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Serial Killers of Ignorance and Boredom
by Debajyoti Das
Talking Straight

Whenever I used to have one of those 'its not my fault' arguments with my parents I usually ended up exasperated and at a loss for words, desperately wanting to strike back yet knowing quite discernibly that the scales were tilting heavily on their side.

My childhood days have been quite rebellious and I often wonder who was left more battle scarred by the time I reached the threshold of adulthood, 'me' or my patient unflinching parents.

Well most of those days I would simply curl up in bed and pull a blanket disgusted, disappointed and guilty. Sometimes I would believe I was right and that made the nights quite disastrous. It was during one of those nights when I would pick up that stray 'Tinkle Digest' and flip through the pages. That time of the night would usually be very silent. I distinctly remember though, that somehow the book had pierced the silence. The walls of my room had humbly transformed into open fields, the characters of the stories had sprung to life and my melancholy had eagerly melted away as I had got completely involved in their lives and adventures. I had managed to smile at Tenali Raman's wit and later on I had managed to shudder at Lord Voldemort's wrath.

Although my beginning trysts with reading were not exactly the best I would have liked, since they concerned some of my sadder days, the books provided great company. Slowly but surely they became a very interesting part of whatever I am today.

From within my very room, I have traveled the world, I have had a journey to the centre of the earth and traveled around the world in 80 days. Discovering Europe, ancient Britain, historic India and even fictional time strata, traveling had never been a cheaper affair in life. This is because there have been books written about all these places and one can easily smell the English breeze in the words of William Shakespeare.

Of course my books have also guided me to a very interesting future all thanks to HG Wells and his book 'Time Machine'. It is amazing sometimes when I look back and think how much I have learned from 'mere' fiction. 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens, Shakespeare at his philosophical best and very recently a Chetan Bhagat novel called 'Five point Someone' have taken my age somewhat beyond what I could have achieved by simple experience. As a law student John Grisham and his pieces of legal fiction have also held my mind captive. They truly provide you a good insight into not only the legal system but also into the minds of the smart legal brains.

Books are most certainly a man's best friend. A 'good' book is perhaps much more than even the 'bestest' of friends. I remember this short story by Anton Chekhov called 'The bet' which also had an interesting literature dedicated to books and reading. In the story a man who had spent 20 years in solitary confinement used most of his time reading and losing himself in the books. Somewhat like when I started reading and got lost in the books myself! At the end he despises currency to the tune of 2 million pounds. Well I don't quite want anybody to despise any wealth that he may rightfully get but I don't want anybody to miss out also, on a companion that can actually teach you to despise that wealth. Lord Bacon had said, "Reading maketh a full man". I tend to believe in the same.

You know, in earlier times a man with more experience and age was assumed to have wisdom. Today the only reason why grandsons come out chirping with arguments and bubbling with correctness is because of the access to knowledge. I wonder what kind of a kid would like to stay back missing out on a knowledge that is today so freely available, and keep living a life of ignorance. The specimen in question: Newspapers! They have been my 'first love'. Hmm! Maybe I'll regret having said this when I get married later on, but for now life would be so very hollow without those glorious, informative and thoroughly entertaining sheets of paper. Me and my dad can be usually found quibbling over the morning newspaper. Well what am I supposed to do, he takes it all the way to his wretched office! Anyways without a daily dose of my knowledge I always feel something big has happened somewhere and I am just missing out on the all the hype. I can also promise you that the general awareness that these newspapers (I mean a good one - my favorite being the "The Times of India") offer you at you, it will only help you in facing the world ahead with a much stronger ammunition backup. Many competitive exams have an important thrust on GK, and this is your chance to beat it.

Now, more than any other piece of literature that I ever clipped on to, Thomas Hobbes and his work 'Leviathan' has taught me the most. In this treatise he thoroughly analyses the nature of man, he dissects the need for law and portrays a deep societal understanding. Philosophy has always been very close to my heart. I guess, everyone of you has heard of Marx, Karl Marx. Yeah right, Marxism, Marxist ideology et al. But do you really understand what it is.

Lets do it 'Mastercard' style...Hearing about a thinker: 2nd grade of school. Knowing something about him: 10th grade! Really understanding the infinite literatures: Priceless and timeless! Our great thinkers and philosophers of the past have left us such a vast and priceless volume of literature that can enlighten whoever is touched by them. Being a law student I was probably pushed into reading all about it in my political science course, but having read about them... Am I lucky or Am I Lucky! I am so glad I was ever pushed there. I may be so wrong in my feeling but I do feel that through my books perhaps I am one more step closer to understanding 'man'. Or perhaps in the words of William Wordsworth, "What man has made of man."

So pick up the habit...I mean what can possibly stop you from reading! Every night even if you stay at home you can learn something or the other. So before you say good night to yourself make sure you say good night to ignorance and boredom...Why? Because books tend to be serial killers of both! 

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