - using mobile phones to take amazing snaps



While visiting a couple of malls in Gurgaon, namely Gurgaon Central, Sahara Mall, and Spencers, I came across a few objects that I felt I had to somehow capture! Since I didn’t have a DSL with me, I felt I had to make do with a simple but good camera on board a Micromax Canvass II mobile phone, and in any case, I came up really pleased! I have pasted as under, a few of the photographs taken on a Sunday afternoon, after attending Sunday Mass.
The Fly on top of this packet of imported stuff made an ideal object to photograph!
The sheer impact of these streamers cannot be missed in this snap!
The colours of the Tricolours could be seen amongst these streamers that hung down from the ceiling of the lobby of one of the malls. It being a Sunday, I just couldn’t buy anything because of the long queues before the sales counters, so I decided to make do with photographing the decorations!
An ingenious use of Tea Boxes at one Mall created a unique model of the Taj Mahal.
The balloons in tricolours brought out the essence of Independence Day.
While it is true that the best possible pastime for most people lies in visiting the Malls in and around Gurgaon. visiting picnic spots in the summer season has become a strict no no, especially because of the heat. Moreover, you might be able to get an attractive enough discount on special days, especially during Independence Day and Republic Day.
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“Be the Light,” The Epiphany Church, Gurgaon - Annual Convention 2014


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This year too, the Annual Convention of the Epiphany Church Gurgaon took place on the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth of August and the speaker on the occasion was Mr. B.Prabhakar Chandran, Director, India Youth for Christ, Kerala. The theme on the occasion was, “Let there be light.”
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The Sunday School Children at their best
Mr. Prabhakar talked about what constitutes being a Christian. in today’s context, to handle the family, and to shed light not just in the family, but also in the world in which we live. He talked at length about how one’s spiritual life is reflected in the way the family exists. Mr. Prabhakar also  talked about how a Christian is a new man, and this poses a challenge especially in the face of difficulties. He made it clear that “God knows your breaking point and bearing point.” He talked at length about Joseph and his travails as described in the Old Testament. The Lord was with Joseph throughout his life, and thus he was able to come out of tribulation with grace. He was tempted by his Master’s wife and yet was able to hold his own. Mr. Prabhakar made it clear that, “If you want to shine, you should be able to see the fingerprints of the Almighty Lord in the difficult circumstances you are living in. The way you react to the circumstances reflects the kind of faith you have in the Lord.” Mr. Prabhakar went on to state that, “When you become successful, you become vulnerable, and as a Christian you have the duty to be able to resist and fight temptation.” Here he reminded the gathering about how Joseph was able to resist the machinations of his master’s wife who wished to sleep with him. Mr. Prabhakar talked about the meaning of being spiritual. He talked about what being spiritual means. One has to choose between worldly life and a spiritual life. The meetings on the fifteenth and the sixteenth took place in the evenings while on the seventeenth, the meeting took place in the morning.
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The Convenor, Mrs. Ruth Nigam and her brother leading the Sunday School Children
The convention was attended by a large number of the members of the congregation. A number of soul inspiring numbers were presented by the  Church Choir, the Women’s Fellowship and the Youth Fellowship. The clinching numbers were presented by the children of the Sunday School and their teachers. All the numbers were truly soul inspiring and the church members who were present were certainly enthralled by the praise and worship numbers presented by the different groups of the church. Mr. Ronojoy Sircar and Mirialm Sircar presented  a number that was appreciated by all. Mrs. Ruth Nigam and her Brother presented a few numbers that were truly soul-stirring.On the first day of the convention we were graced by Revd. Asha Vaid, who had found the time to visit us. Revd.. Sunil S. Ghazan, and Sachin, and Ordinand Sachin contributed a lot to the success of the event. There were two members of the congregation who worked behind the scenes to make the convention a grand success and they were Mr. D.D.Lall and Mr. Sunil Massey - they put in a lot of time and energy in ensuring that the logistics went ahead without a hitch. Without putting in more words, I have pasted all over this post photographs on the occasion which, I feel speak louder than words.
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Mr. Naveen Kumar Chauhan, a sportsman by profession deigned to offer his  precious time in translating Mr. Prabhakar’s message in Hindi.
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Listening in rapt attention
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Preachers and Laity participating in a moment of praise and worship
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The Congregation listening in rapt attention to Mr. Prabhakar’s Message
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A Spiritual number by Antara and Romina of the WFCS
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Members of the Youth Fellowship Presenting their number.
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From Left to Right, Mrs. Ruth Nigam, Mrs. Miriam Sircar, Mrs. Ivy Lal and Mr. Ronojoy Sircar presenting a number.
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Mrs. Ruth Nigam presenting Revd. Asha Vaid ( Also the first Lady Presbyter of the Diocese of Delhi) with a memento as an appreciation for finding the time to visit us
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Miss Namrata Basumata presenting the speaker with a token of thanks
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On the concluding day, Mrs. Helen Harrison on the left (The  Hon. Secretary of the Pastorate Committee, and Ms. E.Newton, The Hon. Treasurer of the Pastorate Committee
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On the concluding day, prior  to seeing off Mr. Prabhakar

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Monday, 11 August 2014

Griffin’s Manifesto for a New World Order


Griffin’s Manifesto
In chapter 24 of the Novel, The Invisible Man, Griffin describes his Manifesto for a new world order. This manifesto is provided to Dr. Kemp with the hope that he would be interested in joining forces with Griffin and thus share and taste the benefits. The truth, however is that Dr.Kemp has other things in mind, especially the note that he had sent to Colonel Adye, the Chief of the Burdock Police. Griffin spells out his plans for the new world order in the following terms:
  • He advocates an era of, ‘Judicious Killing,’ a term which is ironical in itself, an oxymoron!
  • He wants to set up a reign of terror in the town of Burdock which would include terrorizing and intimidating the people.
  • Griffin suggests that in his new scheme, all those who are against him and those who support them will be eliminated.
What does the manifesto reveal about the Character of Griffin?
An analysis of this manifesto reveals the inner workings of Griffin’s mind. He might be labelled as a misanthrope who wants to eliminate the human race. What started as a desire for petty mischief like robbing people, or frightening them by shouting in their ears that the devil is in the basket, endus up in something more sinister! now Griffin wants to dominate the world. He might also be seen as a person who is obsessed with power and the desire to take revenge on a society that (he feels) has never acknowledged his capabilities.  Griffin has a grudge against the society this reason! Listening to Griffin's description of his world view Dr. Kemp can't help but call  him, ‘Mad’ and suggests that ‘he has schemes against his species’. While some may call him a megalomaniac, others might call him a person who has a personal vendetta against the society for perceived slights that he thinks have been heaped on his head. To others he might be a misanthrope. We have in Griffin, the qualities of a would be dictator, a person who would like to subjugate humanity through his anti-human policies.
Griffin’s expectations from Dr. Kemp
Griffin, throughout his discourse about his manifesto expects Dr. Kemp to be a ‘Confederate’ in the new scheme of things. By  using  the word, ‘Confederate’   Griffin wants to  offer to Kemp a relationship that would be one between equals, unlike the unequal relationship that exists between Marvel and him. As a Confederate, Griffin expects Dr. Kemp to be wholly in sync with his nefarious schemes. Griffin makes it clear that he wants someone whom he can depend upon, in terms of mental aptitude and capabilities. In Dr. Kemp he sees the opportunity of enjoying financial and material support, food, shelter, and a secure environment free from the fear of being apprehended by the police.
How does Dr. Kemp react to Griffin's offer
 Dr. Kemp however is clearly not interested in Griffin’s offer and he has one eye on the approaching  men led by Colonel Adye. Dr. Demp is appalled by the suggestion and when Griffin tells him that 'it is killing we must do,' he repeats the words as if to confirm that he has heard them right. Dr. Kemp voices his disagreement in the words, ' "I don't agree to this, Griffin,...Why dream of playing a game against the race? How can you hope to gain happiness? Don't be a lone wolf. Publish your results; take the world - take the nation at least - into your confidence." ' Perhaps things would have been different if Griffin had shared his discovery, but then he certainly had an agenda against the world!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Was Griffin happy after discovering the secret to invisibility in the novel, The Invisible Man? Inspiring lessons from the CBSE

I had a wonderful discussion with the Humanities students today while going through the twenty-third chapter of The Invisible Man. The bone of contention was whether life has a meaning if it is not associated with the impact that one has on other people’s lives. The question of the day  put before the students was whether the discovery of invisibility had any useful purpose in terms of furthering the human cause. The students claimed that if Griffin had achieved invisibility, it meant that he had achieved his life’s goal and so he would have been happy. The reality, was however, that Griffin was not in any way satisfied with what he had achieved. In fact he recounts the fact that invisibility had brought with it more problems than advantages. Take for example the description of  not being able to enjoy the benefits of having Delilah as a lover, or for that effect Griffin’s inability to enjoy his food in the first restaurant because he was worried about exposing his face while eating his food. But then what meaning did life have for Griffin? Apparently life had no meaning for him because his discovery did not benefit anyone at all, and so perhaps the achievement did not have any meaning for mankind as a whole.
The desire of achieving invisibility, though initially fed by an honest curiousity to explore optics,  an unknown area from scientist’s point of view, later becomes tempered with a desire to show the world what he is. The frustration of being, ‘a shabby, poverty – struck, hemmed in demonstrator, teaching fools in a provincial college,’ - chapter 19, very clearly suggests that the motive for discovering the secret of invisibility had nothing to do with the ethics of scientific research, or perhaps even furthering a good cause for humanity. It was born out a desire for wreaking vengeance on a society that had refused too recognize his talents, a society that he feels had wronged him by not allowing him the opportunity to come out of his poverty. It is for this reason, one might claim that Griffin’s euphoria resulting from the discovery soon fades away. In chapter 23, Griffin explains, ‘But you begin to realise the full disadvantage of my condition. I had no shelter – no covering – to get clothing was to forego all my advantage, to make myself a strange and terrible thing.’ It is not only the cold that drives Griffin crazy, it is also hunger that makes him mad. His brief stay at the emporium in chapter 22 reminds him that he is more of an outcast now after achieving invisibility. All the doors were closed to him, nobody would welcome him home, he has become  the ‘caricature’ of a human being. This is even more evident in chapter 23 when he looks into the mirror after helping himself to glasses, whiskers, and the ‘hunchback’s boots’.
As a result of his experiment, Griffin finally becomes a ‘bandaged caricature of a man’. Who can say that he was a happy man after achieving success? Success came at the cost of his losing his humanness, and his ability to live in the company of human beings. Perhaps the greatest irony of the situation comes up when deciding to treat himself to a ‘sumptuous feast’, he visits a restaurant, almost places the order, but then realises that to eat food in a public place would mean that he would have to expose his invisible face. He is forced to turn to another restaurant that offered poorer quality of food but had the facility of providing him with a separate room which offered him privacy from prying eyes. Griffin’s sense of frustration mostly fuelled by the results of his experiment in invisibility, is brought out in the words, ‘Ambition – what is the good of pride of place when you cannot appear there? What is the good of love of woman when her name must needs be Delilah!’-Chapter 23.
The question is, how can a man enjoy happiness after achieving a sort of success which he can’t flaunt amongst others? How can a person who is all the time on the run enjoy a moment of peace and thereby contentment? Is Griffin happy about his achievement, is there anything to be proud about achieving invisibility? In his words, ‘I made a mistake…a huge mistake, in carrying this thing through alone. I have wasted strength, time, opportunities. Alone – it is wonderful how little a man can do alone! To rob a little,to hurt a little, and there is the end.’ Somehow, the reader might claim that Griffin’s invisibility was the result of circumstance, primarily because the the landlord had come knocking at his door with ‘threats and inquiries’ regarding Griffin’s ‘vivisection’ of the cat, which leads to an altercation and fisticuffs between the landlord and his tenant. Griffin’s unthinking audacity and violent behaviour with the landlord could lead to only one conclusion, namely his eviction from his lodgings. In his own words, ‘At the thought of the possibility of my work being exposed or interrupted at its climax, I became very angry and active.’ The final emotions that drive Griffin towards taking invisibility towards its next stage, are not in any case associated with the joys of scientific discovery, rather they are associated with the feelings of vindictiveness, anger, and restlessness. Nothing that Griffin does, the hard work that he puts in, his robbing his father leading to his committing suicide nothing can give Griffin the pleasure of having achieved success. Griffin can only wallow in self-pity, blame the society, and the circumstances but not feel pride or happiness in what he has achieved!

Note: I could have written the title of this piece as, 'Did Invisibility make Griffin Happy?' or 'Was Griffin Happy to be Invisible?' but instead I decided to put in a lengthier title because the idea was to give stress to the process, the sequence of events leading to his achieving success. The continuous tense form of the verb, 'discover' is thus intentional. It is not the event, but the circumstances leading to it that determine whether or not Griffin will ever be a happy man! I