I am used to a lot of reading and for several years now.
I read a few pages every night lying on my bed until sleep takes over. Sometimes, I can almost see sleep tiptoeing towards me in which case, I still have the time to keep the book aside and lay down my arms in delightful surrender. Many times, however, sleep creeps up so swiftly and silently that I am literally caught napping. On such occasions, I can be found sleeping with an open book lying on my chest. My wife, Jyothi, takes care of the rest.
Topics for reading
I am careful of what I choose for my reading in bed. Normally, I avoid a politician’s autobiography, especially, if it has been released after his death – the skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard make so much noise that sleep can be chased away. I avoid leadership and management. Having exited corporate life after 30 long years, there are some things I just can’t take lying down any more. I cannot handle those thousand-page tomes – if dropped in sleep, they could crack open the rib cage.
I love accompanying Ruskin Bond to the Himalayas, soak in the scenery, breathe the refreshing mountain air, and drink from the mountain streams. Ruskin Bond introduces me to simple folks like the ones I am used to meeting in my travels to far-flung villages. I love R K Narayan’s extraordinary writing about ordinary people and situations. I seem to have met many of those people and situations in my own life. Once in a while, I pick something deep and philosophical like J Krishnamurti. It helps to juxtapose my simple existence with something as grand as the cosmos and put things in the right perspective.
The pleasure of reading
There is so much pleasure in such random reading. There is no expectation of any continuity. I could switch books half-way – no pressure to complete a chapter. I can read the same chapter again and again. There is no test to appear for and no planes to catch. I love staying on the same page, reading some passages, again and again, especially true for books on spirituality or philosophy. One may not get it right the first time or one may get it right but the import of its meaning requires several readings. In the morning, sometimes, I don’t really remember what I read…and that is fine. I can go back to it tonight. What a pleasure!
As winter approaches, the pleasure of reading in bed while being tucked under a rug is very special. Delhi winters can be quite harsh and getting the razai (quilt in Hindi) to reach the right temperature can be quite a challenge and one could slip into sleep in this process without having turned a page. Sometimes, in Delhi, it is so cold that keeping the hands out of the razai to hold the book may not seem worth it, given the book’s contents. The Bangalore winter, in comparison, is mild in temperament and requires just a light rug or blanket.
However, life has not been a bed of roses. There have been interruptions.
A few years ago, serial killers entered my life through a newly installed television in our bedroom. My reading had to wait until the prime-time serials concluded. Some of these serials are continuing even now but they got Jyothi so upset given their plastic-surgery-&-leap-forward routine that she finally gave up watching them.
Now interruptions are history. I am in a great place now. The set top box has a recording facility and Jyothi watches her programs in the day when I am not around. God bless Tata Sky!!
Incidentally, Jyothi has also developed a similar reading habit. We exchange notes on our reading and recommend books to each other, sometimes reading passages to each other aloud while the set-top box is at work, recording yet another tear-jerker.
We always shared a life and now we also share a reading lamp. It is now two of us being rocked to sleep by prose and imagination.
Well, my wife and I are now on the same page on yet another aspect of life.
I love the simple pleasures of Life. To read about how I do it, click here.