Winner of 3rd prize in the Memories from Books flash fiction contest
Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite! No matter how many books I read, Darcy and Lizzy refuse to leave my memory and thinking about them brings a smile to my face.
However, I did not read it out of my love for books or by choice or “Oh my parents encouraged me to read books since the beginning…we had a family where everyone sat with a book after dinner and all that jazz…!” That may work for others, at our place my parents always had the rhetorical – “Study something and bring good marks, every other thing can wait!” They did want us to read and “English newspaper” reading was supposed to increase your vocabulary. They subscribed to that too…but who reads news when a Shammi Narang or Salma Sultan would read them out to you anyway at 8:30 PM. Hence, playing deaf, we just did our homework to keep them somewhat happy.
Our post dinner evenings were spent watching Doordarshan, no matter what was showing. I actually distinctly remember watching Krishi Darshan too at times!
We studied to get good marks and ranks (yes they had ranks too back then) and had no “sports, vocabulary and art” classes in the evening. We played until it was dark and the news got over and waited for Fauji, Buniyaad and Hum Log. In winters, we huddled in an old rajai and in summers, we filled the water coolers to enjoy the TV break. And then there were power cuts at times….the whole episode lost and important story missed. Books actually did not figure in my scheme of things as you can see.
Life was just average, and Trishna happened….If it does not ring a bell you are either too young to have watched it on wooden shutter fitted black and white television or too old and have forgotten it, like you keep forgetting about your BP pills.
Ah Trishna…. I remember being glued to the TV set, our own or of the neighbors, it did not matter. Too young to understand the exact story, yet old enough to be able to watch and enjoy it. I waited for a week with baited breadth for the next episode…. At an age where romance meant nothing to me and characters and their depiction could not make any difference to what I watch (for we had only Chitrahaar as watchable); this one was a class apart.
A VERY handsome main character and a fiery heroine, they were a winning cast. The supporting cast did not matter much but I am sure they must have been good. It should be after at least good five episodes that I noticed what came at the end of the show. Adapted from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Now where had I read that exact thing some other place? Yes school Library….While I always got busy reading Archie and Jughead, there was this book indeed sitting pretty with Little Women, Charles Dickens and Wuthering Heights….I took the book out, it was thicker than all my text books put together! I took it to the Librarian impulsively.
“Now, do you want to get it issued?” she asked. Issued? I thought…. That would mean taking it home and actually reading it…should I not watch the serial instead? It was too thick and the paragraph that I read at the back did not make any sense to me at all. I returned after going through the sketches and admiring the book in general. In retrospect, I think I was just scared of its size and deep within I had wanted it for myself, like a personal copy.
Next episode came and after watching it, I yearned to read the thick book. I wanted to know the end before others knew it. I got it issued the next Library class. I remember reading it all the time at the dining table, to bed, in the school bus…a dictionary accompanying me all the time. Those were great times to read….nothing to disturb you in the afternoon when you can read uninterrupted…referring to dictionary learning more than just one word in the process… good old days indeed.
My affair for Pride and Prejudice did not end then. I re-read it after a couple of years to get better understanding of the story…and then again to get the humor and then again, to admire the great work it is! I still read it…and every time I do, I fall in love with it.
There is another connection to this book and Trishna, and that is my first job and its interview. I was an Architecture student in an Engineering College and no Architecture students appeared for campus selection. However, I did appear for one just for fun. I cleared the written and at the time of interview told very clearly that, I knew nothing about computers and hardware besides the basics done at school. They understood and asked me about current affairs and Architecture in general. I knew this is just chit-chat and I am getting nowhere close to the job. The last part of the interview was the clincher….
‘Hobby?’ – ‘Reading.’
‘Favorite Book?’ – ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
‘Do you know of a famous Hindi serial based on this book?’- Do I know? (you got to be kidding me!) ‘Yes’… (hiding all excitement) Trishna.’
‘What do you think was the USP of it, in your opinion…including something that you noticed was different?’
‘I always imagine a tall, brooding Ok looking man for Darcy, but the lead actor in Trishna was way too good looking!’
The room broke into laughter….
‘If you tell me the name of the guy who played the lead? I would know you are a fan of the book and the serial?’
‘Would I get the job?’
“You are hired!’
Rest as they say is history!