though she’s ever neglected,
blossoms the poet.
Photography, nowadays, is thriving as a hobby. I look around and every other Tom and Dick seems to have a DSLR, caressing it as it’s their life’s dream to caress it. Some of those wannabes, though, turn out as good photographers. In fact, they’d become so good that people start paying for them to come take pictures at their wedding. Or pre-wedding, or pre-engagement, or maybe even the pre-proposal—preposterous though it sounds.
It’s a good thing to earn by doing what you love, yuo might think. I thought so, too, until I looked into the eyes of a professional photographer at a wedding yesterday.
We weren’t the early birds, meaning the new couple and the old photographers had already gotten through at least a hundred people posing on stage with shiny white teeth, pouting lips, flashy jewellery, and studded dresses. The bride and groom though tired, received us with happy faces, but the photographer and his accompanying videographer weren’t tired—they looked bored, instead.
Drooping eyes, stifling yawns, dawdling walks, forced patience—they symbolised everything that points to someone who’s been doing what they’ve been doing for so long that it speaks to their soul no more. Then I wondered: At what point does doing what you love become such a vexing routine that you no longer love it?
Perhaps the photographer had reached it, the tipping point. Perhaps the idea of capturing blooming faces, grooming parents, ruling aunts, and unruly children didn’t thrill his heart anymore. It looked to me like he wished to be anywhere but there. And I felt sorry for him.
He would’ve had a phase in life, young and excited to achieve what he has now. He would’ve spent eager hours in the darkroom looking for something that would light up his life. He would’ve tossed and turned in bed wondering if his applications would get through, if he’d get the job as a photo journalist or even an assistant; he would’ve thought it a great opportunity to get coffee for a popular photographer, just the idea of being in close proximity with them keeping him up till the crack of dawn. He would’ve dreamt awake, slept in dreams, and waited with bated breath. He would’ve once given anything to have what he has now.
Except now, years later maybe, he has not a sliver of joy in his eyes. Perhaps he didn’t sleep the previous night, perhaps he spent it in the darkroom in his studio developing photos from the previous wedding, perhaps he was trying to figure out how to make space in his calendar for all the people booking his service. Perhaps the blooming faces and ruling aunts got on his nerves now. Just perhaps he would now give anything to give up all of it.
That’s what his eyes told me during the couple of minutes we were on stage, holding our not-so-natural smiles for the photographer to capture the moment and the videographer the moments. By the time we left the stage, the photographer turned his attention to the next group, our faces, our smiles, and our moments once a source of pride, now just a fleeting flash in his memory, from an event he cared naught for.
We were in Thekkady, enjoying the monsoon showers and the chilly breeze that came with it. Wondering what to do for thrill, we wandered through the shopping street when we noticed a poster from the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre for a show of traditional Kerala fighting techniques. It was rather a pricey ticket, which is understandable since they target rich tourists, but I had my doubts, too, about how much I’d enjoy it.
After about a half hour of sword and stick fighting, the team moved on to fire. I sat up excited. What spells dare and danger better than fire? And boy, what an act that was.
Quora has become a place where you can ask weird questions without worrying about sounding foolish. For instance, I was surprised when I saw that someone had asked why they should study English literature at all.
Having just completed my bachelor’s degree in English literature, I almost laughed out loud. When it comes to studying literature, there are more reasons to avoid it than there are reasons to embrace it.
Literature, like medicine and engineering, isn’t for everyone. When you study literature, you become the dorkiest person in your social group. Friends and family make all sorts of assumptions. Your friends think you’re scared of sharp tools, bad with numbers, and worried about sun exposure. They judge you as introverted and that you’re lazy to leave the couch. Oh, and you’d love your coffee black and might be a good chef, too.
You didn’t get enough marks to enrol in engineering. You can’t get an equation to equate. You’re just a smart mouth who plays with words and thinks they’re cool. You’re too dumb to memorise clinical terms or understand chemical reactions.
You like the smell of old books, instead.
Lots of graduates nowadays don’t get jobs, but as a literature grad, you won’t even find a job description that matches your expertise. No employer thinks that someone who’s spent years poring over Shakespeare and Coleridge and Yeats could offer anything valuable at brainstorming sessions inside corporate cubicle farms. Good luck finding a job and keeping it for more than a week. And retirement is a luxury you can’t afford.
That’s how most of society sees us literature majors — that we’re too weak to live in the real world because they dabble in the glories of the past.
Humanity hates us Humanities folks because we look back and ponder on the evils we’ve etched in history. Nothing much has changed since the Victorian Era. If you’ve studied the Humanities, you should know that in the real world humanity crushes humanity.
That’s why you shouldn’t study literature. You have nothing to gain from it. You get a zero return on investment, unless you count the glasses you’d be wearing by the time you graduate and the social awkwardness that clambers onto your back every time you leave home.
To everyone wondering aloud why they should study literature, I’d say don’t. If you must have a solid reason, reasoned out, mapped out, and planned out, you shouldn’t be studying literature anyway. Because no one should study literature unless it calls out to them. Remember, literature chooses the student.
English, for me, is a second language. A lot of the things that come as instinct for native speakers come to me only if I’m attentive and careful. And every day, every time I speak, I strive to get to right. I consider it my worst nightmare if I make a silly mistake that I know I shouldn’t have. And that obsession has made me who I am today: a sucker for proper grammar. Whenever I hear someone misuse grammar rules and diction, it makes me recoil in horror.
Nowadays, though, people seldom speak with context. It’s all just text-speak. Consider Lol, TGIF, and ROLF. To me they’re just random letters put together, but to a lot of people, these are essential words in a conversation. Even without much of an effort, these words have crept into our everyday communication. HashtagReality. And anyone who doesn’t know the meaning of these words are old-fashioned and unfit for the age of the social media, where people speak face to face like they speak on Facebook walls.
Facebook, in particular, has kindled this rise of new words and trends. So much so that, “facebooking” has become a verb and “friending” someone on Facebook is an actual action. Earlier, when someone moved into town they’d say, “I’ll make friends.” Now, though, “I’ll friend you.” Friend has become an easier term, a more ‘natural’ verb. On a side note, though, if anyone ever says that to me, they’ll never be my friend. I’ll accept their request on Facebook, but will never consider them a friend. Which leads me to say, Facebook has decimated our language in such a way, that even “friend” doesn’t mean “friend” anymore.
Here’s the weird part, though: A lot of people don’t even know that there’s another word for “friending.” A word that’s been around even before Facebook came into the picture. It’s almost as if people don’t remember the word, “Befriend” anymore. I think it’s a beautiful word. It fits the situation, and we should use it to say we’re adding someone as a friend on Facebook. I don’t see why people choose to cut out two letters of the word — which are not even prefixes — for no proper reason. Maybe this lack of basic knowledge is what’s making us a dumber generation. We only know words that appear on our Facebook feed and news that show up under the Trending section. We neither think beyond that nor do we explore further than that.
The way our current world works, if we don’t know the proper word for something, we can create another. It’s fine to create words at will. Will Shakespeare did it, we’d argue. After all, the main purpose of language is to communicate with each other. As long as the other party understands what we’re trying to say, we can speak in any way we like — that’s the modern mentality. And the reality is that I can’t say it’s wrong.
What I can say, though, is that just because “lol” is shorter and more common than “That’s funny” or “Good one, Bess” it doesn’t mean we should use them all the time. It’s time we paid some attention to our language because we’ve taken it so much for granted, that it’s losing its essence. “Befriend” gone unnoticed is just the start.
There’s a reason English has prevailed throughout the years. We still have 400 year-old Shakespearean words etched deep in our lives. Well, we don’t have to use them in our everyday speaking; we don’t have to adhere to Elizabethan English. However, even though we can’t uphold the traditional recipe for communication, the least we can do is respect it. We should at least know what’s available to us, and use them when we can. Because no matter how much we advance in technology, we are naught if we let the subtleties of our languages disappear in a wave of text-speak.