Ever since I can remember, I was always so fascinated with superpowers. Power Puff Girls, Shakalaka boom boom, Karishma ka Karishma, Shararaat, Sabrina, Spiderman. Be it magic or robotic powers or superpowers in normal humans, they always allured me. For the longest time, I wished to be like Matilda, focussing my sight on an object willing it to move, until my eyes started to hurt. And oh! how long I waited for my Hogwarts letter or wandered into different cupboards with the hope it would take me away to a beautiful faraway land with mysterious creatures.
Until one fine day when I finally realised I have got a superpower too; I just didn’t see it until then. My love for reading. What more of a power could one ask for? From time travelling to the 1800s and to the 2050s and the flying across cities, countries, even worlds without any tax, this was my superpower! I have seen the times of Shakespeare and also the times of Rabindranath Tagore or Lakshminath Bezbaruah. I have seen the cruelty of the Nazis through both the Jews’ side (through Ellie Weasel) and the Germans’ side (through Liesel). I’ve also seen the different perceptions of love. And people who cannot handle same sex or interracial love seem so funny to me because oh how undefinable love is, if only you read. It’s so beautiful. The power of reading. You get into people’s minds, people of different time periods, different cultures, having totally different mindsets and lifestyles. You are teleported back into time. You touch the words on your page (or screen) and imagine how many countless nights and mugs of coffee were spent over these words. You can almost see the writer on a chair, biting on his pen (or his nails if he didn’t have a pen but a mouse) because he can see it but he just can’t find the right words to describe it. You also learn to agree to disagree. You don’t always have to agree with what the characters in a book say or think but you see from where their opinion stems from.
So, you see, I may not have the superpower of reading minds, or seeing the future, or flying but I’ve got something that lets me do almost all of that and even more. This superpower resides in a trunk full of ‘Tinkle‘s and childhood books and in a cupboard full of novels. And I’m happy with my kind of superpower.
Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.
Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel