Saturday, October 26, 2013

The solitary reader

It is a little late in the night. I am in a city where night sable Goddess no longer reigns from her Ebon throne in rayless majesty[1] and has been robbed of all her ancient insignia - the drone of the cicada, the flickering of the stars, the uncomfortable silence of the looming trees and above all the thrilling palpitation of walking into the unknown that she so gracefully doles out in the country. The only solace as I ride on oblivious to the charms of this impostor night that tenants this city is the reassuring thump of my Bullet. Serene she glides along bearing me like a raindrop afloat a cloud.

At the back of my head is the question of food. An activity, that in my opinion has long been an unpleasant act of sustenance. Would I but sustain life by drinking in the sunlight as the birds do! Would I but sustain life by gathering dewdrops on a summer dawn! Would I but sustain life by suckling rain clouds! But such blessing is not mine in this birth. Therefore, I must eat, because hunger reigns over my body as much as madness does over my soul.

So, the thump stops. And I enter a brightly lit restaurant. Another mockery of night's fallen leaden sceptre. A choice is made, commerce transacted and a seat chosen. People all around me, in throngs like moths drawn to light. The idle chatter of the mundane drowns out the throbbing silent of the unpleasant. Once in a while a gruff voice or an irritating cackle exposes the filth underneath. But all in all, like our own precious homes, the world is a place with clean exteriors and rotting interiors.

I sit down and start to read. Nay! I sit down and fly away. Sometimes it is on the thin crumpled wings of musty yellow paper. Sometimes it is on the downy luxurious wings of fresh paperback. Sometimes it is on the twinkling translucent wing of my tablet or mobile phone. But it is always a flight.

A flight into the nebulous world of Fionn and the wisest of poets Finnegas where you sit by a river waiting for a poem; or into the torrid dreams of Ruskin Bond where he writhes around with his sensuous Indian princess; or into the tenuous maze of Basho's Haiku, tender strands of gossamer poetry that a spider might weave; or into the fervid garden of Dorian Gray's painter friend where laburnums burn on tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs[2]; or into the world of Vedic myth where Gods and Demons confound good and bad in subtle nets of hypocritical stratagems; or into the alluring rain soaked rivers of Tagore where sorrow matures into silence and life fruits to death. Away you fly, flit and escape the monotonous vagaries of life.

For a book, a tale, a poem is a cocoon that protects you from the infectious stream of commonplace thought that permeates the very atmosphere we live in. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a knight in shining armour battling forces of evil ennui. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a Zen monk, resting your trembling mind on a lotus leaf. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a Bullet rider who glides where others flit and swerve.

Alone in a crowd, with a book,you are a solitary reap(d)er, reaping silvery herbs of immortality beneath a blooming full moon while the rest of the world suffers in the glare of neon lights. 

[1] - Night thoughts, Edward Young
[2] - Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Image courtesy: Deviant art