Sunday, April 17, 2011

Magic of the written words!

I’m a self-professed Harry Potter fan. If you don’t already know, read here and here.

For me, the excitement of reading a Potter book has not lessened with time. I feel good after reading them. I enjoy the prevalent sub-textual humor, the simple style of writing, easy flow of events. Even now whenever I peruse my copy of one of the seven books I feel how I felt the first time - transported to that enchanted world, with all its charms, Quidditch and even Dementors. The book has become the light read in-between heavy ones; the go-to thing in case I have trouble writing and I’m struggling to get a coherent flow. It’s my ‘safe’ book.

But, the time I was first introduced to Potter was when I was going through a rough patch, the first and worst of my life. I was graduating. That stage of life with pre-defined end dates was coming to an end. What lay ahead was extension of one week into many. Friends were drifting apart. The world outside of school was scary. Professional life looked hellishly dull. I was not sure how I would survive in that ‘real’ world. No where I looked I found solace. Couldn’t blame my friends, as they had their own fears and worries to battle! Couldn’t blame the family, for frankly most of them did not care! And the few who did care, tried their best to comfort. Maybe because I was not ready for accepting help, yet, their words did nothing much to assuage the mixture of feelings, pulsing through me, of guilt, fear, boredom, the ‘where am I?’, the prospect of not seeing some people forever etc... I desperately needed a diversion; a hide-out. A place where I could go for few minutes or hours to forget my trouble and be happy; a place where someone else was directing the proceeding instead of me holding the helm; a place where I had no control, but, in a twisted way have more control than it could be possible in my actual life. The Harry Potter books were a God-send, in that sense. It effectively provided the much sought after get-away. As I had said before, Harry seemed more real to me than some of my friends. It gave me lots of things to think about and tried and helped put few things in perspective. What I failed to realize from the words of my well-wishers, I realized when I was reading the words on those pages. Of loyalty, friendship, the power of our choices, the strength to face the unknown, the fact that life goes on etc. The book spoke to me in a new level that I came to subliminally understand its relevance to me. I came to see my world to be interesting too, even without the presence of Thestrals and Wands and Bertie’s every flavor beans. There’s some magic here too.

Just so you know, I’m not saying that Harry Potter or for that matter Rowling is the one only capable of doing that. Any book worth its cost should be able to do that. But I was given Harry and I took it. Really, what I want to bring out was that I lost myself in the magical world of Harry when the world I was in was not very pleasant. The tapping on the third-brick-on-the-left behind the Leaky Cauldron not only opened up the pathway to Diagon Alley but also housed my refuge; the secret place where I escaped to, to escape the harshness of the realities. I’m not shy to confess that a book intended for ‘Young adult’ audience helped me through my difficult days. Frankly, now when I think back on the last few days of college life, I remember only the good times, for Harry guided me through it, figuratively. I think I have effectively repressed the mess that was the last Sem. One thing though: while writing this, I realise that though there will be poeple to support us in times of need, some experiences in life can only be fully understood if we live through it. And, only if we live through it! I believe college to be one such experience.And for the troublesome weaning from it I had the support of good books. Thankfully so! Anyways enough of psenti.

Seven years later, seven being the most magical of numbers, the story repeats.

Few days back, in February, I was mindlessly surfing the TV when I chanced upon Twilight, the movie. I watched it through and unbelievably, ended up liking it. Funny thing is during my stay in the US whenever I was lounging in the books section in Barnes and Noble, I happened to come across the white hands holding the apple, flashing at me from every direction. More than twice I had picked up the book to read the blurb. It said something about Vampires and ‘Welcome to Forks… Friendly Vampires to watch over you!’ Well, I didn’t care enough about the Vampires of all mythical creatures. The image I had of them was that they were filthy and nasty and foul and they drank blood. So I tried to save myself the hardship and never purchased the book. So you would understand my shock when I ended up liking the movie. I immediately wanted to read the book. Co-incidentally, a colleague had also watched the movie and when we were talking about it, she expressed that the book was much better than the movie and that it was the most romantic of all the books she had read. Piqued with interest and being the sucker for good romance, I searched the net and read the book that night. Twilight, the novel was really neat and I liked it. It was very simple and well written. The story kalam was different and so the situations were interestingly unique.

Soon I started downloading all the other books from the ‘saga’. I enjoyed ‘New Moon’ in few places but was bored of the excessive repetitive. Next, I read ‘Eclipse’. Both had parallels to my life in more ways than I can explain, than what I’m allowed to explain. So anyways, I wasn’t all hooked and such but I wanted to read further to know whatever happened to Bella and Edward. So I read the huge, monstrous Breaking Dawn. It was disturbing and frankly quite a drag. It had all the elements from the lived-happily-ever-after platter being gooey and mushy and cliched. Soon after I chanced upon the in-complete Midnight Sun, and I’m really glad that I did. It was good writing and quite a tricky one to achieve too. It was the next best thing to Twilight and I have to agree with a fan ‘The partial Sun did much to save the Twilight saga’s ass than all the last 3 put together’.

Well, Meyer has written a series of books that have become extremely famous, that has a huge fan-base, people crazily tattoo-ing lines from the story, fan-fiction’s as big as the novels themselves and she now writes ‘allied’ books for charity. From these books I have come to see Meyer to be clearly laging in engaging narrative style; adopting a much-abused and un-inventive plot; spinning out less complex and only mildly interesting situations some involving love, loss, grief and stuff that every other book is seemed to be made of. She is no Rowling and I really shouldn’t compare. What Meyer has given is over-night sensation while the other one has gone and given us an epic in true light.

Adhellam sari! Whatever happened to the ‘seven years later something happened’ story?

Yes. I’m getting to it. The point of all the rambling is, much like in the case of HP, I was attracted to a sensation 6 years after the frenzy began. Shame! Never on time, am I? So then, what’s new? I thought I could never obsess and read over anything the way I read Potter series and I never believed that I could feel close to how I felt in my undergrad end-days. But Twilight happened to be a close competitor, both for the reason and for the help. Why O why, what happened? Because again, after seven years, I found myself lonely, stranded, depressed, confused, and angry at being all that. Again, the stupid questions of “Where am I”s and “Am I doing the right thing”s and “Is it really worth it”s. I needed something to soothe the pain of separation. I needed company. A companion whom I can shamelessly get attached to without fearing stupid social constructs. A decent, respectable, yet no boundaries bared relationship. And Twilight, though more of a chance than choice, helped me. It diverted my mind to see things past the current pain. At least one thing I did right this time was to read the books in proper order.

Some people/things bring good luck, some misfortune. But only few bring peace. And books are one such. So as blaphemous as it may sound, I’m saying, what Harry did few years back, Twilight has done now.

After all that’s the essence of a book. Agreed?

P.S. 1: I have done away with the Brackets. Distracted still? :)

P.S. 2: If I have to add other books to The List, I would add ‘Swiss family Robinson’ and ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ and ‘Little Women’.

P.S. 3: Underneath all these babbles, I think the Twilight attraction is pretty much because of Robert Pattinson. Hotness!

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