March 10, 2010

Goodbye Love; Goodbye Rebellion

It has been a long time since I got both the news but I kept quiet. I didn’t exactly know if these would make any difference to anyone anywhere around the world. Yes, news reams would be filled up and people would read them on the e paper or on their toilet bowls but the reality is that no one would care.

Did anyone care when Gangubai Hangal passed away in the middle of last year? Newspapers, which are a true reflection of what the public thinks is important had this news in one corner in some inner pages of every publication. If I tell most kids today this news, they would say Gangubai Who?

Anyway, the reason I am writing this tonight is because I just read my Valentine’s Day post and really felt bad. It should have been on the person who for the first time showed me what Love really was. I still remember the year. I was in Class 7 trying to convince a fellow Bosconian that the movie Dil might be great to watch but he didn’t have to emulate it in real life. Being love struck, he of course was paying no heed to my discourse and handed me the book. And I read it mesmerized from the very first page. Given the Victorian snob I was then, having read Romeo and Juliet in the original I thought I knew all about love. Of course I had also watched all Uttam Kumar - Suchitra Sen movies, the other source of knowledge about love for most Bengalis born before 1990.

Oliver and Jennifer made love so much more contemporary and real than the fight between the Montagues and Capulets. And I sat down on the staircase near the chapel and read. For the first time, the monitor was later than his classmates in attending assembly post recess.

The best thing about Love Story is that this was one book which did not change as I grew up. I never understood anything differently as I re read it again and again. Perhaps it was just another tested American formula but who cares in the end.

Acts of faith, Doctors, The Class followed. One of my close friends adored him and an inspired me completed the entire works within 2 months. But still Love Story remained where it was in my heart.

My Valentine’s Day post should have been just two lines, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” If only people realized that.

I met Holden Caulfield on a train journey from Calcutta to Delhi. I never had much faith in the so called “highly recommended” books. I do not care about Yossarian; neither do I have much to do with John Galt. The only book which did not disappoint me was perhaps, “To Kill a Mocking Bird”

Anyway coming back to Holden, I read it on the journey and then handed it over to C and asked, “What’s the big deal?” C replied, with the classic disgusted look, “I think it’s a big deal if someone after murdering the greatest rock sensation ever born, sits down to read it” and walked away without paying for the Sheekanzi.

I was aghast. Mark David Chapman would now decide what I would read!!! But I did some research and found out a strange connection between literature and revolution and rebellion. Chapman had said a large part of him was Holden Caulfield and the smaller part The Devil. Holden Caulfield was to the US teenager what the Hungry Generation of poets were to the Naxalite movement in Bengal. Literature gave voice to people. And sometimes people hear those voices in their heads.

I re read the book many times over the course of next 5-6 years and today I understand the significance to some extent. Mind you I still do not consider it a classic, but I realize why it is such an important part of the West growing up. And I realized his delusion of being the protector and catching the young children as they fell down from the cliff

We all want to be Gods. And we become one so many a time in our lives for Gods are Crazy. They love messing us up. Ten years down the line perhaps Holden Caulfield will inspire the rebellious teenagers of India.

But till then, it’s goodbye to love and rebellion.


Anonymous said...

Nice post and nice to see your thoughts on Love, Love Story.

Nitesh Ambuj said...

Nice post and nice to see your thoughts on Love, Love Story.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ ANon and Nitesh - Thanks a ton.