I worry for the infant. I have caught him staring at the TV screen, playing with (and eating) the remote on more occasions than I can count on his tiny toes. I have watched him watch his dad as he goes on about vanquishing the populace of strange lands with his PS3 controller(with headphones on of course; he claims he doesn’t want his son to ‘hear violence’).
And so, I worry. I worry that, if the infant continues at this rate, one day he will grow up and read Chetan Bhagat’s novels and think they are literature. Who knows, by the time he goes to school, a few of them might also make it to his syllabus (you never know).
So I am going to do what might seem pushy or ambitious. Get him to read before he even begins to sit up. Introduce him to the world of Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, JD Salinger and all my childhood favourites, so that, at the very least, he is equipped to tell the difference between good writing and bad writing. So that the only reason he buys a book is not because it is priced at Rs 65 (or whatever is the current discounted price of Bhagat’s books ), but because it stimulates his mind, because it makes him want to look at things in a different way, because it is written in a way that makes him fall in love with writing (again, I am not skewing him, but you get my point).
Yes, I know I am fast-forwarding his babydom here, but if I don’t do it now, it might have dire consequences.
I don’t know Chetan Bhagat and have no intentions of knowing him. I haven’t read his books and have no intentions of reading them (although I did read a few pages of one of his books, pages so eminently forgettable that I don’t even remember the title of the book). Even the fracas over 3 Idiots doesn’t make me mildly curious about Five Point Someone.
What I do have a problem with is Bhagat comparing himself to Tolkien. I have a problem with the bigness of his head taking precedence over the bigness of his writing, and (in his own words) him saying, “They don’t know how big I am amongst my fans,”...
That, to me is a writer’s greatest undoing. I have a problem with a writer putting his mouth before his craft.
But there is still a lesson here. What I would like my infant to learn from Mr Braggart (sorry, couldn’t resist) is the art of positioning. The art of creating an audience before creating a product. The art of brand extension and regurgitation. The art of mixing, matching, recycling, and starting all over again. The art of creating readers in a generation where there were none.
Never mind if they are readers whose childhood completely bypassed reading. They are still readers, right? So who am I to judge?