In college, I met this Bengali Girl, Rhea, chic and elegant, who swooned at rock music, and danced to the football goals. I had not met a girl like her before. And the icing on the cake, she started going out with me.
As her boyfriend, it didn’t take me long to scourge her Social Media Profile to find out more about to her. Few facts came to the forefront when I stalked her on Facebook.
She was a die-hard Ronan Keating fans. And the song “The way you make me feel ..” could take her off her feet any moment. [Prepare Ronan Keating and Music references — Check].
She was an ardent football fan. [Throw Football facts around — Check].
During the football world cup of two thousand and seven, when everyone was rooting for Germany or Argentina or Brazil, she supported Italy. [Never, ever say the truth about your feelings about Italian Football team — Check]
I rejoiced for music and football were known territories. She seemed easy, I thought. But then I hit a roadblock.
While going through her Reading Interests I saw words, strange to my faculties. Authors or books, I couldn’t tell. I read them out loud. Tawl-Stawy! Naubaakoov, Kaa-kaa!! Dowsto-Vess-ki!!!
What words were these? I said, confounded.
A few seconds of google made me realize how out of league she was when it comes to what she was reading!
As it turned out, she was a hell of a reader. She was reading Dostoevsky and Kafka in the age when others were happy discovering Dan Brown. In contrast to this, my reading pedigree was limited to Sidney Sheldon and a few others, which I better not mention here.
To make the matter worse, one of our classmate, who somehow managed to appear almost always when I was with her, had similar interests to what she had. She liked this about him. “With him,” she used to say, “she had someone with whom she could discuss ‘literary’ stuff.” And then she would give me a ‘look’ a mix of condescension and disappointment.
This was my second push into reading. To start reading to impress her.
I started with Jeffrey Archer, and Robert Cook — at least these were not pulp in her vocabulary. Then I read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead by Ayn Rand — My first steps towards reading serious fiction. By the end of the first year, I had garnered, a respectable reading portfolio.
But here was the irony. The more I read to impress her, and in the process, did impress her, the less the time I had for reading. (She found it cute, this jealous and competitive part of me.)
Soon, with fluid mechanics and machine design threatening to pull my grades down to a level I couldn’t afford to, all the other things that didn’t’ involve my girlfriend, and studies, faded into the background.
Thus ended my second stint with reading. When I found books that were beyond sex and romance. Books like The Fountainhead that can make you stop and question your entire existence. Books like War and Peace that could take you to a different time, different world.