I do only two things in life: read and write. I’m a slow, selective reader and a slow, lazy “writer”, who suffers from a chronic writers bloc. But life is long, so who’s in a hurry anyway! This is what I tell myself to silence the angry me within me when I’m stuck reading the same book for 20 years and don’t manage to write more than “What do I write today” for over 20 years (I just popped an anti-exaggeration pill into my mouth but it usually takes about 48 hours for the effect to tick in. So, please bear with me). Again, given the length of life in general, the time I take to finish reading a book should not and would not have mattered but for a tiny problem. I TALK about what I read. So, let me correct the first sentence of this paragraph – I do only three things in life: read, write and talk.
Let me explain to you how that’s a predicament. Love in the Time of Cholera is a book I have been reading forever now. The problem here is every other sentence I read leaves me spellbound. I sincerely wish it left me speechless instead. But no, under the effect of the “spell”, my tongue gets out of control and I start talking, irrespective of whom I’m talking about it to. Family, friends, neighbours, strangers, the milkman, colleagues, shopkeepers – everyone is aware of how A fell in love with B in the time of Cholera, even though they couldn’t care less. As I’m surrounded by wonderfully patient people, it didn’t matter for the first month. Life was as usual then: me reading about love sometimes, Cholera at other times and talking about both at all times. Gradually, things started changing. All the wonderfully patient people in my life realised that my monologue about love and the blasted Cholera was becoming a perennial nuisance. Neither would the book end nor my rant about it. They felt taken advantage of and took some measures to deal with it.
The other day, when I called out to my maid, she appeared with cotton stuffed in one ear feigning an infection. My otherwise-friendly neighbour sensed that I was about to get on to my favourite topic and immediately cut the conversation short to run as if she saw Cholera itself approaching! The kid in my neighbourhood looked like he was about to cry as soon as he saw me (Yes, children too were not spared). I mentioned “the book I’m reading” and my friends started talking about “that girl they felt like bashing”. Grumpily, I decided to take the book away someplace and read in seclusion. What I forgot was that there is a virtual world too! Click, click and boiinggg…I started sending pictures of my favourite sentences from the book. The poor dead author would never have imagined that the poetry of his soul would someday, in some other part of the world, become an e-nuisance. But who has ever been able to predict the course of life.
Unable to stop me, people ultimately changed their tactics and it worked this time. One day, my reading speed appeared to have increased drastically. I read about 10 whole pages in a day (unthinkable otherwise) and this continued for more than a week. In fact, the wonder of wonders is that the end of the book is now in sight! The heart-felt prayers of my social circle have a big role to play in the manifestation of miracles of this stature. Soon and very soon, I will finish the book and the world will know it, as that day people will hear a collective sigh of relief from all my family, friends and acquaintances (but only until I’m left spellbound by another piece of art!).