Books are like that

By Sanket Alurkar. Sanket, 20, is a computer engineering student (junior) from Kjsieit, Mumbai University. He lives in Thane, India. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

The dawn of humanity saw early man wander the realms of earth in search of food, water, shelter and a mate. As he kept walking in his quest he met new people. He told them about his journey, shared his experience in the wild, and they exchanged techniques to survive. They discussed what worked and what didn’t. This has been the process ever since man has grown from a hunter gatherer to a civilised human being. Along the way, through the ages, he learned various ways to survive, grow and evolve. One common thread that binds the stone age man with today’s new age man is his fervour to tell stories. The mediums might have changed, the styles might have evolved, but at its core storytelling is a strong impulse to share one’s yearnings, wants, despairs, aspirations and hopes.

When ideas marry feelings, characters are born. We start believing in them. We relate with them, we think we know them and we grow to care about them. This makes a potent story that lights up the blank screen, fills up an empty canvas with vivid imagery that rubs off in our daily lives and inspires us to see the silver lining behind every dark cloud.

Humans enjoy great stories. Generations of storytellers have enthralled us through their immersive narration through drama, cinema and books. Books are an integral part of story-telling. Authors from William Shakespeare to Ernest Hemingway have inspired a generation of storytellers and as few of them began experimenting with genres the eighteenth century saw the birth of children’s fiction.

Childhood is the most impressionable part of human life. A child is receptive to thoughts, emotions and feelings. Books help these bright young minds relate to the world around them, make sense of the world and face it with confidence. In this modern age with changing societal norms, easy access to internet and a handy smartphone, books play a pivotal role in the upbringing of a child as they reveal the good parts and the dark aspects of the world. This portrayal of the world is grounded in reality. In his novel “The adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Mark twain tackles weighty cultural issues and comments on the social evils. The great children’ author, Dr. Seuss, wrote the poem “Oh! The Places you’ll go…” which inspires every human to go out in the world with an open heart and a can do attitude. He urges us to walk our path through light and darkness and ultimately pushes us to move our mountain by faith, love and courage.

When children read books their thoughts are shaped and nurtured. They learn from the characters and apply it in their lives. Stories tell them the possibilities of tomorrow, the experience of yesterday and the magic of now. It takes them to places they have never been before and along the way it broadens their outlook and horizons.

As the child goes through life. He becomes self-aware and learns new life skills. The foundation of the formative years helps the kid to go out and express himself in the world. He earns his place under the sun, picks up his orange field, finds a suitable partner and gets married, has children, raises them with love and care. His life is spent between his vocation, wife and children. He finds his share of laughter and fun but its not the same as when he was young.

One fine day he realises that his kids have grown up and his vigour is diminishing gradually. Some words are left unsaid, some goals are left untouched, some places are left undiscovered, some potential is left untapped. With a thinning hairline and waning confidence he sits in his study reflecting upon the trajectory of his life and then he questions “Is this all there is in life?”

During this time of reflection and solitude a poignancy of loneliness sets in. And during these stormy times he finds solace in the company of his old friends – the books that he read as a kid. Reliving his childhood adventures through books, the canvas of life lights up again sparking a glimmer of hope. Oblivious to the surrounding world, he escapes into fantasy. But this time seeking the deeper meaning that is laden behind the characters and the story. Few decades ago the same book told a different story and now it’s telling something else.

The book opens up his mind to new directions and new challenges. He realises that time and fate might have made him weak but some work of noble note is yet to be done. It’s not same as the old days, but with a heroic heart that is strong in will he rises again to strive, to seek and to find.

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