There is a time and place for everything,
And a mind that governs it all.
There is skepticism in a wish,
And comfort in a fall.
But bow not your head to life’s furious hammer.
Rather break the shackle that binds,
And at destiny’s gate clamor.
For when all is said and done,
And you are young and free.
Though dreams appear distant,
You are today all you ever need to be.
I read this poem in an almost invisible section of Delhi times, sometime in mid-1999. Since then it has stayed with me as a guiding light, as a means of lifting my spirits. The power of words is unimaginable if we chose to read them and hear them not with our eyes and ears but with our life.
I have never known anyone who reads and does not develop a way to look beyond the surface-level layer of people and situations. The depth to which they go depends on many other factors including the kind of reading they do. But it’s far easier for someone who reads, to develop an imagination, to look beyond the real and reach what may be possible. This is the power of reading. If and only if we open ourselves to experience a writer’s world, the world she creates through her words, can we say that we have really read something.
But it’s easier said than done. Who would want to mirror their own life in the miseries and happiness of characters portrayed in a book? But people do it. That’s why we have books and authors living in this world. We the readers of the world live and breathe in the characters and their lives while reading. We have lived in all real and imagined countries and planets. We have lived in the past and in future. We have jolted into our realities in the present with the awareness that came with words.
It’s true that we may not really be conscious of what goes on inside us while reading. The beauty of the way something is written usually takes over all our conscious senses. We may not know why we were smiling, crying, or horrified at reading different texts. But without telling us, words make an inroad into our hearts and minds. And ultimately that’s all that matters.