Saturday, February 25, 2006
It’s been a while since I read the book. But I remember that I had sketched vivid images in my mind while reading it. “The Catcher in The Rye” means different things to different people. Over the years lots of people have sworn by this book – people both famous and infamous. The book has had an impression on me too, so add another one to the list (except I am still very ‘unfamous’). I had identified with the book so deeply at one point of time that I would imagine myself as Holden Caulfield walking down the streets of Manhattan and sitting in Central Park by the night.
But then it has been a while. That the images still lay intact in some deep recess of my mind came as a surprise to me. It came back to me suddenly as I walked down 5th Avenue somewhere near the crossing of 51st Street. I was alone on the street, and it was crowded as ever. Snow was melting around me, and the slush on the street made it difficult to walk. And then it came to me, like an epiphany, that it was just around the corner. A strange eery feeling I cannot explain. I walked on delirious with excitement. It had to be there, and there it was. Shining dizzily, dressed in snow. My Central Park.
It was all slippery, sloppery and I flip flopped several times trying to keep my balance. A carriage passed me by, pulled by one of those big hairy horses. A golden statue looked on at me with a sly smile. Children slid by on sleds and parents nodded approvingly. Lovers slipped their hands around each other and stared at the tall buildings in the distance. Freaks jogged in the snow (yes freaks, just imagine jogging in the snow in that kind of weather!). Where was it, where was the lake? There it was almost frozen. Where were they, the ducks? There they were, some of them, cringing in the cold, under the bridge. Is it real? Am I dreaming? My mind was going wild – Penn Station, Edmont Hotel, Greenwich Village, Grand Central Station, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was all in the book wasn’t it? And where was that “Little Shirley Beans” record that he had dropped that night when he walked out of the Wicker Bar and roamed all around Central Park. Where did you drop it Holden? It broke into pieces. Did you grab them all and take them with you Holden?
Where was Phoebe?
I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around . . . It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all.
There I was, all alone. Like I have always been. There I was walking down the street away from it all. The golden statue looked on. It was cold.