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Monday, July 5, 2010

A Book In The Past


Sometimes I think I was a book in my last birth. I dont believe in reincarnation and many lives and all that, but just thinking of the love I have for books sometimes makes me feel that maybe I too was one of them.

I have never been able to throw away a book. Nor am I comfortable lending my books to people, be it friends or even family. Of course I would never give my book to a person whom I hardly know...who is to tell how they would treat my books?

They have always been a part of my life ever since I can remember. From the earliest memories I have of me, I can always see a book in the time-frame. And I have only my parents to thank for it. They are the ones who introduced me to this enchanted world. Whenever there was an occasion for celebration they would get me a new book, whenever I wasnt well they would get me a book, whenever I achieved something they would gift me a book. And I always looked forward with eager anticipation to that time when baba or ma would hand me a new book with a smile.

I remember when I was a kid there was this hugely popular youngster's magazine called TARGET. I dont know how many of you read it or how many of you remember it now. But I looked forward to their latest edition every time. I dont remember now whether they were once a month or once a fortnight. And then there were those special issues when the regular TARGET would be a big big affair, hard-bound and with lots and lots of more pages. Sometimes we also needed to book it in advance with our newspaper 'bhaiyas'. I remember one such time when a very special issue of TARGET was about to come out and I had told my parents about the same. Baba was supposed to get it one day for me and when he came home, he looked sadly at me and said "Sorry, but the book was sold out. I will try again." I cant tell you how sad and dejected I was then, but I hid my face and said it wasnt a problem. Of course that would not fool my parents, and baba brought out his hands from behind his back and there it was.....the book I had been waiting for....I didnt get up from reading that book the whole day and next day it was all I could think of in school, I kept wanting to go back home and finish the rest.....

My house now is stacked with books, it is one of the first things people notice when they visit. My husband sometimes asks me if I would like to open a library so that others too have a chance of reading the same. I love books of many genres and styles and it is a varied collection I have. But even though I know its selfish I can never do that. I think my love is more for the books that have now grown old, signs of aging making them yellow, their pages dog-eared with years of reading, my name that I write on all my books as a mark of possession fading away and the ink turning a pale blue. I love all that. And the best thing I love about these books is the smell. Have you ever picked up an old book and buried your nose in its pages? An old book and a new one will never ever smell the same. Nor will they ever have the same texture or feel or look. And that is how I like them. I love to see a book with signs of having been read. A book should not be looked like it has never been touched, like it has been preserved. It should look like it has been fondly been caressed by its owner, though taking full care at the same time not to damage it in any way. All my books are there with me even today, even those very old ones I read as a child. I have them all. And I love them all.....

And maybe like the love and the bonding sometimes suggests, I was a book in some past time.....who knows..