While the first words are taught to us are by our parents, they are the ones who guide our clumsy fingers to write our first alphabets and they are the ones who help us string a sentence, which we often fail to complete. Some of us are fortunate to be handed that first book to read by our parents, some others aren’t so, for some people believe the land of stories is a distraction from the real world,from their religious scriptures and that it introduces us to a world that we shouldn’t be a part of ( but isn’t that the beauty of books? How they transport us to another world, how they are our peeping holes into another life- far different than ours, all from the very comfort of a favorite reading spot!?) and some other strange ideas that seem outrageous and outlandish to me.
Coming from a similar background, my only solace was my English text books, that I devoured in the Summer holidays, right after receiving them, before the start of that academic year, and later it was the one hour of “Library” where we were given a random book every time and we fed on it just the same. With a peek into books by mostly Enid Blyton, I read little snippets of a lot of different books by her. Come middle school, the nerdy bunch were awarded books for being, WELL, nerdy and the aspiring trophy kid that I was, always managed to score substantial marks to get a book or two every year. Oh! Such a delight it was! MY OWN BOOKS, that too with a certificate lauding my academic skills adorning the first page of it, happiness was truly woven in these pages.
“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.”
― ENID BLYTON
This is how I got my first Enid Blytons, I MEAN MY OWN ENID BLYTONS! And some others, among which Black Beauty by Anna Sewell stands out Having read this book in my early teens, unlike most people who have a childhood they adore, due to unmentionable reasons it’s a part of my life I fail to cherish. As most kids are, I too was a little lost, holding on to many little secrets which seemed to weigh down my little shoulders and I was overcome by a need to be the perfect kid- the perfect older sibling, the perfect daughter, for seeking perfection is apparently an ideal way to conceal one’s flaws.
Here was this book- talking to me about horses!, giving me all the details right from the horse’s mouth. I was intrigued, so is everyone else suffering too!? Just like I am ( oh yes, aren’t little silly things the greatest of the problems to our innocent hopeful minds?) it showed to me how these gentle creatures were sometimes treated lavishly, and sometimes brutally just as it suits man.
“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”
Here I am with all my senses intact, failing to put into words the confused state of my mind, and here is a book that is written in the voice of these voiceless beings. This book was, and is a constant reminder of how man and animal is suffering at the hands of anyone who has enough power over them, for often when man is bestowed with power he feels it his duty to make the lives of the “lesser beings” miserable as a display of his strength.
Fast forward to quarter life, and seems like we don’t change much. We are still a little dazed,a little too lost trying to get accustomed to life and all its bitter sweet offerings. I stepped into the big bad world, with all the apparent essentials ( you know stuff like confidence, good dressing, sound education, good manners etc etc) only to realize that we are running the very same race, the race to be better than someone, only the competitors are more fierce and the spectators?! They are a bunch of blood sucking demons! With a deflated unenthusiastic mind, I ran the race – seeking the best of everything, because why not!? I need the best, because I AM THE BEST( yes we are still seeking perfection, now in the things around us!)
“And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”
On a self imposed book ban I couldn’t resist walking into a bookstore when I passed one ( who walks by without popping in for a bit!?, just unaware of such instances!) I went through the “religion” aisle, a category I never, NEVER browse. Here I found “ The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran and little did I know that this impulsive purchase was going to change my life for good.
Going through the beautiful approach to life, and answering all these questions that constantly haunt us, I kept wondering why this book hasn’t been a part of our lives in a more significant way. The simplistic yet, powerful approach, an unconnected yet passionate thought process had me raving about this book to anyone who cared to listen!
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”\
- Kahlil Gibran
Here I am still a little confused, still a little dumbfounded by the enormity of the world around me, but maybe in a more cheerful sense, for I have realized that I am a mere speck in the universe, a mere drop in the ocean and an ocean in a drop!
So, the next time someone comments on my crazy obsession for words, for “wasting” my resources on stories woven in some crazy person’s head, I smile at them like the crazy book person they think I am and transport myself to one of the hundreds of lives I’ve read about, while they trudge on in their miserable life, living it off on criticizing others.
“You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth.
You are also as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of the ocean
by the frailty of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.”