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LITERARY CHARACTERS AND THE REST OF US

Literary Characters and the Rest of Us

By Idris Katib

Living in literary world is another world entirely. It is different from the general world, our world. Our interests are not literary people's interests. So are theirs not ours. They travel into their own world of meditation, deep thinking and analysis of all that exists. They belong to either of two poles: those of science and those of literature. They are both researchers who unravel what we fail to unearth. They put on their thinking cap and see for their readers and the world. They critique the society, x-raying the realities in their own world. Our perception may be their reality or vice versa. They see where others are blind. They wake up when others are sleeping, snoring away. They walk where others are wobbling. They fly where the rest of us crawl. So, they are far away to find out for us.

Writers are interesting people to study. They care less about materialistic things of life; at least many, conservative of them. They dwell on issues both general and specific. They delve into issues of ostensibly lesser value. Many writers cross their t's and dot their i's yet they are subject to criticism. Others bring the hidden pictures to uglare of the world. They instruct. They teach. They impact what they belief in--monotheism, trinity or agnosticism! They target their readers' minds. They evangelise many. And they get hold of them ! Some writers crave for change especially in political context. They use their words or graffiti to pass their messages to the constituted authorities. With their pen, they engage the fiercest oppressor. With their words, they awaken the consciousness of those in slumber. With their ideas, they conquer the world for centuries. With their thinking pen, they liberate the oppressed and naive.

Bookworms are interested in reading anything they come across in print, on audio-visuals, on the Internet screens and during discussions. They peruse bill boards, sign posts, hand bills, posters, books, newspapers, office notices, internet phones, just anything readable.They learn and learn from good, bad and ugly writings and paintings. They sip, they tap from any iota of knowledge in print, whether in hard or soft copies. The ocean of words, phrases, clauses and sentences gives them no phobia but joy and attraction.They keep their literature materials as though their lives depend on them. Don't they!

They talk with knowledge, hypothesizing solutions to issues. They make references to philosophers,scientists, theorists, authors, public speakers, educationists, leaders, inventors, maestros, sages, gurus and experts. They talk about literature, science, philosophy, law,geography, diplomacy, politico-economics, information technology, aeronautic engineering, mechanised farming and all subjects of knowledge. They are students of knowledge and that of university of life. They study both the four walls of the classrooms and the outside world to receive and impart knowledge. Such will prefer to concede all their materialistic endowments than a book from their library.

A bookworm once related that when robbers invaded his apartment, he was most glad they did not touch any of his books although they carted as much as his materialistic belongings as they desired. When they departed, he said to those around him "a bunch of fools did not touch a single book from my book-shelves" and continued that " if they had been reading in the first instance, they would not have burgled my house for materialism". To him, good resources of the world are buried in good books and transferred into the brains of those who seek after them.

Good writers are bookworms and they have their characters. This is so as the two are inextricably intertwined like conjoined twins. But in-between the writers and bookworms are speakers. Good public speakers hatch out the briefs of the two. Oftentimes, good writers are not good public speakers as one quality overrides the other.Ditto for bookworms. But the trio makes meaningful impact on their audiences.

Broadly speaking, two categories of writers abound: those who write to pass a message and those who write for monetary rewards.

We were tutored in publishing that writing/publishing is largely audience-driven. This is so since writers are bound on social responsibility. Those who write to pass certain message, didactic or political, think they owe the society ( or even themselves?) a duty to do so. But there is the other divide who hypothesizes that writers should be rewarded for their intellectual property, their initiatives, their guts, their gifts, their values added, their dexterity and so on.

Writers who are bookworms get deep inspiration. They agree or are averse to other authors but they innovate theirs.And they pen what others have not explored. They illuminate the minds as the sun does the globe. They endure even when they are long dead. Their ideas and thoughts speak from the shelves and the living brains that have sipped them. Their words travel millions of miles entering discusses and decisions of peoples around the world.

Writers and bookworms reflect, they think, they argue, they conclude, they coss-reference, they suspend and contact sources. Even in their dreams, they continue these activities. They jot down, select literature materials, assess people's IQs and are rich, not necessarily in terms of their cheque-book, but in ideas. They cut across categories of people, upper class or lower class but they are educated as they oil the wheel of their intellectualism from time to time.

The rest are the audience, the spectators, the onlookers. We adore our clothes, make-ups, perfumes, cars, jewelry, computers, telephones, architectural pieces, upholstery, social functions and all sorts. We love to look good physically and tend to associate with the "rich" in terms of cash they can lavish on us. But we detest to absorb more knowledge as much as we to read or write copiously since this, to us, does not translate into wads of cash. We watch a lot of home videos even when the script-writer is a moron. We keep on carousing monotonous ideas of mediocre producers who churn out mediocre products.

The rest of us, who at least are of higher school attainment, abhor reading few lines per day to keep our intellectualism going. So, gradually, we become illiterates as we drift towards the pit of ignoramuses. We give excuses that since we are not in academics, education sector, teaching or counselling, we do not have business reading anything. But we still wield our prestigious certificates and brandish our tongues over our shoulders that we possess these certificates and that paper qualification. Most young graduates, parents, politicians, business people are victims of this habit.

The rest of us garner more certificates for upgrading and promotions in our work places. We do book-cramming for our examinations to attain our
'papers' rather than for functional knowledge. We have more mirrors and pairs of shoes in our homes than literature materials. That's why a lot of things are hidden from the rest of us. The secret of life and the unseen. Those who see what we don't see, who know what we don't know, who talk what we don't fathom are not in the category of the rest of us.

Is the race between money and education ?

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