On one fine day between Things Fall Apart and The Selfish Gene as I was cleaning my cabinet, I stumbled upon a post nestling in my mind. It flashed like a revelation like a light beam from a distant tower, silent but dramatic. And before I could know more it vanished at the sight of my cognizance but not without leaving visual footprints. The traces looked vague but felt familiar. They had the lifespan of a blink but indelibility of a lifetime. Holding grains of these slippery sandy flashes, I kept staring at the wardrobe. Frozen in a moment, it seemed as if the empty corner of the cabinet was inviting me to step in and feel the geometry of space. Just like the olden days! The olden golden days upon blending with the fresh paint in the air pulled over the wet, fragrant walls from my childhood. And my childhood came knocking at the knock of flaky patchy walls, taking me to a room where I read The Count of Monte Cristo. The dichotomous fit had cut me into two. I was elapsing between two worlds. The world around me was rigid, built up with wood, concrete, dust, and orthodox clothing designed to mute my voice down by rendering me divine like stony goddesses. The world inside me was permeable, woven out of blurry phrases and porous emotions. And there I was! A young adult by now, about to imprint the golden words over my heart for life “Happiness blinds, I think more than pride.” Around green walls and few birds cooing outside the room that had a big window, I fell in love with reading. I still am. In Love! But my love is young. Passionate and eager, it sometimes misses The God of Small Things in a rush to arrive.
I hold the two worlds together by reading under the young Banyan tree in a courtyard tabooed with scriptures, compensating for the veil over my head with the book in my hands.
“..the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.”
Okonkwo died for this veil. Before things fell apart, his Gods and yams had a meaning. His customs gave him a piece of earth to build his eternity. Like the veil I am carrying, he carried Africa in his being. But I am not Okonkwo. I am Educated. Like her, I know the heartache up close and personal. I can see through the dysfunctional families being normal in their own ways. I know someone who belonged to a home that did not long for him. I read them both. I closed one feeling full in my heart. While the other is still open in my mind. Maybe some books do not end at the ending. They need more of you. I ought to give more. I have to learn the art of transcendence. I have to travel from Tara towards Okonkwo. But their worlds are deserts apart. Can salt from one taste of sand from another. Can I peel off Tara and find something resembling to Okonkwo through a grain that is a universal human condition. What if I found him? Can Tara and Okonkwo live together? Maybe in the same heart if not in the same Mindset.
Maybe reading is about opening hearts more than the mind.
I didn’t know the twins either. Or Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir. But I have become to understand Rahel & Estha in time. Maybe books are about becoming. But becoming of whom? I understand Harry’s world but not Buendia’s. They are both magical. One is more real than the other even though it felt weirder. Maybe I have to crossover from the character to become the creator. And from intensity towards joy.
Maybe reading is about becoming a mad writer.
Those indelible flashes were now beginning to fade. The cabinet had been decorated with clothes and books that I brought up with me. Consciousness sprouting from the books from the past was inspiring literature in the present. It wrote a short story of a moment and for the moments I remember cherishing while reading. I shut off the cabinet and moved towards the courtyard to open more books and to close the ones that are still open in my mind.
Maybe reading is like the immortal Banyan tree around mortal perceptions, values, and hopefully the Virus outside.