In recent years I have been re-reading and rewatching some great books and movies. So I read through the Mahabharata, Asimov’s Foundation series, all of the Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown books, the Don Camillo series, Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Tolstoy’s Resurrection, and some more (quite a lot more, actually, and there were always new books to read besides). This, even as I realize ever more deeply how right Khushwant Singh was when he wrote (then approaching his nineties) that as one grows older, one realizes how many people one need never have met, how many meetings one need never have attended, how many books one need never have read. One must not only be lucky enough to be free to choose, but have the power of discrimination that allows one to choose wisely – a power that, sadly, is given to too few of us, or is lost too early in life.
And even with all the freedom that one wants and all the discrimination one needs, one must concede that life is too short to savour all its pleasures over and over. There are simply too many good books, for instance, that I will never have the time to read from cover to cover again. Shortly after the seventh Harry Potter book (The Deathly Hallows) came out, therefore, I read through the whole saga at one go, and determined to write down my own summaries of all seven books, so that I could at least have the pleasure of re-visiting them from time to time. My daughter, avid Potter fan that she is, helped me most ably from the start. Sometime last year, when I had reached the last book, the continuity of the project was broken for some now-obscure reason (we became ‘busy’ with other, more pressing things, I suppose, as most people do when they do not want to admit that they simply grew impatient and distracted…). I am happy to say that today we have picked up the threads again, owing to my daughter’s stern reminder, and the job will soon be complete – before the last movie (DH 2) comes out in July. And it will give us both, father and daughter, a great deal of satisfaction.
A civilized person needs to carry around a lot of books inside her head. It helps to refer back now and then to summaries that one has made for oneself. It is also a most delightful feeling that I no longer have to think that I did it for my daughter, because I did it with her.