Of reading and images...

There is this image in my head that I haven't been able to get over. In fact, I don't really want to get over that image, and so am not trying to. Its the image of someone reading a book.

I first realized this when I saw a friend reading a book, by herself on the banks of the river Danube, in Krems, Austria, sitting on a wooden bench there. It probably is the setting, which was very pleasant (Krems goes down as one of the most beautiful villages I've seen, someplace where I felt closer to nature, which as we know moves me) or the day, which we spent in a comedy of errors in that wine country or it was her, her peaceful self, enjoying the nature and her book. It could also be because that is my dream - reading by the river, in pleasant weather. [This dream of mine extends into many things - me reading in a coffee shop, by the river with my feet in the water, on my couch with my feet curled up - basically, me reading by myself, anywhere, all alone], and seeing her reading there felt like it was being realized, only with someone else. What I was doing then? I was realizing another of my dreams - me photographing mother Nature in all her glory, walking by myself in beautiful aisles full of greenery with a river by my side. So that was what I was doing... in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, my heart full with happiness, and I turn back to see her reading. It felt poetic to me, and the romantic in me woke up then, I think. I took a shot of her reading, and she had no clue I was doing that. She continued reading till I was done shooting the beauty around us. She got up, put her book back in the bag, and together we went on for some wine sampling and liquor shopping, and on to catch the bus to Vienna. There it was, the end to that beautiful day. Only, it feels now it wasn't.

The other day, I walk into her house, and I see her, sitting on her couch, exactly the way I would've sat, reading her book, peacefully. She saw me get in, smiled and put her book aside, and we spent the rest of the evening doing what we generally do - general chit-chat, may be with the company of our favorite honey whiskey on the rocks, I don't remember the details.

This friend of mine is not even a serious reader. She doesn't make lists like I do, or give review ratings to her books. She prefers paper books to ebooks, and isn't a fast reader like me. In short, her reading personality is bang opposite to mine. Yet, its this image of her reading that makes me feel very happy every time it pops up in my head. Which is a lot, these days.
So much, that it has now become an image of someone extremely at peace, loving her reading, doing whatever she likes whenever she wants to. And just like the statement 'A thing of beauty is a joy forever', this image makes me happy every time I think of it.

And then this happened. This brilliant artist friend of mine drew this image of me reading. Without even having met me, he made an almost accurate picture of me reading. Everything about this picture is right, from the couch, to the wine, to the chocolates, to how I'd read and my hair. The only element that didn't fit was the cat, but that doesn't take anything away from the picture. It felt like a mirror image, just a cartoon-ized version. I couldn't thank the artist enough for this, coz he captured me perfectly! Someone who loves her reading, that's all!
[For the record, this image has gone viral, and the artist has given people permission to use it anywhere. So if you see it anywhere, I want to tell, rather proudly, that I am the muse behind this. There is also a similar image of a gentleman reader, but he drew based on another friend of his, who is a voracious reader himself]

This year has been good to be book-wise. I read a lot, some books will stick with me forever, the images they paint in my mind too. But amidst it all, it is these two images that will stay with me forever, I hope! Yes, I don't want to let go of these two images.


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