Saturday, 16 June 2018

How I Fell for the Words

As a child I seldom touched novels. To be more specific, I ran away from them, as if those innocent pages had the ability to burn my skin. I wonder whether I will ever be able to jot down the reasons adding to my apathy against reading during those early days. It has been years, yet I cannot stop thinking about those days, about all those times I did not lay my eyes upon the sacred texts which opened the portals to new dimensions of our Universe, opened the doors to our very own world sometimes, a world which otherwise is very good at wrapping up its secrets. Perhaps I was too lazy to run my eyes along the lines or perhaps assumed the task of processing meaning from words to be too exhausting. Well, whatsoever the reason was, I miserably regret that specific apathy I had.

However, being raised by parents who were avid readers, as good as book worshippers, I never suffered from the lack of a good read. During middle school, when I talked about books, which was very rare, I remember how my classmates were often taken by surprise when it came to their understanding that every other book they mentioned, had a copy securely hibernating in one of the shelves in my home. That was how I realized that books were not as common as table salt or pepper. They could have been however, if the world was not as ignorant as I was. That was the time during which I started valuing books. Not because I wanted to read them, but because I wanted to capture that rare essence, under the influence of the knowledge that very few were fortunate enough to be surrounded by the yellowing pages of wisdom.

I did not love them, I knew that very well. In fact, it marked the beginning of my lust for books. I often confided my feelings in them by momentarily visiting the racks. I spent hours turning pages, not reading, but skimming. Not one book at a time, but maybe ten at one go. I turned to random pages, selected random paragraphs, read until it failed to enrapture me with its spell, and of course, it was not long before I abandoned that page for another. While walking through the chaos of random sentences, I seldom took to smelling the wary books. They smelled of old pages, and as days passed, it became my smoke of ecstasy. When I got wary of not finding enough magic in the sentences, the fragrance became my rescue, and oddly enough, I used to feel that even that strange smell restored wisdom in me, as if through osmosis.

Perhaps it was my personal way of making up for the years lost in running away from the goblet of pure knowledge, or at least, believing that I was making up.

It was a matter of years, and then, even though it should have been sooner, I realized that I had the potential to love. I did not just mingle with the pages for their ecstatic smell or for the selfish motive of quick wisdom, but for the very first time, I wanted to know what that page had to say. I read.

That was when I was taken aback by the power a book could carry. I was astonished to feel my mind under the influence of simple ink on parchment. The words stayed with me, and it was as I had lived a hundred years at a very ripe age. To put it in simple terms, I realized that a book could carry me beyond ages and places without any restraint in time or space, essentially because of the naïve mind. If you have studied your biology well, you will know that most of our senses report to our mind and then the mind processes that particular feeling or stimuli. Well, a book becomes our senses when we readers indulge in one. It directly feeds the stimuli to our mind, and our mind helps us get carried away to worlds far beyond our very own.

My love for books was complicated. Once I started with one of their pages, I couldn’t stop. I could read until my eyes hurt or my mind got exhausted with the extensive travel. I knew this was insane, and quite risky, given my role as a student in this world. I had to get back to tasks, which was of course, a mountain of struggles. But I managed to get back, because “it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”.

There was a problem though. Once I exited my fantasies, I found it very difficult to go back, knowing very well that it will take me a solid effort to pull out of one as soon as the reality ushers me again. After months on end I stayed away from my books. Not because I did not want to read one, but because I had to sort out my priorities, and the list was not very often headed by very pleasing tasks. But I would come back when I could and spend days on end completing rows of books at one go.

I was like a soldier fighting against the daily calls of duty, coming back home after months to express my love to those closest to the heart. Books were my family, they were my home. Perhaps that is why they advise us to be avid readers, because books have the power to keep our homesick hearts at bay. They are like tiny blocks of our home which has its foundation in a parallel Universe. They are a part of ourselves living apart, in another world and in another time.

With a book, every day is a hundred days crammed in one. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”. It is our ticket to a sunrise amid the stars.

16th June, 2018
Pictures: Google Images