All the light they make me see

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va·de me·cum

(vā′dē mē′kəm, vä′dē mā′-)

n. pl. va·de me·cums

1. A useful thing that one constantly carries about.
2. A book, such as a guidebook, for ready reference.

[Latin vāde mēcum, go with me]

There are books you read and move on. Then there are BOOKS you read and go back over and over again. These books are your compass, your guiding light. They don’t give directions towards the end of the tunnel, neither do they tell you when you will arrive at the end. What they show you is this: the road ahead. They tell you: take one step at a time, one moment at a time.

If you don’t see a distant pulsating glow, it means the end is not here yet. And until you get there, the book is your torchlight, accompanying and guiding you with its fluorescent gleam. They are your vade mecums. Everyone has their own. Probably they were given to you by someone precious, or maybe the book came into your life at a precious time, or maybe it just reminds you of who you were in your glorious days or it can be any random book you happen to pick up. A happenstance.

I have four books that come to my rescue. I keep them handy, always close to me. Come hail, rain, or sun, I am comforted by their presence beside my bed, in my bag, and for the unforeseen unsettled hours, in my phone.

  • Quiver, Javed Akhtar: Devoid of sentimentality, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar’s collection of poems and ghazals seem simplistic on the surface. When you read the words out aloud and soak in their sounds, you will find hard-hitting truths peering from beneath the surfaces. Good, bad and even on those humdrum days, his poetry will light a spark in your head and give expression to thoughts that you probably had all this while but couldn’t find the words for.

Tumhe bhi yaad nahi, aur main bhi bhul gaya

Woh lamha kitna haseen tha magar fizool gaya…”

(This is a rough clunky translation:

You don’t remember, and neither do I

The moment that was wonderful, is lost and forgotten …)

  • Four Degrees of Separation, Rochelle Potkar: Reading Rochelle Potkar’s free verse poetry is like reading about my everyday life: the scenes in the ladies compartment of a Mumbai local, nostalgia for the distant childhood home left behind in some other part of the world, the ever-shifting attachment to the city we call home,  unrequited affections, chaotic families, the constant struggle to assert my freedom as a woman.

Why is the world telling us what to wear? All the time?

Why is this our most silent, daily question:

‘what to wear?’

And is it for ourselves or for someone else that we do this?”

-Skirt, Rochelle Potkar

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: I don’t know how to write about Emerson. I made an attempt once or twice. Can I just use one of his quotes to make my case?

From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all….When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. . . .”

Reading Emerson as thought-provoking as a conversation with an old teacher or a mentor who knows you well and gives you more than you asked more, albeit in a winding and convoluted manner, nonetheless useful.

  • Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed: I think everyone needs a Cheryl Strayed in their life. Or someone who is emphatic (mind you, not pitying or sympathetic) and tells you as it is sans any sugar-coating, yet not inflicting any injury within and without. Too much to hope from a person? Maybe. That’s why the book.

In an obscure movie called Next Stop Wonderland (1998), Erin Castleton, the protagonist played by Hope Davis, receives this wonderful piece of advice in a bookshop:

Bookseller: [after Erin has dropped the book] Don’t close it. You should never close a book until you’ve read something from it.

Erin: What?

Bookseller: Well, just a sentence or a word. It can be very, very revealing. Just read something, anything.

After this whenever she is in a dilemma, Erin takes any book close at hand, shuts her eyes, flips open the book, places her finger somewhere on the page, and opens her eyes to read the word right in front of her finger. This word gives her a premonition of what will follow next. It is not really the word that is doing the work. The word just sets  Erin off on the road she wants to take. It’s not the word, but what Erin interprets from and associates with the word that gives her a way out.

The word is just a medium. So is the book.  

An aside: It was while watching Next Stop Wonderland, I found Emerson.  On a series of disastrous blind dates—the result of a personal advert given by her mother—Erin repeatedly comes across a quote: Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Only the idiots that are her dates, misquote the line and attribute it to Karl Marx, W.C. Fields and Cicero. Then, on a serendipitous meeting with Alan, Erin throws the quote at him:

Erin: But wouldn’t you say that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds?

Alan: Well, actually, it’s “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” That’s Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Image: rttt by mclaugh528 , Flickr.

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44 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh how wonderful this is! Thank you very much. From now on, every time there’s a book somewhere at least I will read one word from it. What an interesting idea! This advice is perfect for my honeymoon reading thing 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂 Glad that this post added to your reading experience. Wish you all the very best with your honeymoon reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ankahee says:

    vāde mēcum!
    Sure.
    Would love to read such beautiful articles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you for the cheer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I went through your beautifully woven sentences and I couldn’t realise when did the end come. Because each of the line had my complete undivided attention. It is so beautiful, the manner in which you have shared your experience while transcending a journey through the pages of your memorable books. I absolutely loved reading it. And it is true that a companion should be one sans sugarcoating one’s emotions. It’s so beautiful that I am unable to express as there’s so much philosophy in those intriguing lines. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you so much for your wonderful words of appreciation. 🙂 It is quite a good feeling to know that your writing affects someone at so many levels. I think you might like reading Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things.
      P.S Had a peep in your blog. Your theme is stunning! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! You are amazing.. still “I have got promises to keep. And miles to go before I …..” You know the rest. Thanks for considering as a human, because most people don’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. kausambhi says:

        The journey is slow and satisfying, my friend. I’m sure you will get there. Human or not, the Universe has a place for everyone 😀
        “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”
        ― Carl Sagan

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You have a quote for every instance whatsoever. Well I feel so delighted to have found someone whose footsteps I can embark upon, beacuse it is so easy to find idiocracy in the world but wisdom falls from heaven and your words are so full of wisdom. For as was said, and so it is that “Men may come and men may go but ‘You’ go on forever.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. kausambhi says:

        That’s such a nice thought. I wish you the best…may the force be with you 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  4. pennygadd51 says:

    Your writing is stunningly beautiful. Perfectly paced, perfectly shaped, illuminating, persuasive, fascinating. I rarely read a blogpost more than once. I’ve already read yours three times, and I’m sure I’ll read it again.
    Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you Penny for your lovely words of appreciation. 🙂 Appreciations like these are heartening and motivates me to make this blog a comfortable space to share.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. modestly says:

    Thoreau is an old favourite of mine . I often take down my old copy of Walden. Occasionally I use it as a leaping off point for an illustration. I think I need to do one of my hand made books dedicated to his words!. I am re reading ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius – I love the Stoics! They really help me to live a better life. That is an amazing tribute to the written word!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      What a lovely coincidence! I’m currently reading Thoreau’s Walden (although I was supposed to pick this up months ago). I’m almost halfway through the book and it seems Walden will be a book I will want go back to again and again. I think it will soon will become a part of this list in my post.
      Just checked out your Etsy page, it’s a delight!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. modestly says:

        thank you!! I have so little time for my handmade endeavours, but always love it when I get the chance. It’s a constant endeavour to get the balance right of living well. I need to create more time for that pursuit!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. kausambhi says:

        I wish you all the very best in your endeavours 🙂

        Like

  6. Feel free to visit my website as well as my life, just click this link: https://myinwardvoice.wordpress.com/

    Thankyou!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tiyasa. says:

    This is a wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. fatamiii22 says:

    Nice topic and nice word
    Go ahead

    Liked by 1 person

  9. asmasyed482 says:

    Keep up the good work….. Would love to see more of such stuff

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. In love with ur words…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Like

  12. Mind captivating post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dave Dally says:

    That looks great! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ladyserenity92 says:

    How dreams come out of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      True indeed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. “The word is just a medium” Wow, great!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dreamsofhope9 says:

    This article truly touched my soul, and my first step towards my passion thanks enlightened

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Thank you 🙂 and I wish you all the very best

      Like

  17. Jaden Garland says:

    Reblogged this on JADEN GARLAND.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jojomoraa says:

    Why can’t I get the post itself?😢😢😢It is only the title, cover photo and comments that suggest an engaging post.Someone please help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kausambhi says:

      Hi jojomoraa. It turns out due to some glitches, the content of my entire post was erased. Thanks to your timely comment I saw the disaster that had happened. Panicked a bit. Did some search over the Internet. Found the solution to restore this post! So thank you again 🙂 Do enjoy reading the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jojomoraa says:

        Thank you.Now I can devour your other posts.And I have☺And they are beautiful to say the least.The emotions scored for me.Esp the pieces about poetry..oooh laalaa!!! Thank you for sharing pieces&fragments of your brain😄Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. kausambhi says:

        So glad you liked them. 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comments!

        Liked by 1 person

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