By Mayank Jain:
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” â€• Maya Angelou
Year 1993, Bill Clinton’s inauguration as America’s president; and a lady walked on the stage with poise, accentuated by her 6 feet height. She came and recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning”, becoming the only poet after Robert Frost to recite at a President’s inauguration. This poem’s recording introduced her to the world, once again and she received a Grammy for the same.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Life is not about ‘life quotes‘, but if it is, Maya Angelou is the one who should have ruled the world with her blunt realism and colossal optimism that reflected in her writings as a mirror reflects the sun. Her writing not only moved readers to the core, but she made sure they remembered her for a long time. She introduced the world to a new kind of memoirs, gave it courage to talk about personal lives and never shied away from telling the right thing, even if it meant being the victim of sensationalism.
Nobel, Grammy et al
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Marguerite Ann Johnson, fondly known as Maya Angelou was an American author and poet but a lot more than just that. Apart from being a Nobel Laureate, she received over thirty honorary doctoral degrees and her work spans TV shows, plays and even movies. She also grabbed Grammy for three spoken word albums.
She is known all over the world for her seven books of autobiography which revealed the darkest and the brightest facets of human existence to the world in the most beautifully crafted sentences that would pierce through the heart and leave a dent in the mind.
She also wrote three books of essays and numerous poetries which will be always treasured in the literary world as the gold mines of insights on humanity and its quest for happiness and freedom.
A Caged Bird That Sang
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”
She was a victim of sexual abuse and rape from her mother’s boyfriend while she was living with her, at the tender age of just 8. The culprit was found to be guilty but only spent a day behind the bars and when he came out, he was murdered, possibly by her uncles. The incident broke her into pieces and thus began her quest of writing on the perils of being a women in a male dominated world.
She wrote passionately on gender equalities, racism and the shackles that inferiority complex binds a person into. Her first autobiography published in the 1969 with the title I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings sums up her journey from an oppressed woman to find dignity and strength during the course of life. She didn’t shy away from revealing the worst, accepting the gory details and yet, managed to inculcate optimism in her readers through her journey that continued on to be one of the most loved stories.
The One Who Lives
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”
From fighting racist comments in her country to making over 80 appearances a year to deliver lectures on varied issues, Angelou did it all. She was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement and worked closely with Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Describing her relationship with Malcolm as a brother sister relationship, Angelou never let the world get above her and relentlessly continued to make it better.
Her beauty of reinventing yourself after something breaks is an indelible stamp and shall serve as the gold standard for the rest of the world to catch up with.
Born in 1928, Maya Angelou has quietly left the world, peacefully at her home in Winston-Salem. She died at the age of 86 and the world will miss the lady who taught it to be hopeful, considerate and never let us forget that “Life’s a bitch” but with an advice that empowers the world like nothing else: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”