“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” – Mark Twain
I like reading books. I love them. I love the idea that simple words we use everyday, can create a magical world, hidden in the clouds, or under the sea, in the forest or maybe, just inside the wall next to your bed. Your books may leave you in a world of fantasy for, maybe, a month, or may give you another reason to not read. The same books may change your entire prospective or deepen your believe further. These little words printed on paper, spin themselves to create a world from which, in most cases, escape doors are hard to find. It is the same words that made me read 5 books in 9 days. And to be truthful, I am proud of this endeavor. Yes, quite a feat actually.
I read the Hunger Games: Trilogy (which I got very cheap for just Rs.600 from Flipkart, very cheap), then I read The Undomestic Goddess, and finally, Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Frankly, I am full of surprise that someone can twist a story as well as Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games). I even enjoyed The Undomestic Goddess, but Those Pricey Thakur Girls turned out to be a disappointment. I think it was a wee bit spicy for my taste.
Before I say more, let me narrate to you, how my love affair with books started. It was the red- colored ‘Famous Five’ that caught my attention at a stationary shop in my tenth (not sure) year of existence on the earth. And down on my knees I went, begging my father to buy me the one book I wanted. Everyone at my house, my pa, grandpa, and my aunts, all read books. It turned out to be quite sorrowful for my father later, when he realized that I had not inherited a single gene from that department. So he made hay while the sun shined and bought me the book, which, of course, I read and loved. I read two more books from the same series and that is when I discovered that there is a huge world out there, with many people, who have nothing else to do, writing books. Roald Dahl, R.L Stine, Ruskin Bond were some of the early authors read. Just as my interest in books grew, so did my collection, which now covers an entire wall in the smallest room of our house (not all books are mine; some are dad’s while some are as old as my grand dad).
This is my first love. No matter how old I become, no matter how gloomy the day may seem, no matter if the world is fighting the WWIII, these printed papers always manage to take my mind of things and carry me to London, to study at Hogwarts, or some fifty million years later to Panem, to attend the Hunger Games, of before the birth of Christ to witness the fight between Shiva and Daksha. And I might just add, even if you feel morose, and the only flicker of hope had died away, the yellow, rusty and smelly old pages of your favorite books will surely make you smile and crinkle up the edges of your eyes. Books are that escape from the world that even a migration to, say, Pluto, won’t provide.
You may not have any money in your wallet, but books travel with you, along with all the characters in the story, and don’t ask for payment. I know this sounds insane, but I can tell you exactly where the Starbucks in London is, or how large is the Central Park in New York and where the lake is, or maybe, where Rusty had his first kiss, in Dehra. It’s all because I read stories based there (God forbid, my father plans a trip there). Books, like people, don’t ask favors, but just keep unrolling the stories they carry, collected from many places, without a stop, and without any moment’s hesitation grab your hand and mind and pull you on board in this journey called Life. Books are companions for life, just as C.W.Eliot says:
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
For people, whose lovers betrayed them, for husbands, whose wives are dead and wives whose husbands have gone the same way. For children who could never meet there parents, or to parents whose children have stopped caring for them, books provide the ultimate retreat. The people feel the connect to characters like Harry (orphaned), Rusty (abandoned), Katniss/Peeta (uncared) or going into old classics, Romeo and Juliet (loved, hated and finally killed) or the ancient mariner (whose regret was much harder to carry than to live life) or Ullin’s daughter (whose father failed to understand her love for the chieftain) are just to name a few. People reach out at an emotional level with character so heart melting and thus, feel the need to not just read, but also know more.
And you know, the best things about books? They let us create our world. They don’t dictate our imagination. For instance, Rowling’s description of the castle, “Hogwarts a vast stone castle, with many turrets and towers. It sits high on a cliff, overlooking the grounds, the lake and the forest. The ceiling of the Great Hall, where the students and staff gather for meals and other events, is bewitched to look like the sky outside,” shows that the person is free to image that the ceiling to be ten stories high, or twenty stories high and so on. The person is free to picture that the ceiling may be wooden or plastic or steel, or may be none at all and just pure magic that doesn’t let rain wet the seated. And also they make good bathroom reads.
So be it sunshine or rain, droughts or flood, happy times or sad times, books survive all. So whenever you are feeling blue, just remember that you always have someone to turn to. Because, nothing is better than having a hot coffee mug in your hands, perched up on the big armchair, and smell and see and feel and read you favorite book and move on.