“Okay fine, give me hundred and that’s it. I don’t usually sell them for that low, but then you are my regular customer.”
“Yeah right”, I thought grimly. “Alright. Here, take it”, I gave up. Both of us knew I would not leave without buying.
This was me talking to a book dealer. He sells books by the road side, with piles of them spread out on a cot, and I often buy from him as I get them for nearly half the price of the pretty originals. My feet refuse to budge when I reach the place. Once I am rooted to the spot, I have no other choice than to let my hands pick up books so that I go through them. The book dealer knows one, when he sees one; bibliophile.
I have been reading books for as long as I can remember. My mother had acquainted me to books ever since I was 3. Of course, I could not read then. But she used to narrate stories with those picture books for kids. The story of three bears and Goldilocks, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Snow white and the seven dwarfs and so on. She would sit me on her lap and narrate the story according to the pictures making me turn the pages. I was so fond of them I would go through the pages again and again. As I learnt reading it was time for Champak, Balamangala, Gokulam, Chandamama , Tinkle and various comics that came as a boon by Amar Chitra Katha (Thank you Uncle Pai!).
By fifth grade, we were allowed to borrow books from the Junior Library of our school and that was when I was introduced to Enid Blyton. She has created such a wonderful world of fantasy for children. Her stories of imaginary creatures like pixies, gnomes and elves and their lives. It was fascinating. Even her adventure books like Secret seven and Famous five have been my favourites. She wrote several novels all for kids and the saddest irony of her life was that she hated kids and did not bond with her own grandchildren. She was hardly close to her own daughter.
My craze had reached its peak when Harry Potter had come to this world and the list of books since tends to infinity. I got eager and desperate to find the books, borrowing from friends, exchanging, begging and pleading to the reluctant ones.
“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library”, said Mr. can’t-remember-his-name, and he imagined right. Whenever I go to a library or a books store my first feeling is euphoria. Then I feel an irresistible urge to take away as many books as I can carry, and confusion about which one to pick first when there are so many you want, and no money to buy them all. Then from nowhere I get this idea of taking up a job as a librarian, or a sales girl in that book shop, so I can be with the books all the time and read them all one by one. The thought is itself elating.
Books are the best friends you can get. Having no siblings and both parents working, I find myself alone most of the time, and books have been my best companions, always. Once my nose is buried in a book I am in a different world, oblivious to the world I physically exist in.
Finding books is like meeting people, destiny. Strange as it seems, books have a way of finding you. As soon as you set your eyes on the first page, you build a connection with the book, a bond with the characters; you get attached to them, get into their minds, and feel their feelings. You are curious to know what happens at the end, and at the same time, when you do reach the end, you feel sad, as if saying farewell to friends. You miss the people of book-land. Thoughts about the book linger for days after you have finished reading it. You remember incidents from the book or some funny lines, and find yourself smiling all of a sudden, much to the horror of any onlooker.
Like any other relationship, there are ups and downs in relations with books. Some make you very happy, some make you cry, some play hard to get, and some hard to let go, some teach you ethics, and change your life, some fail to entertain you like you thought they would and some can be very disappointing. But it is reading-life teaching you lessons the hard way. Eventually you learn not to judge a book by its cover, and it is what is inside that matters.
Come what may, I will remain addicted, a chain reader.
“I am wondering what to read next”