There is no way of saying this without sounding like a regret story even though I actually am not. But I’ll admit to nights (here exclusively on WordPress only, if you met me in real life and tried to talk about this I’d give you a pompous response and walk away) when I’m going through a really good essay on a book I recently put down, or reading an interesting anecdote from the life of a Literature student, or a beautiful interpretation of an ordinary quote found between the yellow pages on my bookshelf, and it leaves me smiling, mulling over what I’ve just read followed by a sinking feeling which forces me to shut my laptop, turn my back towards the world and question my life choices for a whole of forty-five seconds before I forcibly snap myself back to reality.
Oh, I love books. I breathe my oxygen, preferably, if it has passed through a paperback filter. I cannot openly claim to be a “bibliophile” like most Instagram accounts nowadays do, not for the fear of being mainstream but simply because this connection has always felt more sacred. It has given me space and time and freedom. It has always only added possibilities to my existence.
On a bad day, and I kid you not; on a bad day, I will walk up to the second hand bookstore behind my college, enter, and let my eyes shuffle. Skipping from one title to another, rereading author names, running my hands through the bookshelves, breathing in a few, realising the innumerable possibilities lurking in that one tiny piece of land in one corner of the city, and walking out with a sense of exultation in my step and the hint of triumph on my face.
I think it’s beautiful. This intimacy has never been an illicit love affair (unlike my writing which I’m still shy about) It has been out in the open fields, watered by the warmth and passion of friends and family alike, on several occasions throughout my life.
Which is why when someone approaches me and asks, “Hey, why didn’t you pursue Literature?”, I am left a little contemplative and unsure of why I didn’t.
I am currently pursuing Mass Communication and I have no complains whatsoever, believe me. I enjoy those sleepless nights, the redundancy of the assignments, the definite uncertainty of the future. I even laugh at myself cursing a module I was incredibly excited about in the beginning of the semester. I do. But then, why these sudden bursts of longing and desperation? Why the second thought? Not about this choice, but the other one.
Like all Indian students, 12th grade was a long prep leave for what they call “life”. I had to make important decisions, talk about them in the society, worry and eventually go on to realise (and read 32013894 articles about) what a waste of time and effort it had been. It is during this so-called “crucial” phase that I eliminated a Literature degree for the practical reasons that had been passed down to me. Not that I know any better now, but back then I assimilated such pearls of wisdom quite blindly. I narrowed down my research to Media courses across the country by handpicking the relatively viable courses that could be placed somewhere in the same neighbourhood as that of my unsettled calling.
And, voila! Back to present day as I sit here typing and wondering what the purpose of this blogpost even is. The only reason why I suddenly got so unusually swayed by my emotions (enough to sacrifice my sleep and update this when I could be catching up on the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy) is that I am currently deprived of words meant for comfort and luxury. What I mean to say is that I have no book to read at the moment; the reasons for which are not important so we’ll let that go for the time being. And it’s figuratively sucking the soul out of me. But what’s worse (and about to contradict everything I’ve just implied) is that I KNOW for a fact that I wouldn’t love literature as much as I do right now if I were to study it. That venomous rut of assignments, tests, revisions would indefinitely shrink my capacity to fall passionately headfirst into this endless journey with no destination.
So keeping that in mind, what exactly is the issue here?