Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Joys of Reading

Hello friends. I know it is long time since I have written anything. Tried a few times but could not scribble anything worth sharing. However, yesterday a friend of mine wanted a script for a radio program which talked about the "Joys of Reading". Since it is a widespread misconception that I read a lot, I was asked to give my opinion about the topic. I hummed and ho-ed for some time, as I always do, but eventually gave in to the request. So, here it is. The text that sings paeans of the virtue of being well-read. Amusez-vous bien!!

When I write these words, I fully realize that I must make this comment of mine as much enjoyable as I can using my limited faculties. Otherwise the whole purpose of writing about “Joys of Reading” will get defeated, won’t it? So what is so special about this blasted act of reading for which parents of all castes, creeds and nations have been exhorting their children since times unknown? Aren’t we living in the modern day, in the “21st” of the centuries since one of the greatest of leaders mankind has seen walked on water? I agree. Whole-heartedly. It is a widely accepted fact that the pleasure of reading has been losing its charm since the advent of the modern day sources of entertainment like Television, internet, and game –stations have proved their prowess, beyond doubt, in helping us killing our time. But then that’s the catch. One can only kill time through the electronic entertainment whereas one can savor that time word by word, phrase by phrase, rhyme by rhyme by reading a travelogue of a bunch of indefatigable travelers or a heartrending account of a man’s lost love or a hilarious Wodehouseian farce. All the virtues of the electronic entertainment get negated by their often under-rated and overlooked vice. They don’t give you time to think and hence the phrase “to kill time”. However, a well written piece of prose or poetry can set one’s grey cells to motion adding on to our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. It has been an age-old practice to seek inspiration from the lives of great men. A biography, in a matter of few scores of pages, lays in front of you the entire life of that person. His triumphs and defeats, his struggles and success, the treasure of knowledge he amassed over a lifetime is there for us to loot and all we have to do is to read it!!
However, curiously, the pleasure of reading, a book in particular, begins even before one has read the first line. The typical aroma of the crisp, virgin pages of a brand new book portends the excitement of the journey that will take place through the serpentine alleys of the cities where the sensational characters in the story practice their trade. And if the book is an old one, with a yellowish brown tint to its pages which are withered at the edges, it emanates the light of wisdom and experience of the wrinkled face of my grandma for which she gave her youth and audacity in exchange, to the incessant flow of time. Once you get over this titillation, you enter into the world of exotic lands, of unknown peoples and their cultures which gives you a vicarious pleasure of seeing the worlds through the eyes of the writer. Right in front of your eyes you can see your horizon extending!!
The blessed habit of reading is a friend which has no restriction of time and place. It is the best companion of a man in solitude as it keeps him in good humor and gives meaning to his loneliness. It is a selfless and loyal friend and so devoid of whims that one gets surprised by its ability to turn every passing minute into an enriching and fun-filled experience. To add to it, this reading habit creates an unmistakable aura around a person because his firm, confident opinions are based on solid facts and an all-round understanding of the matter at hand. What else is meant by an “educated person”?
As much as it is a companion in solitude, it has a tremendous ability to make one forget the trivialities of our mundane existence. Even if it is the quotidian act of reading newspaper in the local train, you become oblivious to the swarm of humanity around you, the intrusion of unsolicited human contacts and the not-so-pleasant fragrant mixture of the sweat and scum around. Believe me, Nirvana can be spelt as “R-E-A-D-I-N-G”!!

P.S.: The only reason for not being able to write anything for so long, I think, is that last few months have went past like a blizzard and I have been left dumb-founded by the events. Nothing special. Just finished the first year of my management course and was left with quite a lot to think about. So while I think about it you take care of yourself and enjoy every passing minute with hope in your eyes and a song on your lips. Amen.