If I were living in a cold Western country, I would have described the weather saying that the snow is finally melting and giving way to green after a long winter. Only if the transition of seasons was that apparent in Delhi. Consider this- One day as you’re walking warmly packed in your woollens, you feel a little sweaty and realise that the sun is shining in all its resplendent glory above your head, you touch your hair and they are pretty close to burning. You go home and sigh heavily that summer has arrived and at night you go to bed in a cotton nightie. The very next morning, three-fourth sleepily you find yourself looking for that extra blanket that your mother left beside you (just in case) and your feet are cold like two solid icebergs. On opening your eyes, you realise that it was raining heavily while you snored your way through the night and the temperature is, how shocking, five degrees.
This volatility of the weather heralds the change of season where I live. If you don’t take into account an ugly row or petty, mean remarks being passed by someone or the other, the day is beautiful and its beauty rests in not knowing what colour the sky will be half an hour from now, whether the hovering clouds promise in earnest a spell of rain, whether the elusive sun will give way to the glory of grey skies (all the other colours come out so rich against grey). Yet, it is a pain to wake up at six in the morning for school and make it in the nick of time just as the gate is about to be closed. I crave for tea on seeing my teachers deriving sweet schadenfreude from my miserable state as I fix my eyes on the steaming tea mugs in their hands and they chat merrily in the staff room (Dear Teachers, kindly allow some exaggeration for imagery’s sake). The day slips into darkness early and if there are no deadlines to be met or nothing interesting to read on the Internet, staying awake past eleven-thirty is but a sweet dream. It is difficult to imagine that in a few months the ‘hot, brooding’ Summer will regain its kingdom and oust Winter yet again, though only temporarily.
But do seasons change the way you read? Do you think you read more in one season than the other? I guess I am inclined to read faster and more in when it’s not very hot, but at the same time seek refuge from the heat by forgetting about it and simply, reading. Presently, if you walk in my room you’ll find me engrossed in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park which I was prompted to read by the opinion of a friend that it is Jane at her best. Now that I’ve started I am set on reading all her works, I always feel energised and get chatty after reading her (I read Pride and Prejudice last year as we were to discuss it at the Book Club, which we never did, because these Chetan Bhagat types never, somehow, finished reading it). Austen left a brilliant body of work behind her; she was an author who worked all her life and didn’t quit even when very close to her death. Rather than idealising the personalities who embodied the characters in her novels such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Bertram sisters (and seemed perfectly cultured at first glance), she brought out their superficiality as honestly and wittily as no one else could. The preoccupation with marriage of the provincial gentry, the way Austen portrays it, is so strikingly similar that of the Indian upper middle-class today that I am left wondering how people of different societies centuries apart can resemble each other so well in their attitudes. Jane is my hero- she gives us girls the perennial hope that the Fannys and Elizabeths among us will find love and happiness notwithstanding the Mrs. Norris s and Mrs. Bennets who stand in our way. Everything about her inspires me to pursue my passions and do what I love best. Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Lady Susan– to sum up aptly in the words of Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe, “Every morning, I have woken up knowing that I will never run out of books to read. That has been my life.”