My story by Kamala Das has a statement, “ask the books that I read why change. Ask the authors dead and alive who communicated with me and gave me the courage to be myself.”
… Did they?
I do not know, I was brought up by parents and grandparents who were voracious readers, membership to the local library meant that we had entered the adult world. Of course it did not matter that I was seven and my brother was 5, Monday’s were like high light days since we walked down to the library and picked up a book to bring home, you see Tuesday the library was closed so we could not walk down to read the book there.
Maybe the staple diet of Enid Blyton, AmaraChitraKatha and Mandrake did influence me with my opinion of gender issues, (by the way in retrospect Enid Blyton was racist and very gender biased.) Amarachitrakatha induced a strong interest in history and mythology and together they have created a inquiry-monster in me anyway what inspired authors to write what they did I know not, but I firmly believe in the Buddhist Philosopher Nagarjuna who says,”the books impart only enough knowledge that you can assimilate, also the same book tells you different things each time you read it.”
I remember my grandmother telling me that each library should contain this quote from Mark Twain on its entrance.” Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted: persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”—BY THE ORDER OF THE AUTHOR per G.G.CHIEF OF ORDNANCE.
Books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you have finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it belongs to you: the good, the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, the sorrow, one gets connected to the characters, and experiences the weather. So this experience would definitely change a perception, I would learn from a voyeur experience but what I learn and how it will act out in my space is my own.
Writers are actually of two types, one like architects and other like gardeners, the architect plans everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house, they know how many rooms are going to be in the house, the kind of roof/ they’re going to have, where the wires go what kind of plumbing is going to be in the house what kind of roof is it going to have where would the wires run, what kind of plumbing, I mean the entire blueprint is on. These are the kinds who have their NaNoWrMn all panned out, and come November 30th their first draft is out.
Then there are the other kind, who start on first November, dig a hole, drop in the seed and water it. They have an idea what the seed they have sown they have a vague idea that it could be mystery or a fantasy or whatever, but as the plant comes up and they water it, they do not know how branches it is going to have they find out as it grows.
As reader both are great to read, of course the Gardner is kind of more intriguing because we are not sure where he will detour. One thing I kind of noticed is that a book is always better if the author has been the story as a letter to himself, to tell him things that he would be unable to discover otherwise. What really knocks me out as a reader is a book that when I am done reading, I wish the author that wrote it is a terrific friend of mine, and I could call her up on the phone whenever I felt like it that has just begun to happen.
Calling up Anand Neelakantan and telling him I am amazed with his thought process, or telling Krishna Udayshankar that I am waiting for her novel on Shikandhi is really great. Both these authors gave their readers lot to mull over.
As for “Ask the books that I read why I changed. Ask the authors dead and alive who communicated with me and gave me the courage to be myself.” – From My Story by Kamala Das.
Well, not really we don’t really change, we are what we are but of course authors let us accept the choices we make to express our authentic self, it is like,
“Buddy if this is your archetype, this is the price, are you willing to pay it.”
The need to fit in, to be part of the crowd, makes us wear a mask and change not the books we read, but most of us do understand how dangerous masks can be, we all become what we pretend to be.
There are some of us who realize that rules are made to be broken, we are bold enough to live life on our terms and never apologize for it…believe me, I tried to conform and adapt, I even tried apologizing it made me a homicidal maniac”.. So we go against the grain, refuse to conform and travel the less travelled path instead of the well-beaten one. Yes some of us do have the ability to laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before we look. We march to the beat of our own drummer immaterial of who is watching us and stubborn refuse to fit in.
The price we pay is bouts of adulation and bouts of loneliness, somewhere we learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is… an opportunity to get know US.. To learn how strong we really are, to depend on one but MYSELF for my happiness… I realize that a little loneliness goes a long way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colourful me.
So you’re a little weird? Work it! A little different? OWN it! Better to be a nerd than one of the herd.