Wondering About Wandering
Yesterday, I read a rather strange book called The Way of Muri by Ilya Boyashov. A book that was such a bestseller in Russia, apparently, that it was translated into English almost at once.
It’s about Muri the cat, who loses his home and human family when Yugoslavia disintegrates, but who flatly refuses to resign himself to that state of affairs. He knows his human family has gone elsewhere and he makes it his mission to go after them. So he travels all across Europe to find them, so he can have everything back exactly the way it was before.
But the book is not as simple as that. (What did you expect? Since when have Russian books significant enough to be translated into English been simple?) While Muri is definitely the hero of the book, there are loads of other characters, all wanderers in some way or the other, some of whom are on missions, some of whom have dreams, some of whom have given up their missions and / or dreams, some of whom have no concept of missions and dreams, some of whom make it their life’s mission to prove that a journey with a goal is the only way that a journey is a journey, and some of whom make it their life’s mission to prove that a journey without a goal is the best possible journey.
As I said before, it’s a strange book. And though I didn’t quite understand all of it, I liked it very much. Thinking about it after I put it on my bookshelves, I figured I liked it for two reasons other than the fact that I just liked it (beyond a point I can’t analyse why I may or may not like a book. Often, I just like a book for no particular reason I can specify). One: because, in one of those strange coincidences that happen from time to time, I read this book about wandering immediately after reading a history of India’s geography (Land of the Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal; rather good), which in turn I’d read immediately after poring over a history of map-making in India (Mapping India by Manosi Lahiri; most fascinating), so I’ve had wandering lurking in my subconscious for quite a while.
And two: I read this book in a year when I’d been wondering about my own goals and journeys (in all aspects of life), and finally understood that I’ve never had any goals in my life (with the one exception of deciding that I wanted to live in Bombay, I’ve always just gone with the flow) but because I simply go with the flow, I’m on a journey that will only end when I end.
I’m not certain if this having no goals, no missions, is a good thing or a bad thing; if simply going with the flow can be classified as a journey at all since it implies a lack of thought; if it would make any difference at all if I were to try and analyse this and come to some conclusion. I don’t think there can ever be any conclusive answers to those questions. I guess every human being is doomed to wonder about wandering.