One of the things man is afraid of is loneliness. In order to overcome his extreme fear of loneliness, he seeks company and lives in company. But that does not mean we can associate ourselves with anybody and everybody. There must be something common that binds two people together. ‘Only birds of the same feather flock together.’
But what is it that we seek in the company of others? Understanding? Exchange of words? Advice? or Sympathy? All these and perhaps many more are not only what a friend would provide, but also a good book. A good book is more than a companion. When you are alone, it drives away your loneliness. It advices you, when you are in need of it. When your heart feels heavy, it removes the unnecessary burden, wipes away your tears and makes you smile.
But like the bad odors that pollute the atmosphere, there are bad books which weaken and corrupt the innocent. Such books may be good to read, but once the reading is over, gloom settles down and a kind of restlessness surrounds you.
There is yet another class of books. It is not for pleasure that we read them but for knowledge. The knowledge we need to drive away the darkness from within, the knowledge that we need to lighten our lives, the knowledge that makes us real human beings. They are the books that enlighten our lives. They are The Holy Books – The Bible, The Gita, The Quaran and the like.
’Tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are…’ goes a saying, since ‘A man is known by the company he keeps.’
It simply means that you are what your friends are. In fact, goods are more than a companion, and can do much more than what your friends can ever dream of. They can educate you above and beyond.
People ask me why I love books more than people on two legs. To them I say,
‘Close your books and come out in the open, nature is your teacher’ said Wordsworth.
Its true that people like Wordsworth can learn more from nature than from classrooms and books. But all are not Wordsworths, are they? I know for one, that I cannot for the life of me learn more from nature than from books.
Granted that nature educates us about the nuances of life, I prefer turning to my ever trusty books which are my friends and companions, guides and councilors.
By books I do not mean the ones we study for examinations. They are necessary to pass exams and get degrees. They give us a passport to success in life.
But life is all about passing exams and getting degrees always right? Man does not live on bread alone and life comprises more excitement. The undefined contentment that defies words can be obtained from books and books alone.
When ever there is a stir in my thoughts, a void or restlessness in my mind, I go to my shelf, take a book, open it at random sit down and read. Of course I’ve got my selected brand of authors and genres, ranging from Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Shakespeare and Austen, romance and parody to adventure and comedy.
I laugh with Katherine the Shrew, weep with Lear, mock like Urea Heap, lecture like Anthony, romance with Edward, investigate with Nancy, observe with Holmes, wonder like Miranda and exclaim, ‘Oh What a brave world this is!’
Yes. It is a world of my own. One which springs alive at the nod of my head and vanishes the moment I let the curtains fall down.
It is a world of my own.