Sometimes I wonder how easy it has become for me to fall in love with the world outside after being inspired by the books that I read. Little have I ever realized that in this process, I’ve deeply fallen in love with the books themselves. Thus, I write not about the love stories ‘in’ the books that I’ve read, but ‘with’ them. (But again, I wonder if such love will be accepted – for the world is fucked up, with men travelling in first class and literature as freight.)
I have never felt more satisfied than in this self-created world that I live in amidst my books. I adore the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I quote him as I say that there is always something left to love. Any book-lover would identify with this line simply because even after reading book after book, there is always a longing for more.
According to me, there is no book that explores the feeling of longing or loss as much as Siddharth Dhanwant Shanghvi’s The Last Song of Dusk. His characters are as bold as his writing. He writes about them displaying a strong feline lust as effortlessly as he brings a dilapidated mansion to life. Shanghvi proves that the feeling of utter solitude can be both, inflicting and redeeming. He writes about relationships in a way that I have seldom read anywhere else.
Writers like Arundhati Roy also write about relationships and especially about families in a way so explicit that their books have become essential to understanding contemporary fiction. In The God of Small Things, when the twin protagonists’ mother is incinerated, they suddenly realize how helpless they’ve become because she was their Ammu, their Baba and she had loved them Double. Again, being an Arundhati Roy comes only with a streak of rebellion that can kick the rules of English grammar in the ass and use capital letters scattered all around the book like scampering ants.
Apart from enjoying such experimentation that writers do, I choose this reclusive world for myself because it introduces me to a side of myself that I was previously unfamiliar with. For instance, when I read Marquez, I am urged to break my rigid frame of thought and believe that first love can even be consummated on flying carpets. (But again, little did anyone know that around 40 years after his Nobel Prize winner would we be introduced to a ‘saga’ that we now know as Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.)
The books I love take me to places that I have never been before. Sometimes, these places have names and sometimes, they don’t. Nonetheless, this reminds me of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake where she writes that the purpose of books is to travel without moving an inch.
This dream-like state to where I am taken to each time I think of something I’ve loved reading makes me realize why I love books so much. However, if you’re happy in a dream, does that count? Well I don’t know – but it sure is a good feeling in this world where nothing matters much and nothing much matters.