I should have found Tea Obrehdt by any case. She was not an author who had attracted me, and she definitely did not attract me at the first sight. Yet, as I stood before the monuments created by second hand books, I found “The Tiger’s Wife” alluring, and there I was reading it at 6 AM in the morning with my heart content like it hadn’t been since, forever.

It is not that I loved the book too much, or even that I am going to recommend it to everyone I know. It’s just that, it was something I never thought I would read, and I did end up reading her. As I did with Elena Ferrante, suddenly she was in my radar, and I found a copy of her book with me, and I felt like that was quite inexplicable. Then, I read about her and I was in love.

In the era of curated lists and online content which is at the tip of our fingers, we have somehow become less experimental. Stuck in the endless cycle of recommendations which are maintained by algorithms and a media which highlights only select books throughout the year, we never experiment. We don’t go the one step farther.
It’s scary really, as an author, as a person, to see that before me, the endless possibilities dying because we just won’t go out of our zone.

Problem remains that reading things that show the world in colors that we think it already is dangerous. For most times the only reason we do not accept other people is because we have never seen their viewpoints. It is scary really. Works of art are a lesson in real life and that helps us.

Maybe, I am not educated about the Balkan states by reading “The Tiger’s WIfe” and probably Elena Ferrante is not going to make me fall for Italy. Yet, it had given me an outlook to the world I did not cultivate earlier, and that aids me in understanding them better, seeing them better.

We need to peek out of the covers and stare at the world around us, and read new things. It could begin with a visit to the library or to a second hand book shop. Something where you have the world before you and you go towards a stranger book with a smile on your face. Some times you need to take a jump to find the romance at your lips and that is necessary.


Re-interpreting Rabindranath

It has been a long while since, I have seen you. The exams and college have kept me relatively busy these past few months and I have missed you all for every single moment of that journey.

Strangely, enough these long nights and terrible days have not be entirely fruitless. For better or for worse, I found a taste for an old artist from my heritage. Yes, like this typical Bengali boy, right now am eating a morning tea as Kishore Kumar sings “Amar Bela je Jay”, and it is making me feel good too.

And last time I went on a date, I sang “Amaro porano jaha chai” while I was walking on the road in celebration. I smiled to the sweetness of the song, I laughed at the versatility of it.

However, I am pretty sure, my Rabindranath is not the same as yours. Like any artist that has ever been, the poet is interpreted by me as a different being, an wholly different entity for me. What appears as merely romantic for you, is sexual for me, and a lot of other songs are songs written to a lover rather, than a God. Perhaps, because I am in that phase of my life, where my sighs command my personality, and where, I fall in love with every fleeting figure in my life.
Rabindranath has evolved for me, as had Sukumar Ray when I first encountered the motley of people at my college, as had Sukanto when I had seen poverty for myself. It has always been a part of growing up I mean, seeing artists change. You discover a second nature of works behind the surface and as you keep scratching, the world that you see is changed more and more.

So, consider my embarrassment when even my mother goes that interpreting Rabindranath sexually, to see it in that spectrum is not done. It is not that I do not get her sentiments. But, can you stare closely at “Purono Sei Diner Kotha” and say that it is meant only for the opposite sex friends you had? Or could it be applied to the childish romance you had staged with your best friends as well?

I mean, Tagore is known for depicting each and every spectrum of life through his music, through his stories. And even if the original intent was not the same, which I am very sure it was not, it can be interpreted as thus. Being an elitish in the matters of interpretation binds the poet into your mental image alone, and by all means you get to hold onto the image that you have of Tagore, but, do not ask me to hold onto your image.
What you drew with charcoal pencils can also be drawn with wax crayons.
This sis something I want you to understand.

Artists, readers, people… All see a poet differently, because poetry is flexible. Poetry is meant to mean different things. And the verse which sings of anger to you, sings to me of pain.

And no interpretation made thus, is terrible.

Finding Graphic Novels…

The thing about graphic novels is, they are one of the awkward hit and miss things we have. I mean I have seen people who can do research with the amount of knowledge they have and I have seen people who are ashamed to even add it to their reading lists because somehow that makes them less serious readers. Which is strange really, seeing that graphic novels might contain some of the deepest stuff I have read in recent times.

I mean, I think everyone I met loves “Persepolis” for one reason or the other. the book is honest, it is the portrayal of a society that is widely discriminated against, coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Plus, it has this beautiful way of telling the story that makes you shudder and think about everything the poor girl went through.

And¬†oh God, I can talk about “Maus” for months I guess. I have had that phase too, when i obsessed about it every single day, trying to find a way to get out these feelings I had.

The thing is, when we get right down to it, we would have all kinds of comic books. I hated the New 52 Batman with a vengeance because of the character, “The Dark Knight Returns” for all its popularity and uniqueness was a terrible thing to re-read.¬†However, that is true for every genre under the sun innit?

Are they literature?

They sure are.

I think they are more though. There is a certain old world charm in these comic books, something that reaches out to the young and the old. We all began by seeing pictures after all.

So, finding them…

Just find something you like and not something that has been recommended you know?
Dig deeper and find something you would really love at the end of the day. Give the graphic novels a fighting chance.

I did not give that to them for a long while, and I regret it every day.