It’s wonderful what reading can do to your mind. As you leaf through page after page of a book, a novel, your mind can travel through space and time. Sorry space experts and physicists from around the world (I’m looking at you CERN), but readers have long been able to teleport and travel through time before you guys even have a working model, beating you guys in the race.
In the past three months I’ve travel to 1930s’ North Borneo and trek through thick jungles and wadded through mud and white rapids with Agnes, feeling her pain and misery and surprisingly, also her hope for humanity and the future through the detention camps in Kuching during the Second World War. I’ve also gone to Greece to witness the sights and sounds of a beautiful picture perfect Mediterranean seaport, though technically that island is in the Aegean, not the Mediterranean, sipping in hot coffee on the veranda of a cottage on a hillside facing the magnificent turquoise sea with K and Miu. And as a subsequent result of travelling to that Greek island, my mind took a detour to Mykonos, another island within Greek borders. As I travel the streets of Mykonos, hopping down the worn out stone steps and facing the hot summer midnight wind on an unplanned stroll, I was once again transported, this time to Nicosia. And now here I am, on Ledra Street in the middle of the 1980s. The street barren, deserted except for the barricade in the middle of it. Nicosia is a beautiful city, but is a sad city at the same time. Everybody knows about Berlin’s sadness and grieved for its partition and cried tears of joy for its unification, but less knew about Nicosia. Nicosia may be the last city in the world broken into two. It still is until this day, this very moment where I tap on my keyboard writing these words.
Reading sure is powerful and evocative, and is more so through the lens (or words to be precise) of good narrators like Agnes Newton Keith and Haruki Murakami. It opens up one’s eyes, both of the mind and the heart. It brings us to new heights, teaches us new things, and widens up our perspective. No wonder the first word that Allah sent to Muhammad (PBUH) through Gabriel was ‘iqra!’, meaning read. But now I have to stop writing and leave that boarding pass I use as a bookmark in between the pages of Sputnik Sweetheart as I have to get ready to attend a talk. But the lesson is learnt. Life is wonderful, so is reading.
12th April 2015