Books and Butterflies
Yesterday I was cleaning the bookshelf. Much dust has gathered. Many pages have aged; some came off as flakes that look like butterflies with no energy left to fly.
I feel like that sometimes. However, it is not because I lack energy or drive, but I seem to have tied my own wings. I say "seem to" because I am not quite sure. Come to think about it, leaves too fly in the wind and they have no wings.
Why am I talking about wings? Books. Yes, to return to the subject. This picture is perhaps from one rack, and I plopped them on the floor on sheets of newspaper because I did not want them to get dusty. The books already have dust on them. So, what was I protecting — the books or the floor? Who protects what and from whom can be a big circular argument.
I began to riffle through the pages of some; strangely, I had inscribed a book on Kali with a Bob Dylan verse:
"She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl..."
And it wasn't to be gifted to anybody.
There is not too much fiction. I like stories and am truly riveted by a well-told one. However, whoever says that non-fiction is not about stories? We live through the big and small events, and are no less than characters playing our parts — the parts need not be grand; in fact, they might be as props or bystanders. Bystanders are not to be sniffed at. Just as spectators make a performer, bystanders give an event meaning.
I pretend to be a bystander as I clear the shelf. The books become events — did Jesus live in India? And can that be somehow tied to the history of the Arab peoples. I noticed it then and I note it again. It is 'Arab peoples'. The plural of the plural.
Pluralism is a word much in currency these days. Pluralism, as these books reveal in their wondrous variety, is eclecticism...In this lot, i realised there was one book I had not placed there. My own.
Why we behave the way we do, says another book. I as bystander will never know because the 'we' here is iffy. Cultures can only be about mores, but behaviour is more driven by how we think individually.
Or how we break cages.
"My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms." (The Waste Land, T.S.Eliot)
As I return to the shelf, now clean, I find no butterfly flakes. No wings to untie. I shall just walk, instead.