Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Old Friend

I have just started reading 'The Hobbit' for the second time. The last time I had read this book, I was 17. I guess I could go about by saying how naive I was then and how much I have learnt in the last 11 years. Unfortunately, that is not true :-).

The name 'Tolkien' meant nothing to me. I was volunteering for the hostel library. As I was shelving some of the books, a book fell down from the top shelf. It was dusty. Half of the front cover was missing. It looked as if someone had eaten it for breakfast. I am sure it would have tasted better than the hostel food. There was no back cover. It was falling apart at the seams. Why would anyone in the right mind even read this book ? Oh, for the dragon, maybe. On what was left of the front cover, half a dragon was breating fire. It was standing atop a green crystal thingy.

However, it takes a lot to capture the imagination of an indifferent 17 year old. I put the tattered remains of the book back on the shelf. For the next few months, it continued to gather dust. None of the patrons seemed remotely interested in this book. After all, what is a hobbit!!! and Tolkien didn't even sound like a name. Ah, the arrogance and ignorance. Traces of both remain to this very day. A few months later, I was ready to lock the library but had nothing to read for the night. A fire breathing dragon suddenly appeared on the horizon. I wondered. Is this the night to finally read this book and discover that it was the piece of trash that I 'knew' it was ? The boy inside answered. Yes. Thus it happened that I strode back to Room #149 with a fire breathing dragon under my arm. It was 11 PM. No, it really wasn't. I just have a sense of the dramatic.

It started with a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who was into sensible things like good food, good drink and parties. I wondered where the dragon fit in. Maybe it was just a cheap publisher's trick to lure otherwise reluctant readers. Very soon Gandalf made an appearance. The dwarves were next. By this time, a slow grin was spreading along the corners of my face. The characters were funny and interesting. Some of them even reminded me of old chandamama stories. The anticipation of the upcoming adventure started creeping in. Before I knew it, Bilbo was at the green mountain, trying to trick Smaug the dragon. It was great stuff. It was funny, adventurous and something else too. It was a great story. Pretty soon, it came to an end and I was left crestfallen. Tolkien indeed had a great imagination. More than that, he knew how to spin a good yarn. I couldn't sleep that night. My imagination was on fire.

In the next few years, I read Lord of the Rings. This story was far more darker. It seemed to me that the time for fun and games was over. I forgot all about the Hobbit and his story of how the road goes on and on from the door where it began. I had gone to the library yesterday to return Wizard and Glass. I was a little disappointed to find out that the next edition in the series was checked out. Forlorn, I was scanning through the shelves and my eyes fell upon the recorded version of 'The Hobbit'. Memories flooded in. I immediately grabbed it. A few minutes later, I started going down memory lane. Thorin Oakenshield and his band of dwarves, Dwalin, Balin, Ori, Nori, Bifur, Bombur, Oin, Gloin ....... Pure unadulterated pleasure. I haven't finished the book yet. Time to do that :-).

What are you gonna do ?

No comments:

This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.