Why the Writer is our best friend. How reading interests varies in search of such friends.
The world needs stories, poems and news. They need us too. The stories, poems and news need us to connect with the inner child in us who gets entertained by the images seen in a distorted mirror.
In our innocence, we believe that we are real people, that everything about us is boring, whether skewed or otherwise, and we therefore stress about changing it to fit in a fixed, beautiful image thatwill redeem our life. In such a scenario, when we read, hear or see a story that we connect with for personal reasons we are given a chance to get into the shoes of a character that we’d love to be, hate to be or excited to be or plain scared to imagine. Wow! life has come to give us a glimpse of how boring could actually be mesmerising, how then by our mere existence we are enriching other people’s experiential living.
Many a times, writers/ poets are blamed for being shameless voyeurs or rumour-mongers and unfriended in view of not giving them a chance to be our imaginary puppeteers. Unfortunately, hence by shunning them, we avoid their produce and return to our boring lives and protect it from providing it a chance to change into a fertile something.
If stories, poems and news are the precursors of things to come, characters we make popular dictate the society we create. The more we ignore or hide from them, the more we tend to fall back into the dark ages. Incorrigible lovers like Scarlett of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the old man lover in ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, both maverick and passionate, both caught up in the winds of change in theirtown that forebodes peace only at the expense of life-changing heart-breaks are unforgettable for readers of romance. Trust me, spunk was never more glorified than by these two characters when it came to chasing the love of their lives, while sparking fires throughout their adventurous journey.
She/He is a writer. It is just not adequate a profession for anyone. She/He must do something more.When I made one of the characters a successful writer in my first novel, AN ETERNAL ROMANTIC, I had no idea that I was just borrowing a trend that was setting in–of every Tom, Dick and Harriet turning into a writer. Though the real hero or the main character, if I may say so, was a doctor, maybe the writer-character took the cake for being the doctor’s point of obsession. What transpires is a fight between love and logic and the resolution that follows, being true to the main character’sfight against her troubled mind. But my writing career is comparable to a little babe’s first few steps in the literary woods. Because I must read more to make more writer friends before I can nail down the art of writing to its very quivering nuances. To become many people’s best friend, I must write a book with characters that sets you, the reader, above his or her normal set imagination. To recruit new readers from the generation of people who identify reading with European luxury or intellectual’s groove, I must identify a genre that will cater to a niche in many people’s mind at once. Genres are many, the trick to capture market is yet an elusive formula.
Often, we confuse light reading with trash reading. While both may look like passing a time a while, it is considerably different. The word ‘considerably’ here makes a difference because one kind of reading promotes consideration whereas the other type just boosts the superficial ego. Your guess is as good as mine as to what kind of reading does what. My favourite kind oflight reading in younger days used to be stuff like Asterix and Obelix comics, Tintin series, Robin Cook, Alistair Maclean, Panchatantra comics, Sherlock Holmes, Chacha Chowdhury comics, Hercule Poirot series, Agatha Christie but my staple diet was Enid Blyton for a long, long time; then also Newspapers, reader’s digest and other magazines etc. My trash reading list included Mills and Boons, Sidney Sheldon,Film fare and other film magazines. Thinking of my light reading list makes me wanna go back to my childhood era and thinking of my trash reading list makes me want to find solace in something else, like right now, at this age. So yes, I did read Diary of a wimpy kid, Chetan Bhagat, Lord of the Rings, and Fifty shades of Grey (stuff for different ages now) but I was looking for a writer who could have enriched our children’s lives like Enid Blyton did–someone who could have given their childhood a magical belonging. I know the ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’ series have mused them beyond their boundaries of normal thinking and flexed their imagination to accommodate new magic but where are writers now, who could have given children of this generation, a taste of magic in being normal? My light reading list at this middle life juncture include travelogues, science interestingly put, history with twists of revelations, books that put art related and economics related theories stand on its head etc. I always keep evolving as a reader finding more and more friends to keep.
Fiction Books on history I find, could whet the appetite of a peeping tom rather than that of a curiosity cat. Read two of the more recent ones — E.P. Unny’s ‘Santa and the scribes- the making of Fort Kochi” and “The Ivory Throne” by Manu.S.Pillai. Not long ago, I had also read Raghu Karnad’s “Farthest Field”. Of the three, the History of Fort Kochi by E. P. Unny seemed to be written by the ubiquitous common man of R.K. Laxman’s cartoon caricatures. Like the place, the words meandered through mysterious silent gully(s) with the ghosts of pasts lurking in colonial houses, much like African slaves buried with the treasure of their master’s house as mentioned in the book—‘kaapiri muthachans’. If that’s not enough, Unny’s voice is laced with dry humour of the kind that makes you laugh out loud. If the air around you were humid with the salt of the colonised natives, as you read the book, you will be transported back to those days when ‘sahebs and memsahebs’ were welcomed as saviours rather than tourists. And they were allowed to rule. Now we make a mess out of our quaint kingdoms and blame history for it being this way. Bless the freedom of expression that allows scribes to write such exotic books with a left-leaning tone boarding the right wingers’ flight of fantasy.
As for R.Karnad and Manu.Pillai, they had good books sold under the guise of great books and thus failed to live up to the expectations of this reader’s dimmed senses. But history isn’t about details for me, it is about the changing perspectives which E. P. Unny captures very well in a refined dry tone.
When one gets older, perhaps the genre one tends to read changes from fiction to fact. Have you ever read a science book and thought of it as mumbo jumbo? Have you ever read a self-help book and felt you knew it all and it simply is a lot of bullshit? Thank you. Spare the authors and please do not read any more of those books because you, Mr and Miss know-it-all, know all that is there is to know except science. And science is the mother of self-help, making all your knowledge a lot of orphaned words of self-inflicting harm for which you may need self-help books. Reading Fritjof Capra and Deepak Chopra is like imagining two aliens having a fight with sabre lights. It is fun.
Reading is a multi-dimensional experience. Writing is the pain that births it into existence. Here is to the contemporary scribes! You make me feel rich- the riches I so eagerly want to reap in by doing what you did. Since providence does imprison me in a profit-keeping mercantile mindset, as survival is such a domineering need for the ordinary citizen; it makes one strive for celebrity status in a hurry.
Sometimes, I sense that books are assuming less importance in our lives. Who has blinded the book lovers? Why is it an attention-deficit world? Here’s cajoling tips for reviving reading interest:
Seeing through eyes of businessmen has its limitations. Seeing through eyes of teachers may put things in perspective. Seeing through eyes of writers brings infinite possibilities.
Everyone pick a book. Drop everything else and read. Let the boredom suffuse itself with stuff other people had to deal with. Solve your problems out of an imaginary quagmire and heighten your sense of self-worth. Be, therefore, better prepared for life.
If you are not reading, you are possibly missing something meant to overhaul your perspective. And unless you let that happen, evolution is stemmed.All for good?
If in gardening, seeds are replaced by stems, flowers are short-lived and fruits have no sense of roots. Resultant garden incurs a high cost of maintenance and more work input. Creativity is the seed. Teaching a mind to grow as a stem from its family tree is asking the world to lose the one thing it requires-evolution. Where a seed can bring revolution, a stem has to fall back on support for mere existence. Create or let someone’s creativity inspire you to grow.
Anyone who supports the revolution, write. Others, read.
And copy-cats steal the material riches of readers’ and writers’ rich imagination simply by picking the flowers and fruits of their produce. Readers and writers may in turn imagine a world without them, just so if the good stories stop coming the world ends up in a dismal setting. Our best friends must be rewarded for keeping it glorious for us. We don’t want bitter people imagining bad things for all of us, do we? Best friends turned enemies make all of us most sad.