Some books have a wonderfully potent power of making you fall asleep. Then there are books that would take hold of your hand, heart, and head and follow you even into your sleep. In the past few days, I have had the misfortune and fortune of enjoying the companionship of both kinds of books. Of the first kind, I better not talk about for fear it will again pull the pall of sleep into my eyes and make me go lazy of writing. It is definitely the second kind that has inspired my muse, shaken my indolence off, and forced me to start typing today.
I love reading, of course. But even more, I love reading just before falling asleep. Or as I call it, I love sleeping on a book. Because then I know the characters and the world of the novel would follow me into sleep and colour my dreams with their beauty and romance. You may call it my magic charm for sweet dreams. Of course, like every magic charm, one needs to be careful in its use. It is probably better not to sleep on a gothic or horror fiction. A crime thriller might better be kept away as well. And you really don’t want to invoke the charm with a book as sad as Villette. It is sweet dreams you are after, remember?
Well, I believe the potency of this my magic charm increases with the simplicity of the book. And it is a very simple and sweet book I am enjoying the companionship of these days. It is the very famous and much read and loved ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I have been familiar with the name of this book for many years, I think. But for some reason, I never got around to actually reading it. And I suppose I probably still wouldn’t have picked it up, probably mistaking it for just another children’s fantasy book. But it came preloaded on the Reader’s Hub on my tab. And since it was there, bearing the rightful claim of being a part of my library, I was duty-bound to read it, of course.
Well, I am glad I did. I definitely would have enjoyed it more had I read it in my more eager years. But even now it is a delight to read because of the innocence and eagerness of the children that are its main protagonists, because of the mystery of the place where the story unfolds, and for the imagination and deep psychological insights of the author.
But besides all these, there’s one element of the book that rose up and took possession of my imagination while awake, and of my dreams when I slipped into the slumbers. It is the spectrum of nature’s delights that is spread out like a luxurious carpet across the entire ground of the book’s world. The book is not a fantasy. But it is this element that nevertheless makes it almost magical.
There are the moors spread around, luring little Mary to their vast expanse. There is the bright azure high above, glimmering in all its pure and fresh majesty. There are trees waiting for the spring to arrive and spring life back into them. There are saplings peeking out from the ground at the first whisper of the glorious season. There are flowers blooming, thousands of them! And there are birds and fox cubs that flit around in their merriment and are ready to bestow on you their companionship. And then there is a secret garden, tended for ten long years by nobody else but nature. And as soon as Mary and Dickon’s tender hands lend it their care, the garden bursts out into curtains and showers of bloom.
Just imagine the colours of the dreams that gave me their generous company after I laid this book (Ok, my tab) next to my pillow, sighed a wish, and let sleep give wings to my spirit and fly me to the world of delight.
Since the time I read Wuthering Heights, I have many times wished to wander around the majestic moors of England. I may never go there physically. But today, I did manage to ramble around, weaving dreams within my dreams and seeing visions only the mind’s eye can see. I don’t really remember what exactly I saw, but when I woke up, I could still feel warmed by the balmy spring air, full of joy as if I had just danced across the length of a rainbow, and invigorated by my long wondrous ramble across the wild moor.
It was so pleasant that it really would have been a pity to let go of the enchantment. So I pulled the dream once again to my ears, snuggled deep into it, and let the bliss wrap me in its happy comfort once again.
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