“In the previous month, I solved a mind-boggling murder with Agatha, had my soul stirred by Hosseini, flew on magical brooms with Rowling and peeked into the future with Orwell. How have you been?” I asked my now bored looking friend.
“Well, just tuitions and homework, I guess”, a monotonous voice shot back.
George R.R. Martin, the iconic author of the ‘Song of Fire and Ice’ series, once said that a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, while the man who never reads, lives only one. Whenever I enter my classroom with a novel in my hand, my classmates watch me like I’m some sort of an insect.
“Is that in our course?”
“Why are you wasting your time?”
“Have you finished that math exercise?”
And I? I just smile sadly, wishing that the bookworm had bit them too.
I visit empty libraries, only to see dusty books gasping for breath as their tragic end seems near. I agree, we teenagers have a web of responsibilities in which we seem to be entangled, but what we cease to realize, is that books hold a whole new meaning for us. With all the ‘NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME’ phase, it the first time we find someone we relate to, fall in love, or let something brush so nearly with our soul.
I believe that stacking books upon books will truly build the stairway to our imagination. It kindles our curiosity and ignites the mind.
But unfortunately, our priorities seem to have drastically changed now. Reading is now synonymous to an instant sleeping pill or a pastime while waiting for a haircut appointment. When was the last time we bothered to switch off all out blinding gadgets, sit cross-legged on our balcony with a cup of coffee in one hand and a brilliant book in another? These beautifully woven words will eventually cease to exist if nobody reads them. Little blobs of ink splashed across pages. They will be sucked into a black hole of ignorance, without creating the puissant impact they were capable of. It lies on our shoulders to keep this ever glowing art alive.
One exceptional observation made by both Carl Sagan and William Shakespeare was that Time is a terribly treacherous thing. It flows dispassionately, taking along each and everything with it, whether it be stone or man, celestials or beasts.
It is all an ephemeral enchantment.
But the only force overcoming this tyrannous trap is the indomitable power of books. In Shakespeare’s fifty-fifth sonnet, ‘Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments’ he writes about how all shall pass, but his rhyme shall stay on forevermore.
“Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.”
In his widely acclaimed television series, Sagan said that;
“Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Here’s an amazing illustration of Sagan’s words by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils (which is, by the way, my favorite website on the internet).
These great men soaked in the indispensability of what lies between the covers. A whole new world, much more interesting, venturesome and beautiful than the one we live in.
There is an undiscovered mine of great books out there, and one of my greatest fears was voiced by my brother when he said,
“Out of the million masterpieces out there, doesn’t it make you sad that you will never be able to read all of them?”
So read, my friend. If you say you do, then do it even more.
Read for the joy. Read for the sorrow. Read for a good today and an even better tomorrow.