Tell Tale of Poverty, Detective novels, Letters in faces, Yearn to become someone else and Hidden meaning of words

Today we feature a guest post by Vaibhav Rathi about the strange allure of Orhan Pamuk.

A fictitious article, an essay, book or just a random conversation with the person you have never met. When you read some of these( or other) things again and again, it will often happen that the old meaning, which you were all too sure of, starts to melt away giving way to the obvious meaning which you have long suspected.

So when you are reading a good book (cue: the one which makes you read the world, rather than just itself) which boast of being a religious-political thriller, and you are assaulted with a chapter titled: We're Not Stupid, We're Just Poor. It’s only natural that you immediately think of the perception that our society is arranged in decreasing order of intelligence. How we think of the poor, it’s because they are stupid that they haven’t figured out how to make money and live good life. Rich folks think this of poor folks, rich country for poor country, and so on. But most of all you’d be haunted by all the new types of Secularist, Islamist, Nationalist, and Leftist you’d find in there. Although a political thriller –as it claims- it doesn’t have any government, government agent, corporation, any establishment, or even spies. All there is are bunch of poor people stranded in a small town completely cut off from outside world for snow. It’s then only, among those individuals with dangerously conflicting ideas, you get to realize what politics is all about: ideas and beliefs. No sooner than you have felt this very basic fact, you’ll be assaulted by secularists who are not as un-biased as they seem, Islamists whose only mistake is that they have self-respect, nationalists who live in the past, leftists, and two young boys who are discovering what it’s like to have faith. Well into the book, you’d know that there is no way this story can end ever.

When you, rather complacently, would figure that it might be the most influential book you’ll ever read, soon enough, you’ll stumble upon another one which will mock you for holding such deluded notions. This new book would look like a detective novel, read like a detective novel, but the problem is it wouldn’t feel like one. No murder, no criminals, no pursuit, ever morphing identities, you wouldn’t know who is searching and what, or even if there is anything to search.

Much early in the book, you’ll read: Galip had once told Ruya that the only detective book he’d ever want to read would the one in which not even author knew the murderer’s identity. Instead of decorating the story with clues and red herrings, the author would be forced to come to grips with his characters and his subject, and his characters would have a chance to become people in a book instead of just fragments of their author’s imagination.

You’d feel the nervous, being intimidated, when the protagonist would say that he finds it incredibly artificial when everything just falls into the place at the end of a detective book, and at this precise moment, the author would whisper all the clues into the detective’s ears, who is till now seemingly ignorant, and who would solve the mystery then and there. Just as you read this, you’d know the following story would not be a simple one, would not be one story, but story becoming another story, yearning to become another story and most of the time passing off as some another story, just as people do.

You shouldn’t be bothered if you are required to solve all the mysteries of the world in pursuit of your search as everything will become a clue: you, your wife, all the possessing of your wife, all the column her ex-lover writes, mystery behind mannequins influencing people’s expression, all the faces around you, the letters engraved in those faces: two brow lines, four eye lashes, and one hairline –seven in all, only till the face is divided into two by ‘late arriving nose’ and then the letter engraved will be fourteen. Then you’ll take account into the more poetic real and imaginary lines, the number doubles again, leaving you with a new twenty eight letter language to decipher. Not to mention the entire history, all the fables that were ever created, parables that were ever told, and secret meaning hidden behind all the words used. The world will be a sea of clues; every drop will bore the salty taste of mystery behind it. Each and everything would morph into a clue pointing you to another world which is bare of mysteries, and where in you can become someone else.

When you’ll see in the faces of people the yearn to become someone else, to pass off as someone else, it is imminent that you’ll think of every time you had already known this. When people would wish Merry Christmas, with an unusual zeal, and perhaps would lack that zeal even their own festivals and would conveniently forget other ones. When people would mention Boxing Day in a place where there is no such thing, and when those same people would wish each other Thanksgiving, you’ll almost be sure that they have already become someone else. At this time, even their voice will change and so will their speech, they will look different but you’ll easily be able to tell the truth just by having one look at the conflict on their faces. They have long forgotten who they really are; they have forgotten their history, their culture, their identity.

It is at this precise moment, you’d be assaulted by two questions:

Do you have trouble being yourself?

Is there a way a man can only be himself?

Each of these clues would lead you to another mystery, that is waiting to be unveiled, mystery behind hidden meaning of words. Words which contains second, third or even more meanings that are hidden; you just have to look for them. You have to convince yourself of the fact that they will reveal themselves eventually. Over time, you’ll know of the mystery words harbor, the secrecy they enjoy, to hide infinite amount of meaning. When you will be conversing with somebody you know, or don’t, and in absence of special circumstances, it is natural that everything will be obvious. But you’ll know what they really mean, its not to say that they are lying, they just mean something else. Just by paying attention to words, you’ll know, since they mean something else, their choice of words will invariably be biased. And sometimes, it will also happen that you’ll be able to know what the other person hasn’t even realized yet. All this just by paying attention to words, and their hidden meaning. As when an accuse becomes upset on being accused, you’d know of the prime thing that makes human upset: guilt. Now think how will you feel when, later, you get to know that the hidden meaning, which you sought after peeling all the layers and which was never said or implied by the unknown person, is indeed the only truth not just your delusional fantasy? So, it is only obvious, that eventually you’d stop looking at the meaning that is all too obvious but at the hidden meaning, because only it is the truth. Words will never reveal their true meaning and it is only after number of attempts you can hope to get the meaning that is always hidden layers beneath.

In the end you know that your gut feeling, the intuition is the only real meaning left in the things.

But mostly, even you wouldn’t realize, you wouldn’t want to look for true hidden meanings because you’d be afraid of what you might find.

It is, at this moment, when you are lost among, and overwhelmed by, hidden meanings; you’d try to make sense of things and this is all that will come out( by that green pen of yours):

I wonder, do people always mean what they are saying, or they are pointing you to an entirely different meaning. Often I feel maybe people are speaking in codes, some subtle meaning, if only I can understand the meaning, I’ll be able to talk to them. Of course I would also say some things, at the same time, implying other things. Then we would, finally, be able to have a conversation. To an onlooker, we’d be talking normally, perhaps about something relevant to current time, about a movie, a book, or some music we both just happen to like. But, all this time, I’d know the other person is reading all the signs, from the things I am saying, more often he’ll also get the meaning of things I had thought I’d say subtly but I didn’t. When we would be talking about a thing, quite normally, it’s natural that we’d both be aware of the other thing that this thing signifies, because we are indeed only talking about the other thing. When we’d be talking about a movie, immediately we both would know, that the conversation is not about this movie but some other movie whose fate is linked with this movie, maybe because the director was only able to make this movie because he had made the movie which we are really talking about. . Or perhaps, we would really be talking about an actor which is not in this movie, but only because he didn’t want to. A song would really mean an incidence worn into its lyrics, a book would refer to the thing which has really affected us, cat would really mean dog, while a dog would mean the book which has dog on its cover, and he would mean she and so on. In our conversation, things will refer to their real meaning, not to the meaning that people take of granted. Then, looking down, we’ll laugh at the world, but maybe we’ll really be frowning for their innocence and shallowness, due to which they will never get the true meaning that things signify.

When you are searching for something very hardly, after long enough the search will become more important than the thing itself. You won’t be sure anymore of the thing you really want to seek.

In the end, you’d know the real question is, Did Apes feel the same solidarity as Darwin did towards them? He hadn’t got any way to communicate by which he could confirm. Even if he’d have tried, it would have been, literally, like talking to chimps.

All the real meanings are hidden and only the hidden meanings are real.


  1. "Words will never reveal their true meaning..."



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