Sunday, July 10, 2011

Living Fiction

I have always fancied becoming a character in a book. There are some existing characters I want to be for a few moments because the complete novels are usually tragic. One can play these characters on stage, but I don’t like hearing my own voice. I want a silent bond with an author that inspires him secretly and dies with him, leaving behind an immortal reminiscence. I could be Tolstoy’s or Hardy’s hero or a minor character that leaves after a few pages. Or, may be the heroine of Chekhov’s shorter pieces, a frustrated housewife who ties her hair in a bun and wins a lottery or some Petersburg elite who can’t decide which hat to wear, the blue one with feathers or the pink one with bow tie?

Become Jude the obscure, sit in fields at night gazing at those yellow lights of Christminster that flicker like stars to share his dreams of intellectual triumph, not disillusionment. I want to be Madame Bovary on the morning she goes to meet her lover for the last time. I would take off my shoes and feel the cool grass, wet with dewdrops, be Austen’s Emma when she notices Mr Knightley’s grandeur in that final ball or Mrs Dalloway, walking down the London streets with yellow flowers that I crave to smell.
May be become Anna Karenina on the instant she comes out of the train and feel Count Vronsky’s eyes studying me for the first time.
I don’t mind being a minor character either like the dog in Turgeneve’s Lady with the Dog following my mistress everywhere or that drowning lady whose scream follows Jean-Baptiste Clamence in The Fall. Maybe become one of the letters sent by Atiya Faizi, with her scent enclosed and embraced by Iqbal’s handprints.

I can accompany Pinter when he weaves those threads of silence and words and console Kafka on those unhappy nights in Prague when he penned down the unsettling and unfinished stories. Perhaps, also buy him medicine.
And escort Virginia Woolf when she goes to drown herself with stones in her pockets. If I can’t talk her out of it, I will help her find clean stones and read her favourite passage from her book The Lighthouse as she walks into the river. I will open a casino where Dostoevsky will be returned all the wealth he loses in gambling. I don’t mind being one of the courtesans who inspired Ghalib or the married lover Mir Taqi Mir acquired in Agra.
My permanent abode, as a hobbit, will be a crevice in the Faraway Tree which Enid Blyton created. I will visit the towns that arrive at the tree-top, with my friends, Moon-face, Silky the fairy, and Saucepan Man.
Sometimes, when sitting in the coffee house behind Readings, I see Marquez working on his typewriter. I yearn to talk to him, but I don’t, in case some fictional landmark gets aborted due to this interruption and literary historians curse me… Perhaps, we can have a drink later. And when someone asks me if I know Marquez, I can say: “Yes. And we had tea together.”
First published in The News on Sunday


  1. The authors create such wonderful and fascinating characters that they are more interesting than real people specially Jane Austen , Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte.

  2. It is really a lively article to read and tells all about your favourite books



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