The world has produced a plethora of writers who have made an indelible contribution to its inhabitants in the form of their writings. In the wee hours of the morning of February 19, 2016, the world lost such a gem and I, one of my favourite authors.
Nelle Harper Lee was her name. I, an earnest admirer of this virtuoso can’t thank her enough for writing To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that transformed millions of lives.
Post her demise, newspapers have been replete with tributes for this doyenne. Of the numerous ways of paying tribute, I thought of penning down a letter to her. So, here is my tribute.
Dear Ms. Lee,
I want to start by saying thank you. I know that you have departed the mortal realm and settled in your heavenly abode. However, I also know that communication is beyond pen and paper and not achieved by simply making a sound. Communication takes place through the heart. You have taught me that. And hence, this letter.
We were first acquainted roughly 14 years ago. I was a 9-year-old kid, reticent yet perpetually curious. My father who had engendered the marvellous habit of reading in me introduced me to a book that would with time etch an eternal position on my reading list. That book was the Pulitzer Prize winning “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
For me, To Kill a Mockingbird has been more than just a book. It has been a great teacher of this enigma called life and also an enriching experience. It is a paradox, so simple and yet so complex. There cannot be a limit to what the book has taught me. It has been my constant companion all these years. It has taught me about childhood and children, justice and judgement, social inequality and integrity, family, death and most importantly about kindness and compassion.
Such was the impact of the book that I could never get enough of it. And hence, I made a habit reading it every year. In fact, every year I start my reading list with To Kill a Mockingbird.
What astounds me is how relevant the book is even today. The more I read the book, the more I am able to grasp the analysis of human fallacies and comprehension of society. And despite that, the poignancy delivered by the book has remained unchanged. There seem to be different kinds of Maycomb in this world today. Till this day, when I see innocence being slaughtered in various forms, it pinches me because I know that “it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
When violence used as the most important tool is labelled as courage, I know that “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
I know how easy it is to judge people instantly and how difficult to “climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it.” I have learnt what a challenge it is to explain his or her point of view because “people generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”
There are a lot of issues that have been deemed as hopeless by many. Yet, I can’t bring myself to lose hope because you taught me that “things are never as bad as they seem” and also that “things are always better in the morning.”
I will not bid you farewell. For I don’t believe that you have left us forever. I believe that you have simply changed the residence. For me, you will remain immortal Ms. Lee. You leave behind what I believe is the greatest treasure of mankind. Your words shall forever remain important to society across age groups. And thank you for that.
An eternally grateful admirer.