-Riya Nagendra, II B.A. English
I stopped reading very regularly for a couple of years before college, the simple reason being that I didn’t know what to read. I was completely lost, and took to rereading Harry Potter, or struggling through classics on my Kindle (Anna Karenina is brilliant but I still have not finished it after nearly four years).
When you study literature, you’re forced to read. A multitude of different texts, from different places, written by people you’ve never heard of about things you never knew were even things! It’s exciting, it’s new and teachers constantly throw out suggestions for books. There’s no dearth of reading material – fantastic, yes, but I’m now so horrendously indecisive about what to read. I pick up Midsummer Night’s Dream, and no, I now want to read Taming of the Shrew instead — actually, forget both of those, I bought Joe Sacco’s Palestine six months ago and never read it, I’m going to finish it now — but wait, Munnu is so interesting and beautifully illustrated, and it just arrived, gosh! I have to start that.
But wait! I have exams in a couple of weeks, I should be rereading The French Lieutenant’s Woman, except I really don’t feel like it, so I’m just going to read nothing and feel terrible about it, while scrolling through memes on Instagram (which I should’ve stayed logged out of).
Life is tough either way, whether you have things to read or not. I do prefer having all this choice and a college library and professors’ suggestions to fall back on, but every indecisive and procrastinating bone in my body revolts. It’s my own fault. I digress, however — this bit of writing, whatever it is (an article? A blog post? An unpublished, untitled document to lie in the depths of my Drive till I decide to do a digital clean up ages later?) is less about reading or not reading, and more about how, despite all this choice, I am missing out on reading my comics.
Not the graphic novels – not Persepolis (of ambiguous pronunciation), or Maus, or Palestine (that I am yet to finish), but Asterix and Tintin and those beautiful series of Buddhist tales by S. Dhammika and Susan Harmer. In all my reading of Pico Iyer and Mahasweta Devi and A.K. Ramanujan and John Fowles and Toril Moi, I feel an intense longing for Herge, and for Uderzo and Goscinny, and Bill Amend, and Charles M. Schulz (who will forever be my biggest cartooning hero).
I miss them so much, and they’re all there, just a room away and I could open that ugly little yellow cupboard and take them out and read them, but also I can’t! It’s not because somehow comics are worth less ‘reading points’ than books with just text — I know better than to think something ridiculous like that — but because reading something you’ve read a million times already is a waste of time when you could expose yourself to all this new content. You could learn more about the world, expand your horizons!
But I just want to stop, and read Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield. But I should be finishing Munnu. But I should be studying Fowles. But I’m not doing any of those things — instead I’m writing about how frustrating this all is, and about what an immense, gigantic fool I am, and how after I finish writing this, I’m going to go and play Pokemon Emerald on an emulator on my laptop for some reason.
Goodbye and God help me.