I have been trying to write a blog post for some time now. It’s not for want of time or lack of a topic that I did not; it was a sheer disinclination to put thoughts into constructive sentences impeded by liberal attacks of indolence. Writing just like speaking is an art. There are different pieces that appeal to you as a reader. Some have a characteristic style that hits you and never quite lets you forget. Take for example Rushdie, Marquez, Voltaire, Orwell or Kafka. Others just have a well-formed thought process brilliantly captured in a simple narrative. Many of the classics belong to this genre. The best I can think of is Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan and then Saki or R.K Narayan. There are authors who blow you away with their characters and underlying themes so much that it overshadows the main narrative itself. Take for example Catcher in the Rye, Lolita, Karenina or Grapes of Wrath. Finally there are the philosophies .This has the greatest connect with your heart. Often no one stops to ponder at the quality of writing with these works. In such cases, it’s the message that matters. Think Marx, Ayn Rand or Tolstoy. Many of these also happen to be literary masterpieces in their own right.
The other day one of my friends made an observation that I am a communist by heart. He was referring to my choice in reading and thought he had caught me at a time when I had let my guard down. Perhaps, true and naught. Books give you freedom that you don’t have in real life. It helps you to be many things at once and enjoy contradictory states of existence. There is a definite abandon to let your thoughts flow in a bizarre manner. There are no goals to reach, nor paths to tread and companions to keep up with. Its everyman’s wife and bitch, alcohol and buttermilk, naiveté and perverseness all at the same time. They don’t cast you in shelves with headings. Have you ever heard someone being referred to as only a reader of classics or dark humor or religious texts? Perhaps not. So what is so different about books as compared to films or any other form of art? Isn’t each liberating in its own way? The answer is a yes but also that books aren’t weighed down by timelines and points of references that other works of art suffer from. Your senses are not bombarded in the literary world. Take for instance that Rumi happens to be the most popular author in the most islamophobic nation –USA. If Rumi’s lines were adapted in a lyrical narrative onscreen most probably audiences would stay away. There are numerous such instances. The answer perhaps lies in the fact that books are read and enjoyed alone but movies and songs are seen by collective audiences. The latter also removes a person out of his comfort zone by giving a shape and voice to what was before a mere strand of thought.
I wonder if children of today read and if so what do they read? Every time I walk into a bookstore I make it a point to visit the children section. I am often glad to see little kids sitting quietly engrossed in a book. These are the children born after Harry Potter and, other numerous fantasy fictions invaded our libraries. I don’t see Enid Blytons, Hardy Boys or Three Investigators that much anymore. I see a lot of something called the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wonder what that is. Perhaps one day I will pick up a copy and read to see if the world I grew up in is the same as the one today’s kids grow up in. Perhaps not and that’s the way it should be. Books open doors to many worlds and many states of being and there is enough space to celebrate Wimpy Kids, adventurous children, quirky aunts and great battles all in a tiny microcosm stashed in some secret corner somewhere that we don’t know of.