Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Birthday. A Book

I have a young cousin, an offline version of Wikipedia. The more I meet him, the more certain I am of having accidentally missed a few crucial years of basic education. This super smart kid turned a year older recently. And the onus of buying him a present to match fell on my muddled shoulders.

Now here's a kid who lives for science and logic. For strange mechanical things he calls toys. For gadgets and computer games. None of these are words from my world. What do they mean? Where are they found?

I was stumped. Stumped till a timely bout of panicked inspiration hit me. And in his world, full of 101 questions, Pokemon and Midtown madness, I planted a magical tree.

If you've read the Far Away Tree Stories, you know just what I mean. I read this book as a kid and I still remember every twig in the story. I remember walking around trees, wondering which one was the magical one. Peering up in search of magical lands floating by. And waiting for strange creatures to show up and take me on a tour of their homes, hidden on the branches of the tree outside my room.

That's the beauty of a book. It's so much more then just a book. It's a whole lot of brilliance bound between the covers. It's a window that opens up to the past. To what life was before the arrow keys and the space bar. I suddenly had the urge to prise the old window open. And let the fresh breeze flow in. To let it drag me out of these four-cornered rooms of logic we are caged in. And to jump out and explore again. Those strange strange worlds of childhood. Did we live in those worlds or did those worlds live with us?

Let’s go back to the old times. A world of magic and wonder. Let's dump logic in the background of reality and get carried away in a swirl of make-real.

Instead of furiously clicking at an immobile mouse, your finger chases a crawling string of words that push each other endlessly across yellow doggy-eared pages. And your mind stretches and unwinds as little by the little the story unfolds.

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