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Thursday, February 10, 2005


I have oft wondered, futilely, as to where, the time I had in the past has sublimated into, my habits have melted away and what my own older self has metamorphosed as. In the good old days, I seem to have summoned up the energy to study hard and play harder, all the while reading like there was no tomorrow. While I clearly have frittered away some of these, what I can recall as the most glaring change is that I have not perused through a copy of the Reader’s Digest all these years, not till yesterday.

This seems inexplicable to one whose formative years were festooned with a bewitching array of the magazines, handy and petite as they were and have been. Of course, in the interim, I have also been gently chided about having read Femina and Treasure avidly, although I can now boast of a bag of household tips and tricks which I carefully conceal ( Ed—Lest you be asked to use them ). My braggadocio also extended to completing every issue between the years 1953 and 1990.

So how exactly, or more precisely, why has RD gone out of my life ? It’s not as if I have eschewed magazines altogether, just that they make less and less sense as time goes by. I mused that it might be a little better understood if I read the last issue at one go, and despite the most invidious invective hurled my way by a hectoring father and a conscientious mother, I hung on.

To begin with, there is yet no New Improved avatar of RD, a mighty sigh of relief. The team of Mohan Sivanand, Shanoo Bijlani and the gang appears well in command of their rock-solid ship. Except for some cosmetics like accepting entries through email, Net jokes and some abstruse attempts at keeping up the burgeoning number of professions, the magazine could have well been a copy from those of yore.
A festering argument echoed in the Letters to the Editor space, an article supposedly on beef , a reader protesting, the Ed relenting and apologising, and another reader berating the E for not standing tall and buckling under pressure.

And there somewhere lies my inability to come to grips with RD, and perhaps a veiled fear too. For as I would like to think that I have moved on, it clearly has not. This I aver in spite of it not being a zeitgeist kind of read, was never. The Humour in Uniform, Laughter’s the Best Medicine, Book sections do all point the same way. The tenets of morals and morality, family and filial values, duty and honour, attachments and bonds, seem well out of reach now. Where earlier I sought and found Hope, Warmth, Irony and Good Cheer, I now come up empty. I instead wind up with vacuous witticisms, simplistic and pointless narratives, bathos and a misplaced lightness of being.

Maybe I was at an age where I needed to feel these emotions, and now I have been wandered too far from the shore.
Maybe the joie de vivre and ebullience seem contrived and forced now.
Maybe I feel that the love for the less fortunate, which RD has always espoused, seems cold, unreachable and distant in real life.
Maybe I feel that there are a hundred different ways to tell a tale and fail to yield deeper truths.
Maybe a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries (S & G)


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