am was propped on a bed at my maternal grandfather’s place. I struck a lottery when I found for novels stowed away in a corner of a cupboard.
There’s Arthur Hailey & Sidney Sheldon apart from Mitch Albom. Unfortunately, the edges of the first fifty pages or so of Hailey’s first novel (guess which one?) have been munched away.
But that’s okay. I still have the others. I feel like hugging all these old books with their yellowing pages and cracking spines with all the strength in my arms. Books are such absurd things; they enchant despite shoddiness that time slaps from cover to cover.
Mitch Albom has a way with words.
The last words by the man in bed, laboring to breathe, whispering his last words with great difficulty touched a raw spot. Just as Morrie died of being unable to breathe, so did my grandmother.
There was poison in his lungs, scans later revealed that water had filled her lungs. They had asthma.
They both died for lack of breath.
Even as it was hard to swallow the regret that I did not see her in her last moments, I could not put the book away.
Albom chases money and fame in a bid to squeeze more life into whatever time he has left.
His uncle had died of pancreatic cancer and he didn’t want to go away like that.
He, like we all often do, lost touch with most people from college, including his favourite professor whom he called Coach.
Coach and player they were.
At thirty, he chances upon a television show which drinks in the wisdom the old frail man has to offer, on the cusp of death, neither fully living, nor fully dead.
What follows is a series of meetings held every Tuesday. Mitch and Morris would discuss one topic off the former’s list one at a time; the old man with his thinning silver hair slipped into greater bodily decay and greater joy for his time, the love of his family, colleagues and former students who couldn’t get enough of him.
The story is ordinary, much like Morris. The seemingly simple reunion is so profound. Just like the old times, teacher and student tackle the questions that plague the young one.
From the dying to the living.
(PS. Watch out for the aphorisms)
It is a heartwarming recollection that captures Albom’s coming of age as he imbibes his final lessons.
The safety that books provide one is second to none. Within the holy margins and revised words, one can let go and feel sensations in one’s bosom as they arise: laugh, grieve, worry, question and hate with reckless abandon.
Sitting here, without my naani, I relived all the emotions I keep in a corner.
Like Morris Schwartz counsels, in order to detach, you must lose yourself in your emotion. So the next time the same emotion grips you, you can recognize it and step away from it.