Posted in Musings

My KitKat Books

There are three kinds of books. The first kind form the majority, novels or stories that we read, and then largely forget about. The second kind carve a corner of our heart out and fills it in with quotes, smiles and dog-eared pages. The third kind are rare – books that make us wish they would never end. I call them my KitKat books.

When I was little, our family typically shopped for groceries at the beginning of every month, and made sure it lasted throughout. My share of the grocery list was one long, flat, red ‘family pack’ of KitKat chocolates. I grew up in a household that struggled financially, and years later, when I read Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, I remembered those monthly rations of chocolate that I got. The pack would hold six wrapped KitKat bars, and each bar would come split in their signature fashion into two sticks. Twelve narrow sticks of chocolate in total to last me a month. A normal child might consider eating them all together, or perhaps a couple every week, but not me. I would break each stick into half-inch cubes and have one cube every day. Looking back, I am amazed at my self-discipline. By the last day of the month, I would have a whole bar left, which I would consider a reward for my resilience and munch on happily.

Whatever self-control and patience I exhibited as a child faded along with my childhood. I am indulgent when it comes to things that I like, and no packet of snacks finds its way back to the pantry once opened. This obviously has to do with the fact that I have money now, along with supermarkets that run into the night. My tummy is beginning to bulge and my clothes have started to strangle me, but that’s a post for another day. And as with all excesses, chocolates no longer feel as delicious as they did back then.

As I mentioned in a previous post recently, calm and casual reading has never been my forte. But it just so happens that once in a blue moon, I come across a book that I love so much that it has me going slow on purpose so that I would get to relish each word and sentence for as long as possible; knowing full well that I couldn’t simply hope to go out and grab another bite once this was done, because they are so precious. I savour them the way I once did my KitKat bars. I would feel a compelling sense of sadness about the inevitable end of the book, and will myself to linger over every page. The first time the feeling took a strong hold was with the collection of short stories by Ken Liu titled “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories”. Each story was so splendidly penned, and oozing with such magic that I kept looking forward to having a taste every day.

I feel the same with the memoir by Balachandran Chullikad, “Chidambarasmarana”. It is not oft that you find someone divulge their dark raw thoughts and painful yesterdays with abandon, and ironically, you find yourself drawn to his deeply troubled insights, and stark remarks about himself. You find yourself admiring his courage in baring himself, and wonder about the full, wretched shades of his life and the human inside the poet.

I get lost in yet another story out of his memoir and find myself contemplating about beauty and poetry and tragedy and the subtle nuances of human existence – shades of his book, shades of all our lives. The little things that go on around us that fit into bottles of sunshine, and cast rainbows against the odd tear. If only we could all be this forthcoming and unabashedly honest about ourselves.

I force myself not to move on to the next chapter and close the book, saving it like crunchy cubes of literature to relish another day.


A wayward thinker hiding behind the facade of necessary courtesies

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