Thursday, September 20, 2012

A thank you to an unknown stranger… for a gift of words

I saw something unusual amidst a pile of cast aside newspapers and other junk lying on a barrel.  To my amazement it was an English novel. The last thing one would expect to find in the middle of the jungle.  In the kitchen of Chef Roy at the Pahalahentota camp site to be precise. I had just arrived at the camp site some minutes before and had wandered in to say hello to him  more to find out what there was for dinner than social nicety.
“Wow Roy! I am quite impressed by your reading material” I said when I realized that the novel was Anil’s ghost by Michael Ondaatje. I always thought that Michael Ondaatje’s novels would be a tough and boring read.  I think it was by watching the movie “The English Patient” which made me come to this conclusion. As I flipped through the pages of the book my opinion changed drastically.  The writing was not pompous and high brow at all in fact it was pretty down to earth and simple. The first few pages of the book captivated me so much that I ended up nationalizing it. And I am glad I did so because it was an interesting read.
In the end it turned out that the book was NOT something Roy or any of the staff of the camp were reading. It was left behind by an English girl who had visited the camp site before us. I was so thankful to this kind generous person for leaving her book behind. Because if I had not flipped through this book by accident I would have been denied the pleasure of discovering this authors writing.
I know it is highly unlikely that whoever who left this book would be reading this blog but just in case it happens let me say thank you to this kind and generous soul. If not for you I would have been denied the pleasure of the words of Mr. Michael Ondaatje which I relish so much. A sad situation created by my own stupidity. So I owe you one and will buy you a drink if our paths ever happen to cross.
 I must confess I did not think the plot of the story intriguing. But something about the style of his writing made me really enjoy this book. In fact now I can’t wait till I get my hands on the English patient. They say do not judge a book by its cover but guess a modern adaptation of it could also be do not judge a book by the movie it has been made into. 

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