‘Catcher in the Rye’ had spoiled me. It is always a problem when you meet a great novel. ‘Great’ in the sense, how the novel had hit you. It wouldn’t have hit you, had it not reflected your persona with such uncanny authenticity. Similar to how Vadivel gets surprised when someone reads his mind-voice.
‘Velila laam kekkutha?’
Holden Caulfield was completely me. Holden felt out of place, just like how I felt with my surroundings when I was his age. But I was a class topper in school which managed to camouflage my alienation.
The alienation, however crept into the foreground, in a few years, when I could no longer keep up my academic form.
Enough about me and Holden. Get involved in a life-threatening accident and turn into an amnesiac. Come back one evening and start skimming through the soiled pages of your old diaries. Reading ‘Catcher’ felt very much like that .There is more to say about the book to do full justice to the impression it left upon me.
‘Ulagathula evalavo book um irunthum naan yen Catcher ah kadhalichen?’
The problem, however is that Catcher, set some kind of ‘standard’ inside me that I started expecting the same kind of satisfaction when I moved on to the next book. Even if the next book was quite engrossing, I kept missing and yearning for ‘that’ satisfaction.
I am reminded about a conversation I had with my Neyveli friend one night that began at 1030 pm and ended at 630 am the next day. The conversation was confined only to books, the Big Bang Theory, Marxism, Love, Vadivel and Goundamani comedy, food, cinema heroines, Narendra Modi, our respective dads, Kamal Haasan, Rahul Dravid and Indian Epics. The night left a warm and a stimulating ‘impression’ upon us that we desperately tried to replicate it the next day, assembling again at the same time for a new conversation. But we slept off at 11 itself. ‘It’ simply did not happen. As La Sa Ra points out in his memoir about conversations, that ‘impression’ is not so much a product of interaction of two deep, reactive souls as much as the inimitable ‘Grace of the Moment'(Andha Samayathin Magimai). The moment, here refers to the moment of the birth of that ‘impression’. That ‘stunning moment’ when we stumbled into finding so many things that were identical among the two of us. That moment when suddenly the rest of the world looked so tiny in the fullness of our association. That moment of sudden warmth that descended upon us, which only a mother hen could bestow upon its chick. No moment or impression, we finally admitted, could ever be replicated in its wholesomeness.
The same probably applies to the satisfaction I had extracted from Catcher. I didn’t stop however, and kept moving on to many more novels and each one offered a different kind of experience. There was no regret, after a point as I moved on and grew older with them.
One sultry morning, somewhere near Vandalur when I was reading during my daily train journey to office, I stumbled upon something. Something which I never thought I would face during my lifetime. Just like how you end up meeting someone who is as strange and long-dead as Martin Luther King during a movie screening. You don’t know how to react, since all your fantasies so far have trained you only to the extent of meeting Narendra Modi.
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ was that book. It came into my life, two years after I had left my beloved Catcher. It was another downright exhaustingly passionate romance that I had, which still fills my bone when I recall it nearly after a year. The genre was called ‘Magical Realism’ and I tried many more books of the same genre later, for a desperate encore – Gunter Grass and Salman Rushdie. ‘It’ simply didn’t happen again.
A few days back, someone asked me what my favourite novel was. I spouted instinctively ‘One Hundred Years’. What had happened to my dear Catcher? How did I dare forget her??
If Jessie leaves, make sure you don’t break down. Move on and keep working. You will meet someone else. ‘Trisha Illana Nayantara’.
Authored by Jeeva P.