Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?
Every year a read a few books that sting my heart. They may not be instrumental in changing the course of my life but in the long run, for various reasons, I remember bits and pieces of them – embedded deep in my subconscious.
The last one that kept me longing for a few nights was Love in the time of Cholera (Garcia Marquez). The deep, buried spark of love – the omnipresent grief – the indifferent leading lady and the equally torn, anguished, lover searching her heart in every face; the romantic yet matter of fact doctor and husband – every character woven intricately with so many twists and flaws of character yet without any knots of ambiguity in an age-old saga of love. While reading it, my heart opened up to so many related stories of my life – each like a seed – watered at times or left to dry depending upon where I was situated in the graph of life, but each with an ability to nip and tear the seams of my collected persona.
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
“She would defend herself, saying that love, no matter what else it might be, was a natural talent. She would say: You are either born knowing how, or you never know.
“Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.”
Such a masterpiece of feelings! Such a relationship between words that it feels as if life is walking from page to page – soaring in love and sinking in misery of it – shinning like a bright star in the goodness and compassion of it yet grieving and bleeding with regularity of loss and defeat. And here is one more that simply defines the dichotomy of what we assimilate all throughout our lives only to never make use of it again:
“Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.“