Romancing with Reading


G Balasubramaniam
Editor-in-Chief, The Progressive School, New Delhi

Have you fallen in love with reading? Have you enjoyed those beautiful romantic moments? Reading is indeed a romance. It is a conversational dance between the reader and the author of the content, be it be a text, a poetry, a fiction, a novel, a drama or a scientific thesis.

Reading maketh a full man” – as I heard this statement being echoed in the hall of the library I walked in, I turned around to see Sir Francis Bacon was standing right there. “Do you remember what I wrote?” He questioned. “Reading maketh a full man; Conference a ready man; writing an exact man,” I repeated. He smiled and said, “But who reads all these things today? How many do really visit the libraries to read such classical literature? You are living in a world where there is no time to stand and stare.“ He looked at Wordsworth thanking him for those wonderful lines.

“To be or not to be that is the question” – walked in Shakespeare with a pensive look. “I really wonder whether we should still be in your libraries or find out some other place to dwell.” As I turned around I found a host of authors, writers and poets surrounding with questions for which I had no answer.

“I brought in a Nobel. But no one is inclined to read what I wrote.” Tagore was standing aside. Following were a host of other people – Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Subramania Bharathi, Kumaran Asan, Jaishankar Prasad, Premchand and a few others.

“Every man by himself is a volume, if at all one could read him,” remarked Victor Hugo. “They have no time to read themselves,” was a punch someone else added.

I ran out of the library and gasping for breath, sat down under a greenwood tree. I thought I must reflect their pain in writing. “A moving finger writes, and having writ moves on,” sang Omar Khayyam sitting at the top of the greenwood tree and looking at the skies.

Time to introspect. Why have we given up reading? Why are we reading only for utility? Is there something more to reading?

Reading is a romance…

Have you fallen in love with reading? Have enjoyed those beautiful romantic moments? Yes! Reading is indeed a romance. It is a conversational dance between the reader and the author of the content, be it be a text, a poetry, a fiction, a novel, a drama or a scientific thesis. It takes the reader to the theatre of the mind where you enjoy the NAVARASAS depending on the theme and style of the content. Often times you start swimming into the unfathomed oceans of knowledge where you discover pearls of wisdom, see a panorama of the biosphere unravelled, a freshness of experience which you had never felt. You are left alone, but never feel lonely. You are invited to a meaningful conversation where you never feel singled out, pessimistic or impacted by an aura of negativities. It handholds you to a world of new understanding and leaves you safe for innovation and creation. It challenges your mind and instincts and seeks responses to whom you have never been familiar earlier. Yes, reading is romance that ushers into you a passion for self-discovery, elevating you continuously to higher levels of maturity and enabling you to be wiser than ever before.

Reading with a purpose…

Reading with a purpose is like traveling in a train where your seats already pre-booked. You look through the windows to a scenery which is relaxing and takes you through a series of landscape which is attractive though not impressive always. Reading with a purpose tells you that your destination is already defined and hence you enjoy the journey depending on your moods, the kind of people who travel with you or even the climatic conditions through which you are traveling. The contents reveal you a meaning which you need because they serve a purpose, a message that you want to use somewhere sometime or that gets examined by a traveling examiner in the system you are engaged with.

Reading for pleasure…

Reading for pleasure is like your holiday tour. Though you are organized, you let nothing condition you. You want to take things as they come, the gentle breeze, the rough weather, an adamant rain, the sound of thunders and some flashes of lightening. You enjoy everything. What indeed matters is that you experience a joy in everything without bothering whether you are wet or dry, laughing every time the wind slaps your face, opening the shutters of the windows peeping out to let the droplets of the rain wash your face! Reading for pleasure is never toxic, but like having a bottle of beer on a tiresome day. (but do avoid addiction). Novels, poetry, short stories and a few plays do offer a wonderful resort for launching your brain for moments of pleasure. Adventure texts and scientific fictions too trigger your curiosity to a travel to alien worlds and offer an unknown pleasure. Never take such a reading too serious or attach a purpose to that. Be child-like playing hide and seek with these contents and they rest in the lawns of your cerebrum and help you to revisit when you need to relax and recall the past with a sense of ownership.

Reading for knowledge…

Reading for knowledge assimilation is like performing an official journey. Somebody has got you a ticket and directed you to go to a destination for a specific assignment. It really doesn’t give you a satisfaction because your mind is preoccupied with a given goal. You don’t feel like looking through the window, rather you bring down the shutters to avoid distraction. You refuse to let the natural light and switch on the bulb behind your seat. You look at your watch to see how much time you have travelled. You stay focused and don’t respond to the smile of the co-traveller. Reading books for examinations, reading official documents project a documentary in your mind and you watch them emotionless. Oftentimes such readings are part of a life process, when you are concerned with a narrow purpose.

Reading a poetry

Reading a poetry is like dancing with your fiancée in the moving train. You just don’t bother what the co-travellers think. Your emotions carry you to a world of flights where you see the stars twinkling, the planers glowing, the satellites singing and there is a rhythm without a sound. You dance to each tune that comes from within, sometimes with gentle steps and sometimes with a maddening speed. It matters not whether it is a classical dance or a tribal dance or ballet on the floors of a ball room. You just enjoy and honestly neither you nor others find out whether there are any mistakes in your steps or your body language — because it is all about the romance in the dance. Reading poetry is indeed romantic. It is a harbinger of your gentle emotions, the truth behind what you are and an expression of your uninhibited self. Every letter of the poetry holds your arm, every word of the poetry places its head on your shoulder, every sentence of a poetry engulfs your whole body. You dance passionately as if you have finalized realised who you are. The joy of an unknown heaven, the reliving of the life of a foetus in the mother’s uterus and the lonely walk along with the fiancée on the shores of native beach – all these experiences you might get when you read poetry!

Reading from a book…

Reading from a book is like walking on a sea shore barefoot with little waves embracing your feet now and then. It is like eating a fruit that you have just plucked from the tree. It is like drinking fresh coconut water rigging the fruit that has just fallen down from a nearby tree. It is just like cuddling a new born calf delivered by a pregnant mother. It is native and fresh.

Reading from a screen…

Reading from a screen – the visit to a cafeteria for a fast food during a bus journey. Sitting in the seat, you push things into the mouth, conditioned by the time and space, accommodating your reading interests to the will of a driver whose moods impact the brake he applies. “Hey, Driver. A bit slow man, let me close my laptop. I would better read on my book…!!!”

G.BalasubramanianG.Balasubramanian, Editor-in-chief of The Progressive School Magazine is a leading educator in the field of school education, curriculum designer, author, HR trainer and educational administrator. Widely traveled, he has authored several books for schools, educational administrators and is a premier teacher-trainer both across the country and abroad. He has authored – Mindscaping Education, Case Studies in Classrooms, Quality Spectrum – A school’s bandwidth and Safety in Schools – Issues & concerns.