Monday, October 17, 2005
The Quandary of Dimensions
When I first saw his book, 'A Suitable Boy', what struck me was its enormous size. It was a gift to me and instantly I had begun to think of the person who gave it to me to be a quintessential 'sadist'. Was I to read that book? I might as well practice weightlifting with it! The book contained 1600 pages and was around 5 cm in thickness! It had no illustrations but a solitary photograph of the author. He looked like a handsome debonair, but then he bore a diabolical grin that said, "Go ahead, read it”. I wasn't seduced by that smile. The book was just too thick for me! I had almost decided to let the book gather dust on my shelf when I was prodded on to read the book by somebody who had successful journeyed the entire thickness of the book and was so brainwashed by its contents that she couldn't stop praising it.
So I relented and began at the very beginning. I laboured on till I was around a cm into the book beyond which the book grew on me to such an extent that I could no longer live without it. I followed the book around, chased it everywhere like its shadow. The book didn't find a moment of peace. It was under constant surveillance and I had my eyes all over it. Had I spent a few more weeks reading I would have become a fictional character hidden somewhere within the 5 cms of the book. I confess by the time I finished the book, I found it too small.
When I first saw the author I was struck by his lack of height. I thought the possessor of the handsome face would be atleast 6 feet tall. He was hidden behind the furniture somewhere, and we could make out his approximate position by the commotion surrounding the spot and the entourage of press photographers that had encircled him. This is perhaps how physicists locate black holes in the universe - by the flurry of stellar activity around it! The black hole slowly made its way to the stage. He seemed quite uneasy, didn't know what to do with his hands, didn't know whether to sit or stand. So they gave him his book, and asked him to read.
He spoke. Eloquent speech and diction that was so British. He would use words such 'vicissitude' and 'foible' with such ease that it made the rest of us sound like ignoramuses. On stage we saw him grow in size. We saw the depth in what he meant. We saw his clarity of thought. We saw his acute observation of detail, the vast ocean of his knowledge. We saw his simplicity and we saw the complexity. We wondered about his chemical composition and his physical attributes. I couldn't believe my eyes for by the time he finished he was 7 feet tall! I am sure he is a quirk of nature.
What is it about sizes,
The length of shortness,
And the weight of lightness?
What is it about sizes,
The depth of gladness,
And the scale of madness?