Pratheeksha" is nt that such a beautiful word! And "Swapnangal" too.
And what is in life if you do not have a concoction of "Hope and Dreams"???
The elixir that keeps many a mortal like me moving on!!!!!!!!
And the ubiquitous astrologers and numerologists who predate around decreed to my wife that "Pratheeksha" is an ominous, intemperate name that shall not be for my little Dream I built on a good patch of land .Typically Mallu!!!
And my identity as a malayalee I want to confine to the only extent of my birth into a malayalee family.
And who shall decree that I must not have hope and dreams now that I have wife of 20 years and two dear children?? And umpteen problems of the daily chores.
Every soul must have hope and as Maman ( Balan) notes in all his emails-“ 'Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much”.
It is but strange, providentilally that we run across books that suits our mood, time and psyche.
I remember devouring with ravenous appetite the two hard cover volumes of Alexander Dumas’s , “Count of Monte Cristo”,after rummaging through the library of the Mahatma Gandhi College ,Thiruvananthapuram (1976).It was the teen mood of romance and heroism that intoxicated then. And wished with added vigor after also not missing all the Hindi versions of romance and heroism shown on the screens at Sreekumar Theater that one could identify with the count of Monte Cristo himself. But alas Madame oille “Mercedes’ was elusive those days.
It was equally feverous, I remember taking our turns to get hold of the copy of “Venus in India” that was in circulation in the pre-degree section of the commerce dept of the college. The sexually explicit pages in print was blending with our mood to decode the elusive feminine anatomy/physique .But those were the years in my part of the country when such “privilege” was rarely visiting only a handful of lucky few. And “The Summer of 1942”was only adding immeasurably to the woes of teen age. James Hadley Chase the fruit punch and lively too.
Reading as a habit kicked off with Enid Blyton ,a graduation of sorts in terms of English language, from Lee Falk’s Phantom and Mandrake comics, Tarzan and Flash Gordan.All these were supplemented if not garnished with the fascination of Bobanum Moliyum that was eagerly awaited every Wednesday or so.And Mali Kathakal in the Mathurbhoomi weekly not to forget the monthly dose of fantasies from “Ambilimamman “ and “Poompatta”.Aravindans “ Cheria Manushayrum Veliyalokavum “ was a trifle difficult for my mental faculty at that age ( 1972-75) .Though I eagerly bought the compiled edition of Aravindans animated magnum opus from DC Books, while well in my 30’s.But the ever present unscrupulous book pincher ( no not who) deprived me of its possession.
The Hari- Sree of Terror and the unknown was from the plagiarism of Kottayam Pushpanath .That is not a dénouement of the writer and my reading- grasping faculties I’m certain.
I always felt and I’m certain, that it took a good while for me to take to books of substance. And a handful of very good friendships and acquaintances helped me so.
Peter Matheson’s” Snow leopard” and The Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance being examples .But I must confess I could figure out nothing much reading the highly acclaimed book of Robert Maynard Pirsig . Though I can never forget introduction into Somerset Maughams and the hills of Kkillmanananjaro immortalized by Papa Hemmingway.
(Would not forget Maman (Balan) for these pleasantly memorable initiations. It may be farthest from exaggeration if I say that the spirit of Maugham walked by my side through the corridors and between rows of book shelves at the Public Library in Thiruvannathapuram, to where he alighted once in the 1930’s.
M.T.s” Nallukettu” was picked from The Public Library and that must have been in the 1980-81.It was a frenzied reading because of some real life characters that haunted me then. and “Oru Deshathinte Katha” was read in loneliness in Kohima in 1982. Discomfiture from paternal tragedy and anguish added to my psyche from the lines of that novel
I fancied myself in the secret rendezvous of The Secret Seven and the fascinating sea side haunts and the Island off the coast of The Famous Five. I remember vividly it was 9+21, of the Secret Seven and Famous five books I had in my personal collection all bought at Rs2 from Bhaskaran Nair Books at Pulimmod junction and the Pai & Co opposite Ayurveda College .Money of course gotten from extraneous sources and clandestinely to boot .As back home reading outside the curriculum was considered an anathema. But that horrendous late morning (1974) - I can still feel my heart twitch in convulsion and rip apart agonisingly from inside the rib cage, when I recollect taking those books to the terrace and pour kerosene over and lit. That was the only way I could stave off an official enquiry from within the house as to how I could get possession of these brand new editions of so many books. As it was too unconvincing to make believe the story that they were borrowed. Because the pages were aromatic of mystery and of the unknown to me and the smell of brand new leaflets of paper to my elders. Nevrthless I came to be noted a “A MARKED PERSON” since.
It was in 1983-84 one of those two weekend evenings( with one hour of power cuts) all alone in the apartment in Ernakulum, when every little ruffle, imaginary whisper and footsteps drained me of my life inch to inch, but yet my hold over Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula” was hauntingly blissful..
It was akin to losing the house you were born, and grew up- when the Newspapers revealed one fine morning that was not to be , The British Council Library has put down shutters for ever. The memories of Maurice Proctor and Inspector Martineau,The Mandarin stories of James Leasor, the black and white image filled books of the Ashes rivalry and the great Ranjith Singhji, the good old Parthasaathy (the Librarian) who reprimanded me for sneaking out on my junior account a book on Human anatomy……
But then it was when after reading I laid down ‘The Shape of The Beast” -conversation with the pretty Arundati Roy that I concluded for sure that all these little readings and world of books dose not matter unless they can chisel you into an ember smoldering with figurative and argumentative knowledge and incensed when insolence, tyranny and injustice is perpetuated And you hesitate to be a bystander and on looker.. Which in many case I’m and hence a hypocrite – a hypocrite who has some conscience left but lives a eunuch.