Category Archives: Random musings

To long for, or not to long for: That’s the question.

We all might have experienced a throbbing desire to reach out to something or someone at any point in our life. Essentially, our life ahead is lit by some sort of desires of various intensities which at times we are ignorant about. You might long for something/someone for a long time; but what do you do after you get what you want? Or perhaps have you ever thought that you no longer have the feeling of longing itself? For the latter, yes I am used to thinking about it many times. What would you do when what you miss is the longing itself?

Desire and longing. We all desire for something but all of them are not longing. However, desire is actually an expression of longing. For desire to become longing, it has to be intense and strong enough that is physical, emotional at the same time intangible. You feel it in every inch of your soul. Our longings are also dynamic. During childhood I longed for material things , but over time, I started to long for attention, validation, acceptance, love, possessiveness, purpose, happiness, peace, clarity, independence and so on. I would say we always long for something that it has to no longer be longed for. In other words, we cannot long for something that is attainable in our conscience. If everything we seek is already there within us, or within our reach, we can no longer ‘long’ for it.

With each road not taken, I always had longed for more. I always wanted more. With each road taken, my heart ached. Always felt a sense of never enough. But the mystery of what life has kept in store is strangely compelling. The waiting. So I went. But I always long for clarity and certainty. With every new road taken, it appears dark or blank or sometimes scary and the conscience that there is not U turn makes me to long to find my way back or to escape. But I know I am no exception.

Maybe, that’s how we get to know ourselves. Infinite loop of getting lost and rediscovering. Longings, mistakes, disappointments and realisations. Perhaps in that way we learn or even change or maybe we don’t or never will. Is that a better a better thing ? How do we know that it is better? Another test? Yeah, infinite loop!

Explore, explore and explore. I will understand at the end why it did all turned out that way.Now comes the coping. I’ll accustom to it and make peace with it. And I’ll be alright. Longing for longings to be settled at last. But until when? That’s where I long for clarity. At the same time, at times, overweighed with infinite loop of memories, betrayals, flickers, pain, wants and disappointments, I feel that I am no longer capable of longing for anything. Yeah , to long for, or not to long for: that’s the question.

Revisiting serious literature read during childhood: The pertinent question of ‘right’ age

As a person with a childhood before the internet revolution, I grew up reading lots of books during childhood. If someone asks me to name a few of them, then it would be a surprise to note that many of them were not child literature. I have read Malayalam translated versions of Greek mythologies, historical novels like The Miserables by Victor Hugo, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and so on while studying in primary classes. When I say this, some might even go to the extend of saying that I am self-boasting. But the truth is this: I was in an autopilot mode where I had no idea on what to read, and often it was just that I was given a book to read by the librarian. Yes, I have read them. But did I really read them comprehensively? Did I appreciate the book? Answer is No. I can only remember I have read that book. Not just few pages, but fully. Now the next question is How did that happen if I did not understand anything in the book? Perhaps I just liked the idea of reading, but not grasping the idea of book. I remember discussing with a friend on Oedipus and Electra Complex, where I became excited to say that “I know, I know, these characters are from Greek mythologies”. But the fact is that I knew them, but could not connect appropriately to the context. Now that I look back, I wonder how many classics were wasted by my mechanical (though devoted!) and untimely reading. I am sure that what those great books really depict will neither be understood nor be able to be appreciated until we reach a certain age. For this reason, I would love to reread all those books, and see how do I perceive and appreciate them now. Certainly, there would be a huge difference.

Well, this poses another question on the flip side: are there some books you should read only when you are a child? Probably yes, probably not. However, the relevance of children’s literature can never be compromised. Children’s literature such as myths, fairy tales and fables have an important role in drawing children towards books. It helps in developing reading and thinking capabilities which are gradually upgraded to serious literature. It also helps children respond to narratives. Unfortunately, writers who engage in children’ s literature are quite low these days. I am skeptical whether this is only true for Malayalam children’ s literature. We don’t have many indigenous authors truly dedicated to Malayalam children’s literature; all I can think of is Kunjunni Master, Sippi Pallippuram, S Sivadas and K Pappootty. That was why most of the Malayalam Children’s literature that are popularly available are mainly translated versions. For example, Aesop’s fables, Totto-Chan, Panchatantra, Russian fairy tales etc. That is not bad either. Translated children’s literature had a great role in propagating reading habits among children. That was one reason why more funds were allocated to renovate school libraries. However, are there new children’s literature emerging out, apart from what we have read during our childhood? Don’t know, probably children would end up on same books that we had read years ago. Apparently, rereading children’s literature as an adult is also another interesting aspect. Though at first glance it may sound silly, there is no doubt that revisits will bring in comfort, nostalgia, relaxation, and perhaps some trace disappointment that you can’t go back.

Parents also could play a role in childhood reading. They could watch children’s reading habits, discuss with them how did they feel about the book, whether they understand the and appreciate the book. Accordingly, parents could direct their children to choose books appropriate to their level of reading, maturity and sensibility. Websites such as amazon is used to providing reading age range, grade level, Lexile measure and category in product description. However, unlike in the past, it is seen that modern day parents tend to prefer other extra curricular activities such as drawing, bottle art, singing, swimming, karate, personality development classes rather than reading. They are all certainly good for one or another reason; at the same time, children should be also educated about the prospect of reading habit in life. Parents should also not overdo this; meaning not force their children to read heavier books just to show off to the world how well they can read at younger age.

Now, the famous Harry Potter. I remember few friends in my school were talking about it. I attempted once to read, but left with me an impression that it is a ‘hard’ book to read. Not only that, it also created in me an impression that those who finish reading Harry potter must be intelligent. Many parents consider their children reading Harry Potter at the age of five as a matter of pride and honour. While the maturity and sensibility varies from child to child, to be honest, I am dubious whether they understand it fully at younger age like five and six. Of course, there is no clear rule of thumb available to accurately assign a book to an age group. Our concept of how a child thinks should be introspected too. Some children may approach life like an adult, and may deliberately choose to read a particular book too earlier than it is supposed to be. Fine. What if the book did not work? There are two chances. One is where the child might come back to it again when become older, reads it, understands it and appreciates it. Good enough. Another is where there is no come back. This is a problem because, in this case the child is missing out what insights the book had to offer. Just like my Harry Potter case. As every book has only one chance to impress us, it is quite reasonable for a child to wait few years to read a book that is meant to an older age group. So, it appears to me that right book at right age is a matter of finding a sweet spot amidst complexities.