The Safer Side
I had the pleasure of reading The Phoenix and The Carpet by E.Nesbit. (If you haven't heard of this particular author, and are still interested in children's literature, I suggest you start with Five Children & It which was a great adventure!)
While the five have great fun in the first book (It), they also learn a few lessons the hard way. They seem to have perfect lives - bored out of their mind, they live in a picturesque cottage, with a nice sandy, gravelly backyard. They had good thoughts and all-in-all it was quite pleasant to read. The other book however (Carpet) was somehow disconcerting to me - the poor lost soul who came upon it's doors seeking solace for all the pain it has gone through.
It all began with a wonderful day, spent in Malleshwaram (followed by a once-in-a-lifetime experience of a play - more on this in the next post!) where we musketeers (we were three) wandered amid dusty bookshelves, and read each title with a warm, cozy feeling inside. I looked forward to the next day where all I would do was curl up on my bed, reading and eating alternately and with alarming frequency. This is where I chanced upon this book. Thanking my stars (and thanking P for choosing this location) , I immediately grabbed this book. (Top contenders were Artemis Fowl and A series of unfortunate events)
Over the next week, it took all my effort to be able to read this book. While travelling, of all the other people in the surroundings people singled me out to make passing remarks (usually about traffic), and to make small chat with them (usually about traffic). And then it got too dark to read. Coming home exhausted, I would just shove whatever was made into my mouth and fall asleep. I began staying up an extra hour just to read a few chapters. (If only I had put in so much effort to actually study something!)
Finally yesterday, I pulled an all-nighter and finished the book! However, for the first time perhaps, I did not feel like I had drunk a warm cup of hot chocolate. I felt like all those magical and wonderful things were hardly treated well. And I was mightily annoyed by the infernal children responsible for living my adventure. I understand that they are young, but really? Are children this dumb? You had a Phoenix! A Phoenix of all things, and all they did was rant about it, and wished it gone. They whined an awful lot about every damned thing. Their mother hardly seemed any warmer, which probably explained why were they so self centered. Most of their (mis)-adventures were caused by them! And they conveniently sent the Phoenix off packing, and ruined the other magical item, and then in the end they felt a little sad, mostly because their fun would be over. Selfish much?!
It felt a little strange reading this book, maybe because I felt like this wasn't how it was supposed to end. It was far from a happy ending in my eyes, and I felt like I didn't get what I wanted from this book.
This made me think, what would I change? Why wouldn't I let ignorant children have their fun in the only way they know? Why did I want things to be happy, and safe, and always great? Why did endings have to be special, and neatly gift wrapped? Perhaps I adored the safer side of things. The happy endings represented something that never existed in my world. Maybe I like fantasy because everything could be set right, no matter how bad it was. All this said and done, would I read this book in a new light? I doubt that, for no matter how biased I might be, I still want my books to be a reflection of a perfect world.
Not Orwell perfect though. Just saying.
Until next time!