As a child, my most distinctive memory of books is my cousin’s wooden cupboard. His creaking shelves, believe me as a child, I felt the books were asking to be plucked from shelves. Why the verb plucked, you’d ask? Well, plucked, any child would associate, rather envisage, a plump juicy fruit that needed to be stealthily plucked from his backyard, especially during long summer noons, when elders, grannies especially mother’s were asleep. The gardener was snoring in a distant corner.
Books, similarly, needed a similar kind of stealth. Yes, libraries were a rarity; and if you came across a collector with tempting titles: you came across Ali Baba’s treasure sans the thieves.
The room automatically transformed into a magical cave, all demons and villains you battled in your mind. Ah yes, at the ground level, if your reading was interrupted by your mother’s thunderous screech… then it was a different thing.
Coming back to the allure of laden teak shelves, imagine possessing two to three hundred books. The fragrance of paper, old yellowed with someone’ s words etched on the first pages. A formal tone of address stating that this was the most precious gift on so and so birthday (of the possessor). Or else, a gift from a teacher effusively praising S**** for his rank and merit. As I took a sneak peak, I imagined a pedant with horn rimmed specs, typically a 1975s teacher, for instance the protagonist of the book ‘To Sir With Love’.
I believe it was not about just reading a book, but the feeling that I held an object that I cherished. This feeling I carried into my teenage and adulthood.
Today my racks are full of books, I possess a variegated collection : Philosophy, Fiction, History, Poetry, Travelogues, Refugeehood & Displacement, Gender Studies, Classic Literature, Language Teaching & Art. Subjects that bewilder Pranic Healing, Crystals, Theta Healing, Academic Writing and Literary Theory and Application, Praxis. I invite you into my magical cave to read, just as I did in my yesteryears.
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