Books and Intruders


“What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Over the Teacups

I had just reached the part where the underground network of pipes falls down as a result of Lockhart’s spell. I had always been a horror freak. And as Harry walked on, towards the yet un-encountered Basilisk, I was scared. It was the middle of the night, and the rustling wind was made almost visible by shaking trees and lost leaves. And at that moment I knew that I would have to unwillingly avail the services of a  bookmark till the first rays of the sun broke through my window. From the second I unwantingly kept the book down till the next morning when I hungrily picked it up again, I was still stuck in that cold underground place.

Now contrast this to the time when John Galt takes over the radio, and the title Atlas Shrugged magically makes sense. When in a single paragraph I heard, perhaps the most moving declaration of love, and like Dagne, I kept listening, hypnotised; and my father suddenly came barging into my room insisting that I eat lunch-it was like a meteorite crashing, only with no warning, just the bare impact, destroying that portal. For someone who has a passion for books, they would know exactly what its like to be interrupted while reading.

When you’re reading a book, a story or a poem, you’re not only in another world, but in fact this plane that all of us live on, ceases to exist for you, and so do all physical laws and the fundamental truths of it. Imagine, you’re in this parallel world, flying on a dragon, dazed in a drug induced mental transcendence, running away from a certain someone, reliving Alexander’s insatiable thirst for glory, fighting along side Rani Laxmi Bai,  living in hiding with Anne Frank, feeling the injustice doled out to Anna Karenina, dancing with Shams of Tabriz, when suddenly, unceremoniously, a stranger, an Intruder pulls you here. And why do I say stranger? Because in this moment anyone and everyone who pulls you out, did not and does not exist in your book. It takes a moment for your heart to calm down and and your brain to register where you are. And your next impulse is to practically strangle this stranger, who now, in all probability, turns out to be someone you know very well. Its something like Jake being hauled out of his avatar. Or like extracting Alice out of Wonderland way too soon. They definitely got it right when they said ‘most crimes are committed by people we know’!!!

The beauty of life lies in the fact that it goes on; on and on, at times roller coasting,  almost always keeping us on our toes. And if you’re not living on the edge, you’re tragically missing out on a lot. This continuous flow, this progression of memories and experiences can only be felt in movement. And it is not in the least different when we’re reading. You would recall that reading a book in parts and parcels does make it last longer, but the exhilaration decreases with every interruption, willing or unwilling. Try and remember that time when you were a kid, or just a week back, when you just sat down, door closed, hidden in a library, your room, or another of your haunts, and just lapped up the book in one go- all thought of food, drink and sleep forgotten. That incomparable mix of euphoria chaperoned with some sadness, will always stay imprinted in your mind.

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”
― Cornelia FunkeInkspell

Now take another scenario. You’re reading a book for the second or the umpteenth time, and you are joyfully surprised at not only discovering something new, but your old self. BAM! An unforeseen Intruder interrupts that rendezvous of you and a younger you, and spoils that moment. The same way we can’t yet turn a clock back even for a second, that moment will possibly never come back; howsoever hard you try to get it back.

It is time that I appealed, to every single person who reads, and more so to those who don’t. Intruder-Stop. The next time you get an urge to interrupt someone who’s reading, just take a moment and think. Is it necessary to tear them away? Can you do without them? Can whatever it is, wait? And if you know it’s a book they have been waiting for a long time, is it Life or Death?

How about leaving a note next time?

“Still round the corner there may wait
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Not in any moment lonely, a book is a  long awaited journey that has to be undertaken alone. Let her, or him, complete that journey, and you will be appreciated with a warm heart for not hindering this adventure.

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