Sunday 12 July 2020

In which we re-read "1984"

The way I used to read when I was younger was with a certain breathlessness. To say that we (Several of my family members & I, trace the tree up and down, stick to the women, you will get the list) are addicted to books is an understatement. There are many moments when my need for a book is almost alongside my need for breath, for example. There are other family members who hold the book like a protective cloak. Any book, not like a singular particular book or anything.

Though I don't remember when I read 1984 earlier in my life, I know for sure that I read it with more than the usual measure of morbid fascination, and hurriedness. Like it was going to run out. You can trace this back partly to the fact that my sister & I were always in a race to finish books and borrow  new ones from Kavitha Circulating Library before he closed for the day (which he did whenever he felt like it - mostly when he ran out of cigarettes or felt bored).

I am a little bit changed now. For one, I read on my iPad. The Kindle App is everything to me. The font size is big, bigger, biggest (as the day proceeds and my eyes get tired). I ruminate a bit. I also fall asleep way more, nowadays. I own the books (or at least I can keep them as long as I want, if I get them on Kindle Unlimited). There is no fear of Kav. Circ. Lib. guy's wrath or fines. Plus my elder sister, likely to breathe down my neck and push me to "finish already, slow poke", doesn't live in Chennai.

In between my nagging for the usual things like bathing, working, folding the bed sheet, putting away clothes etc. I inadvertently challenged the child to a reading contest. I should have known better! Foolish, very foolish. Unlike in those days, the reading can be done simultaneously by all of us in the house now. So that was the plan. I was at 21%. It was a Sunday. Quickly, father and daughter said they are "in", and are taking me on.

Eldest member, i.e., my husband, read for 30s and fell asleep. I ploughed on valiantly from my 21%. But suffice to say, she beat me hollow and made lot of jokes about it and felt immensely smug. We occasionally sit shoulder to shoulder and read, I can make excuses that I have 100 things running in my brain, my eye sight is bad, she is hogging the backrest, blah blah, but the fact of the matter is she reaches the end of the page way before me and it takes all her patience to wait for me to swipe to the next one. I knew this, but see, this is a book not really in the style teenagers are used to, I was counting on that, for sure.

Oh well, we have enjoyed immensely the aftermath of this reading challenge session, despite me having lost so badly. NewSpeak is clearly twitter/social media language, and it's not as if we don't have our own interpretations, mispronunciations, and intentional-misuses of several words in several languages, our own private NewSpeak to to say. We have spoken about the characterisation of the women, actually the singular woman in the book. A bit unidimensional, isn't it? And some of the parts that are weird, like the long Goldstein manifesto - which was quite a pain (in our opinion). Finally, the ending. It scared her. It pissed me off and left me unsatisfied.

What do you all think? Can you speed-read 1984? Did you like the ending? Should we watch the movie? 

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