Last year, while I read “The Lover’s Dictionary” by David Leviathan, I cried. It was spontaneous, it was acceptable. Somewhere, the heartbreak that he had described had seemed very very personal tome. So, when I read it smack in the middle of a city that seemed to me as increasingly alien, and with the rain falling all over the ground, I had fallen in love. In a fit of love, I had claimed that it was beautiful, the greatest novel out of the modern writers.
But, then impulse wears out. Today, as I sat down for the re-read I found that the magic was missing. In a year, the love showed in large words and complicated vocabulary had been replaced. And it made me think that I was not reading something profound but, something pretentious. The same feeling I had had while I read a John Green novel during a late late night that seemed to consume everything around us. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get past the initial pages. It was breaking me, but, the words seemed distant, unromantic.
But, “Lover’s Dictionary” is a harder blow overall. This is a book that I wholly loved, this is a book that defined me. Somewhere everything about the break up seemed to have been written in this smallish novel. But, then perhaps I grew up, and the cold anger, the sudden grief seems to have subsided. And when the emotional drunkenness is gone, this novel does seem so so empty as a whole. As if it had been written to serve only the drunk. What is the value of such a novel then? When you cannot get anything out of it except the emptiness of the all consuming soul?
This book in particular is filled with intricate words, excerpts that would be in place even in the cheesiest movies. Yet, that part that makes it click is missing. It seems like Bollywood without that trademark humour, or even rom-coms without their cheesy moments. The book lacks the soul that makes romances tick. A soul that even I haven’t found till date.
But, then I hope someday I will.
Till then as I grow up, I will see more and more love stories become stale and irrelevant. And perhaps, someday even Rumi shall seem to be trash. But, that’s part of growing up I guess. Then again that scares me, that everything will become irrelevant one particular day. That, the world would end in a disaster for me. Do you ever wonder what would happen if romance itself ceased to exist?
If all the copies of Neruda and Keats burned in the distance and anyone who read Austen was exiled because the romance was gone, what remains? If books change too, then what is constant?