My friend Sunanina made a suggestion to fellow bloggers: Pick up the book you are reading and from the 12th page, choose a word and use it as a prompt to write your next post. Try to relate it in some way to the twelve months of the New Year. Don't forget to tell the name of the book to your readers.
Though I had voted for the suggestion at Indiblogger, the prospect of looking ahead into the next twelve months acted as a dampener. I am good at looking back like most failures. Unlike failures, however, I look back and grin. Because I know I defeated myself by colluding with those who wanted to defeat me. Like the penitent at the confessional, I should thump my chest and cry “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” That will be joining the enemy again. I’d rather take Don Juan’s advice to Carlos Castaneda: “... there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.”
And decisions belong to the future. Like new year resolutions. So, following Sunaina’s suggestion, I picked up the book I started reading after replacing Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red on the shelf and turned to page 12. Like an oracle, there it was, page 12, staring at me blankly.
|Page 12 is blank|
and the Title on page 13 is significant!
The book is Building Jerusalem by Tristram Hunt. It is a scholarly history of the British cities during the Victorian period. It is too scholarly for my taste and I might never complete it. A friend brought it when I was lying in a hospital bed a couple of weeks back with a metal rod screwed up in my ankle after a minor accident. After the first glance (which normally gives me an idea about the book) I put aside the book and carried on with Sapiens which I was halfway through then. O V Vijayan’s Malayalam novel Thalamurakal (Generations) succeeded Sapiens. Pamuk tempted me next. Incidentally, My Name is Red is a book which I bought some ten years back and beat at least three of my previous perusal attempts. The steel in my ankle gave me the required reinforcement and I’m proud of the accomplishment. 2017 is getting on well.
The blankness of page 12 fails to intimidate me. There have been too many blank pages in my life, erased by well-meaning benefactors who usually wore religious robes and ended up wrecking my ship on icebergs or icy rocks. Man is a vile creature, as Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov contemplates, and he can get used to anything. Even blankness.
In fact, I have fallen in love with blankness. It is quite like floating in the space without any gravitational pull. No chance of falling anymore. The mockingbird is not heard in that realm. There’s no need to blow your trumpet either. Bliss comes filtering through the rarefied air around you.
So, Sunaina, that’s my twelfth page. But let me assure you 2017 is not going to be blank. Perhaps, it’s going to be a clean slate, thanks especially to my Prime Minister who is out on a whitening spree with a quixotic zeal.
PS. I dedicate this post to Debajyoti Ghosh who started writing a 1000-word article which is threatening to become a 30,000-word book. I had intended this to be a 200-word post. :)