Read The Fine Print

I was sitting by the window looking at the bright sun as I felt the warmth from the heater in my room. By now I know better than to expect anything from the winter sun that often teases  me from the other side of the window. I was in the middle of what had been a perfect day until now. I had been up at the crack of dawn (which is anytime before 9 AM in my world), had cooked a veggie-filled breakfast, had wrapped up my daily chores and was ensconced in my favorite chair. But the day was now beginning to turn a little weird. An antsy feeling was creeping up on me, threatening to ruin my afternoon tea. Since my tea time was one of the small pleasures I looked forward to, I tried to shrug off the uninvited feeling with every shred of strength I could find. But it clung to me like leech and thus tea wasn’t a pleasure that day. As if it wasn’t enough that I had to carry the cumbersome feeling through the day, I also had to bear the burden of not knowing why.

At last, I hit the bed. But instead of quietly drifting off to sleep, I awoke with a jerk suddenly realizing that it had been four days since I had read a book. And THAT was what had been nagging me. The next morning I hungrily lapped up quite a few pages of the book I carried in my bag but had not touched in a while. Reading, I realized, is not a habit to be trifled with. Thriving on leftover time at the end of my day, this habit has stealthily gained stature enough to disrupt my day at its whims and fancies. What more, it has birthed an endless bucket list of books to be read and an interest in soaking in every bit of nonsense as long as it’s  well-written. This is what lies on the other side of enjoying a companion as erudite as a book. This is the “fine print” they don’t tell you about when they say a room without books is like a body without soul.


A Change Less Welcome

I have spent a lot of my waking hours as a child reading, among many books, comics. Intimidated by literature for some unknown reason, I found comics warm and welcoming (and, strangely, down-to-earth). Having already raved about my love for Amar Chitra Katha, I often fondly reminisce about my time with Archie Comics. Lost in reverie, as I searched online for Archie Comics one day, I let out a feeble gasp at what I saw. Archie Comics was recently subjected to a makeover and a major one at that! Although I have completely stopped reading Archie since decades now, I couldn’t help but frown at this new development. I do understand change being the the only constant in life and a lot of similar nonsense (which probably has more truth in it than the words of the wisest prophet), but our good old Archie is no moon of the solar system that is subject to periods of change!

A Treat To Die For!

Over the years, the comical face of the characters and the silly story lines have earned a place in our hearts. Betty and Veronica Double Digests have silenced many a wailing kid (me!). I don’t remember the books reeking of “depth” and “philosophy” that adolescents so “ardently seek”. Wasn’t it was the funny rendering of enjoyable characters that drew a huge fanfare? And now they look all grown up and less silly. What’s left in Riverdale to turn to then? But since I am no longer the “target audience” (marketing jargon, really), maybe my lamentations about this change will fall on deaf ears. Let me, in that case, find solace in the fact that the “vintage” version of the comics to which I am so attached safely resides in some corner of the World Wide Web.

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A Time for Everything

I have learned to revere time. Of course, it still is not that kind of reverence that compels me to shorten my hour-long tea time. Nevertheless, time has earned a level of respect in my heart. It is with time that I have become more patient (“what patience?”, asks hubby). It was time that rescued me from the clutches of meaningless thrillers towards the elixir of literature (which requires patience to enjoy, I tell hubby with a serene nod and he wisely leaves the matter at that). I have learned to depend on it to comprehend seemingly incomprehensible “mysteries” like how to become more organized (time tells me, “in your case, it’s never happening, give it up!” I do and I’m a happy, unorganized person now) or what the heck is the big deal about Harry Potter books. Yes, you got it right. It wasn’t always that I liked Harry Potter books.

There was a time when it felt like the world was engulfed in the magic of Harry Potter and I was not a part of it. I had had a rendezvous with one of the books once, but it was brief and I had put it away to pick a Jane Austen. I had resigned myself as a non-fan, probably the only one in a Harry Potter-crazy universe. Years passed. I was happily going to dinner with Gone with the Wind, then on a tea date with To Kill a Mockingbird and dreaming about Great Expectations. Harry Potter was completely off my mind.

untitledI discovered a beautiful library near my place and became a regular there. The shelves carried Harry Potter books but I ignored them, not knowing that they were watching me with keen eyes. Their gaze probably had a mesmerizing effect on me because I don’t even remember when, how, and why I stretched my hand and picked up one of them to merely skimp through. Only this time, I was smitten. I couldn’t put it down. A few pages of Harry Potter became my daily treat. Now I saw what was it that was so magical about Harry Potter. Time had successfully converted this non-fan into a fan. With this miracle in place, I believe in the power of time even more. That is exactly why I am unconcerned that I don’t feel like reading critically acclaimed philosophical literature today. All I know is that there is another miracle in the offing.

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Forever Mine

92f6284f2532026ba3595c1427e0f350I still remember those late afternoons of my summer holidays, when I lay plonked on my favourite arm chair that I “strategically” placed right under the fan for hours of comfort. More often than not, I held a copy of Amar Chitra Katha. That too, that special one with the many-handed Goddess Durga in her “Mahisasurmardini” avatar on the cover. When I opened the book, I stepped into the fantastic world of gods and goddesses, of demigods and demons, of sages and apsaras. One ended and another one was opened. Durga was followed by Shiva, Shiva by Tapati, Tapati by Agatsya, Agatsya by Drona and Drona by Vasantsena. A battle here, a battle there, a demon killed, a princess kidnapped, an apsara cursed, a sage angered – pages after pages of enthralling adventures from the lap of mythology. Powerlessly succumbing to the irresistible beckoning from within these pages, I dreamily read them over and over again through the years.

naradEach passing moment of those afternoons made way for an everlasting memory sealed with magic to remain fresh forever. What else would I call it but magic when even the Amar Chitra Kathas I had not read have become part of my memories? How I longed to dive into the mysterious world that lay on the other side of the cover pages of Ganga and Shiv Parvati and how it remained elusive (courtesy, the perennially limited collection at the lazy book shops in my area)! How I regretted losing the one with the comical Narad on the cover page after reading it only once (having read it once actually did more harm than good, leaving me pining for more of it)! Today, finding these gems online has been a blessing no less than one by Shiva himself. All I have to do is pull out those lazy afternoons and that arm chair from my memory casket and I’m all set for a journey in time.