I recently downloaded a new kindle e-book, and as has become pretty common these days, based on a review on New York Literary Review, which I have subscribed on Kindle. It is a book called "On Rereading" by Patricia Meyer Spacks, an author, hitherto unknownst to me, mostly on account of my own ignorance than the author's capability. While I find the book extremely interesting from what I have read so far as the author delve on an analysis of the books we read during the course of growing up and how our own interpretation of the book changes with the stage of life we are in.
While the love ballads of Shakespeare might bring about a sense of aspirational objective for a young man to chase, the same read with one in the middle of a severe mid-life crises, beautiful as it may, will sound as an improbable dream, and a life missed out in compromises. The aspirational figure of Ayn Rand's Howard Roark, gives way to a world plagued with hard realism hammered on to a tender heart.
Anyways, the point here is not to review the book or to take an attempt to discover and interpret rereading on my own, given the fact the a significant portion of the exemplary book lies unread with me. The matter which I noticed as to the key driver for my downloading the kindle, apart from the desperation from a world which seems to be getting lonelier and devoid of beauty by the day, the divine loveliness of my daughter notwithstanding, was the beauty of words, which stood out like bright stars on a neat sky on a summer day suddenly blessed with rare and modestly cold winds. At the same time, I am accompanied on my commute by Letters of Mirza Ghalib, by Gulzaar.
Irrespective of the fact that one is in Hindi, I am triangulated on three sides by the two forces and the third one, being the second book (pretty impatient in my read, I usually begin multiple books at a time) in English by Somerset Maugham- The Summing Up. All of these books are not much about what they explain, rather how they explain. In today's SMS ridden world with 140 character being the character of writing, it seems almost divine to be able to be in such a wonderful company, and it is the beauty and honesty of these words which makes them so very wonderful, even when Ghalib is explaining how many mangoes he received one summer, or how his house was flooded in brutal assault of rain one time. I look at my daughter and I do think, will she grow up with modern day cultural nuances where feelings are expressed in acronyms, or at best in short twitter-worthy sentences, totally oblivious of the wonderland that people of earlier generation to hers knew. I hope not and I can not wait to see her grow up enough to be exposed to the world of Ghalib, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda and other such great. I hope I can generate enough interest in her, so that given a choice, by the time she can know a choice from peer pressure, she can chose to be kinder, playful and articulate with the words. It is only words, with which man evolves beyond animals, through words, we connect and live together and understand our own thoughts, (and may be think as well, we all do think in some language, can we dream without words?). Words are the sole indicator of civility and we are loosing them so fast, there is still a heart warming charm in going to remote part of the Northern belt of UP and Bihar and sit at a tea stall and hear people talk about local and national politics in chaste Hindi. This love of language is what also is pretty eminent in Central part of India, but it is fast loosing breath in the Tsunami of technology which threatens to engulf us. How lovely can your conversation be when you talk to one thousand people on Facebook? The love has to flow from your hear to your mind to your pen, which will surely take time, you will need to get people to establish themselves beyond a number, put a face to them, add a heart to them. Once you are committed to that, you will feel them better and talk to them better. Every conversation that you have with them, written or otherwise will become a labour of love and will require a revert with same affection and effort.
I am amazed what kind of world we are coming to where good language is rarely appreciated, but is usually deprecated and deplored? The world will be so unbearable should it go in that negative spiral, not because we loose out on words, and all they stand for, but rather, that they become symptomatic to a life which is dying deep underneath.