IT was on my birthday friends called asking, “What shall we get you Bob?”
“Books!” I replied.
“Books?” they asked, “just books?”
Years ago as a child; evenings at home after sunset were spent in a book. All four of us; dad, mother and my brother sat together in the living room engrossed in our reading.
Right opposite our house lived a family and every once in a while were heard angry words erupting either from the old father, a widower, to his daughters or shouts from the pretty girls to their boyfriends who came to visit regularly.
“Why do they fight so much?” I asked dad one day.
“They should learn to read,” he said philosophically.
I’m not sure that simple rejoinder my father gave, could have stopped all the battles and skirmishes taking place across the street, but I do know there was a sense of peace at home as we buried ourselves in our reading:
Not too pleasant episodes of school and the perils of the next day with my teachers were forgotten as I followed the adventures of my hero or heroine. It was like I entered the pages and got out only when dinner was served, after which I got back again!
What a world is the world of books!
Today, I watch children sitting in front of TV sets glued to Tom and Jerry, later to comedies and graduating to thrillers and romantic serials. There’s a look of intense concentration on their faces as they watch very real actors do seemingly very real things.
How would my poor book compete with such?
How could mere words take on pictures so explicit, so real?
The child looks up and asks, “How?”
Ah, the magic of words! Where the vast expanse of your mind is the screen the writer uses, where with powerful language that explodes, he ignites your imagination with thoughts, ideas, scenes of adventure or beautiful romance. You don’t need to see lover cry to feel his pain; you cry as same pain tears out in you! Each page brings out picture more alive, vivid and real than any a movie screen can ever hope to imitate. The screen imitates life, a book is life itself!
An oft repeated phrase is that pictures speak louder than words!
Maybe they do; but it is the empty rhetoric of a good orator who possesses excellent tone and voice but lacks content. Ever seen photographs of an accident? You look and feel sadness for the moment, but what lasts are the words that describe pathos and tragedy! Those words stay as picture fades!
And if today we have a world which is ever ready to raise fist and brandish arms, maybe like my dad said years ago, ‘they should learn to read.’
There’s peace in books.