Possession

On my right, a zoo zoo holding a bat with its mouth open looks on, a mug sits next to it, cold and white and as useless now as the teabag inside it. There are books on the table, piled on top of each other randomly, looking just the way I want them to look, deliberately careless. A bunch of black wires sticking out from a hard disk and a pair of earphones are casually strewn about by the books.  They feel left out, like they always do amidst books and paper and Net book and pen stands and coffee mugs. They are fillers between the time that you are completely uninspired and the time when you are 5 minutes away from writing a masterpiece you will secretly be proud of.

A plate, empty except bits of yellow food is on my left gathering flies. Various branches from the only tall tree standing in front of my house threaten to knock the window down. I am sitting in front of it, trying to think of something sensible to write. A bundle of uncorrected answer scripts are trying hard to get into the picture, cutting into my time and view. I am very careful about not looking at them, atleast not right way. I do however, want to get done with it just so I can move on with my life and all the other things I will not do.

It’s a holiday today so this is usually the time when I am busy making life altering plans for the day, only to watch it from a distance and grin impishly as it passes me by.

The cursor and a half filled page mock at me now and then. Their voice, disapproving of everything I have ever written and of everything else that I have erased. I have used the Control A + delete button thrice since this morning.  All three were attempts at writing about the book I finished reading yesterday. I am going to make one last attempt.

I finished reading possession yesterday and I am in love with Christabel LaMotte. There were tears followed by quiet howls when the drama ended. Finishing a book has always been an emotional moment for me but more often than not they are accompanied by a brutish sense of accomplishment and relief. Yesterday, I felt neither. I was mostly unhappy because she planned to live differently and deliberately and bang in the middle of when she was getting good at it, she falls in love and is mercilessly burnt by it. A.S Byatt is a seductress and I know I will get kicked for saying this but I am thrilled that she is a woman. Finally now when somebody asks me why I don’t worship a woman writer the way I worship Llosa or Nabokov, I can scream ‘A.S Byatt’

No other book has caused me so much grief when it ended. Surely, when I finished reading ‘The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto’, I was partly grieving but I was also secretly relieved. It took me three months to finish Possession but there are no regrets. I still wish I was reading it. Most books, when they end, leave me vulnerable like a small child. A part of me died when I read about Ammu’s affair with that man and her subsequent suicide in  ‘The God of Small things’; I felt betrayed and wailed in misery when I finished ‘Em and the Big Hoom’, I beat my chest and mourned over Dobby’s death. She crossed a line there, that Rowling.

Some characters, some words, some descriptions, some moments are what I am left with when I leave the book. Every book read and kept back on the shelf takes a bit of me with it. They have more memories of me and my moods, my secrets and my tales, my desires and my pains than my journals. They are constant reminders of life as it happened while I was reading it. Of all the things I remembered and missed, of all the plans I made, of all the trials of writing a piece soon after reading a paragraph that made me jealous.

Possession is a beautiful book. Byatt weaves a plot thick with the human desire to go back in time to see how they lived, loved and wrote and the forgotten mysteries of the written word and what they are capable of. Maggi says I will have the Possession hang over for two more weeks. I am kind of looking forward to it while having carefully made my next jump to Llosa’s ‘Captain Pantoja and the special service’.

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