So I’ve finally finished reading the book my friend was telling me about.
Having read the book from cover to cover, I slowly closed its spine. And with a deep breath comes the slow awakening as I struggle back to reality. I find myself contemplating after experiencing something deep, intimate. I feel grateful and satisfied; somewhat pensive after living the lives of divergent beings and experiencing their hardships and triumphs. One hell of a ride it was.
But like soap bubbles, the feeling is fleeting.
There’s this nagging sadness knowing that that magical moment of being transported to another world has to end. It’s that bitter feeling like losing something and not knowing what to do next to fill the void. It’s like losing a friend, a companion, or rather finding that one special person – the relationship ends and not finding anybody else who can live up to that expectation.
The journey is over, but my body refuses to make the transition back to the real world. Because sometimes, reality sucks and I just feel that reality is not enough for me. I get this horrendous emptiness inside and I relentlessly think of the characters, wishing I’d meet them in real life, or perhaps live their lives. I even catch myself wondering what they are up to as though they’re real people and not just a figment of the author’s imagination.
It’s depressing. There is this sentimental and regretful feeling. But looking at it, I guess it’s a testament to the author’s talent in immersing us to the fantasy world to the point of drowning. A good writer makes us feel close to his/her characters and when the last chapter is over, it’s like being separated from friends – the journey we’ve taken with them is finally over.
Maybe it’s just natural to find the real world bland and futile after breaking free from the fantasy world. But I guess it is because of the characters, more than the cheesy or bewildering story lines. These characters, despite knowing that they are just romanticized renditions of reality, play on the same emotions we get when we have to leave a home, when we are in love, or lose someone/something we care about. Maybe because they’ve triggered a long-forgotten memory, or they’ve touched a part in our heart that set off emotions we didn’t know existed, or perhaps they’re the epitome of someone we’ve always wanted to be.
They call it post-series depression, or book hangover. But for me, it’s more like a break-up, or perhaps a drug comedown. This phenomenon can be a product of magnificent writing and savvy, deep reading where we enter the emotional world of the characters and connect it to our own joy or pain. If this is a syndrome, it’s the one I’ll gladly own.
But sometimes I find it ridiculous to miss the characters like they’re an old friend who moved away. I yearn for places I’ve never been to or never will be able to visit. I am left wanting more and hoping that the author will take me back to that world one day.
Sure, I can visit them anytime. But I find myself longing for the words on those pages to flow like they did the first time I set my eyes on them – when I didn’t know what the next paragraph holds. Because if I re-read the story, I know that the characters are no longer free to roam like they used to. All I can hope for is to notice something about a scene that I haven’t noticed before and just try to relive those feelings I had the first time around.
But it will never be the same.