I don’t remember much of my birth. But I have hazy memories of faces poring over me, peering, contemplating, smiling. Passed from hand to hand, I nestled comfortably in every transient cradle. The need for validation and then not needing it came much later. I was introduced to the world as Kashmakash*. Call it experience or the eternal truth, that is how the world knew me and how I eventually glimpsed myself in everyone I encountered.
A labor of love, I often heard the parental unit describe the journey that culminated in me. Early on, I realized that there was something that drew people to me. They paid close attention – I could tell- and a lot of times to my utter joy I found them transfixed. Their eyes would glaze over and that look of Nirvana**… was it any wonder that I felt so special? With time, I also traveled quite a bit and to my wondrous amazement, I seemed to elicit an identical response everywhere. “A Master-piece” they called me and I flowered naturally. They seeked me out, asked for me, spent time with me. With each day, I bloomed a little more- shedding all my naivete – or so I thought. The world was a beautiful place and I had earned my place in the sun by just, well, being me. What else could be more special?
Some storms passed me by. As with most storms, it left a path of destruction behind. My old friends visited me infrequently, patronizing new friends. Sometimes I found them comparing me to them. Other times I found myself comparing me to their new friends. Sometimes I hear critique when I am mentioned and then some more. Somedays people still spent time with me for who I was but there were other days when the “curious” try to find out who I was.
And then a day arose…..
I landed in a pile of books and felt myself being gathered with others.
“Hey!” I heard an alarmed voice “What are you doing?”
“Giving away these old books”
I felt myself being picked
“Not this one! It is a classic!”
Classic…. The word reverberated. From a masterpiece to a classic. I was still reeling when I was put back on the shelf. The contemplation I often saw in the eyes of my readers shifted to me. What had broken my heart? That I wasn’t picked to be read anymore? That I lay lonely in the shelves like a loved one long forgotten, my existence a question to myself? I shrugged my hardbound cover as a vague memory of my pride in myself surfaced.
The patron tenderly ran his hands on my bind. Smiling, he picked me up again and opened my pages after what seemed like ages. In that moment it appeared we each saw a glimpse of ourselves within me now.
Within me, I thought, and it superseded everything else.
Philautia- beyond the applause and the struggle.
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