Sunday, February 17, 2013

A tribute to me beloved Father for having instilled an insatiable love of the written word

A tribute to my Father : My love for BOOKS

It has been nearly a year since my father passed away and today concludes the official mourning period according to the Hindu calender and rites. He may physically be absent , but his "fatherhood" is forever indelibly etched in my mind. Over the months, I have come to realize how much of me has been defined by what my father was : in each little intention and act. His subtle lingering presence beside me has been my source of solace, rejuvenation and optimism in times that have gone by; and will continue to be so: listening to his gentle, non intrusive inner voice every step of my way . I cannot hope,pray or wish for a superior benediction than that.

My love for books was nurtured by him. Not that my father was a voracious reader or a man of literary taste. He liked his pulp fiction and devoured them whenever time permitted. James hardley chase, Joanne Collins and the likes of Lawrence sanders were his staple reading diet . However the way he happened to introduce me to the world of books is rather curious and quite inexplicable. I remember the day pretty distinctly in the early eighties (I was around ten years of age). My parents and me had gone to a local book fair in the southern city of Madurai to buy some comic books for myself. The collection of books wasn't really what one would call "young literature". The titles and names of the books seemed meaningless to me. I was mentally cursing my father for bringing me here , when we passed by an alley where the publications of The Ramakrishna Math were on display. Almost casually my father picked up " The life of Vivekananda and the Universal gospel" by the renowned french savant and Author Romain Rolland, and handed it over to me with an off hand comment that it should be a good book to read and additionally improve my English. Little did I know that this innocuous looking book of two hundred odd pages (a translation from French) would give me a glimpse of that primordial power and feeling that only words can evoke; and catalyze in me a unquenchable thirst for books.

For those of us who have had the opportunity to read this free handed translation by Dr. Malcolm smith, would undoubtedly agree with me that the mesmerizing language, unbridled passion and the tumultuous flow of thoughts flowing from his pen would lead one imperceptibly to higher realms of sensitivity; like Handel's symphony- to a crescendo that would break upon us like a tidal wave , drenching us with with untold joy and surrealism. In any case, This was most definitely not a book for a ten year old boy coming to grips with Amar chitra kathas at that age. I vividly remember attempting to read the first few pages of this book innumerable times, trying to understand the flow of the narrative: Each time I would put the book down with a sense of desolation. I could feel the pulsating emotion in the writing, but couldn't decipher its meaning . Each time I read a few paragraphs, I would feel a weird thrill pass through me of a unknown joy pregnant in those written words, but wouldn't be able to pin down the source of that happiness. Pushed to the limits, I tried memorizing sentences and regurgitating them to relive to those high octave moments. It didn't work. The fact of the matter is that I could never finish reading the book : but , It triggered in me a mysterious love for words and a secret yearning to be able to write with that intensity. My father would have hardly realized or even less suspected that his simple act of introducing Vivekananda to a lazy kid like me, would have resulted in so much internal yearning.

The year 2008 - I read the book again (a decrepit , rusty copy languishing in my book rack).In the twenty intervening years , I had grown and been exposed to all kinds of ideas and its multifarious expressions. The book by Romain Rolland now revealed itself in its naked pristine beauty. Its words and phrases were no more conundrums to me, they unfolded themselves like the fragrant petals of rose to my discerning eyes and intellect.

I closed the book with a great sense of gratitude to life for elevating me to a pedestal from where I could the survey the world through the tentacles of words. Thanks to you papa - who thought it fit to give to his son a book way beyond his years so that he may one day relish the beauty of words in whatever form it comes. I may not have blossomed to the level of being a master of the language; but your push has helped to taste the font of knowledge and the innate beauty of the written word...

God bless..................
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1 comment:

Liz B said...

This is beautifully written, and very poignant. It is wonderful to think that your father left you such a rich gift that will carry you through your life and beyond.