I’ve always had a knack of reading, rummaging through the pages to find beauty, truth and happiness. I have smelt the pages before perusing the text, wept for hours after reading unhappy endings, loved recycled, yellow pages more than anything in the world. Belonging to a family of voracious readers, I was always given more books to read than toys to play with. It became an inherent passion, to fall in love with words without distinguishing among poetry, vignettes, novellas, novels and so on. I’ve adored books so much to the point that before I knew it, I subconsciously chose English Literature as my major, fluttered to another city and in the blink of an eye, completed two years already.
I’ve been procrastinating for a while now and after I was asked to write this article I was filled with umpteen thoughts that made me realize how blessed this journey has been. Opting for English Honours was a blessing in disguise and I’ve been basking in the glory of this odyssey ever since its inception. This course has molded me into a completely different person, from a lover of literature to a connoisseur of arts. It has metamorphosed my thoughts, perception, interests and priorities. But all these have been positive attributes and for those about to begin a journey similar to mine, I vouch for its goodness. Below are some points that we all will relate completely to.
- The stereotypes were false:
General opinions about this course have always existed and the most common ones have been these adages, ‘It’s all about reading books’, ‘Dude, you just gotta read a novel and give the exam’. While these may seem true, this is not actually the case. The course is not about reading one novel per semester but covering a plethora of literary genres with ample amount of books under each of those. We don’t just read one book per semester; we read around ten to fifteen. Our exams are about writing pages after pages to the point that it hurts and a percentage above 60% is considered to be the best grade one could get. Hence, unlike other courses, we don’t strive for securing a good percentage every semester; we toil for acquiring knowledge in different eras of literary history.
- A Tumbluresque life:
I know I just made up that word but my artistic license will make up for it. We live for quotes that will take our breath away and make us crave for more. I have an unhealthy obsession for quotes that have made me addicted to Goodreads and Tumblr. I spend hours in my room just reading excerpts from books and suppressing the urge to post everything on Facebook or captioning it for an Instagram post. And all that has lead me to Tumblr. It’s an amazing platform where we can let out our thoughts without the fear of having a compulsive disorder. Our life revolves around Goodreads, Tumblr, berlin-artparasites and similar platforms which feed us literature in tidbits. We also don’t watch movies before actually reading a book and while watching a movie, we always annoy the person sitting next to us by pointing out the differences.
- Eras, not Genres. Kinds, not writers.
As an English major, I have formally given the habit of reading books according to particular genres. We read books according to eras be it Victorian or Romantic or Elizabethan and so on. We also don’t focus much on different writers, than we do on the kind of book. We don’t just limit ourselves to reading novels but graphic novels (read books that have pictures), epics (read poems that are too long to handle), dramas (read always fun to enact). And before I even knew it, my favourite books became Animal Farm and Lolita and Lord of The Rings quietly took a step backward in the book shelf. We also don’t read books from one perspective but see them through various lenses often noticing the subaltern voices and analyzing through their eyes. That’s just who we are, we notice the suppressed and strive to empower them.
- The festivals have changed:
As a kid, I was always excited about the arrival of festivals be it Diwali, Christmas, Holi, etc. You name it and I was enthusiastic about it. As a college student, I have been most excited about book fairs. My favourite festivals of the year are Delhi Book fair, Jaipur Literature Festival and National Book fair. Not just that, all my savings are spent on collecting books from the Sunday book Market at Daryaganj running around in scorching heat trying to get every book in my wishlist in 40-50 rupees. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for me to read them but the fact that they’re in my room comforts me. The love is irrevocable and obsession is hard to let go.
- Beauty is truth and truth is beauty:
This beautiful quote by Keats completely explains our quest for knowledge and truth. As an English major, I’ve seen my peers and I getting closer to nature with every passing day. This course has made me notice the beauty of sadness, destruction, death and even beautiful things like nature, landscapes and things likewise.
We’ve felt a constant urge to explore cities, know more about people’s lives and explore untraveled paths where our poetries could become true and the stories we’ve read would make more sense. That’s the joy of being an English student. And that’s the sense of completeness you’ll receive too.
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