Nandita visited our library regularly. It was so wonderful to have someone visit our library. She was often lost in a book. She attended the movie screenings and took part in the discussions. One day, I asked her if she would like to join our library. I was surprised when she replied with a question: “What do you library have that fancy bookstores don’t?” She clarified that they are air-conditioned and I began to blurt “… as well.
I was speechless. I was speechless. It makes me think as I sit down and write. A library is a project that my friends and I have started in Bandra. Why?
All the children who come to our library to lay down on our pillows and browse the books they have chosen from the shelves, I thought of. The parents who bring their children to the library, glad that there is finally a library nearby. These parents may not read but want their children to. Some parents are readers, and they take the chaise-longue (comfy blue, inviting, inviting) and don’t move.
Anyone 13 years old and older makes a beeline to the section for grown-ups. The teenage-new-age version of the Magic Faraway Tree is available – remember Enid Blum’s Moonface, Silky and Slippery-slip?, or the Lands that were in its highest branches ?…? Indoors, you will find a sturdy ladder that leads you to the most interesting of lands. It is made from the books you’ve picked up on the way to the loft. You will find books on many subjects. Take a look around and choose what interests you. (cushions, lights, fans supplied).
What about the members who come to us and tell us what books they want? We rush to buy them, then we call the member who is waiting for us at our door. Okay, almost.
However, I felt that I did not have an answer to her question.
I wanted to open a library. She had just asked me why.
My mind wandered through the large room and I realized what it was. I realized what a library offered that a bookstore didn’t.
It’s just like having a baby sister: you play with, kiss, and make a lot of the fat dumpling. You take her to the park, listen to her stories, laugh, and cry with her. At the end of the day you give her back to her mother. Lovely…
The library lets you borrow books you like and allows you to take them home. When you return them, the library takes care of them.
The library covers the pages and provides new books for you if the original copy becomes damaged or worn. You can read the entire collection and even share it. You may meet another library member if you bring back a book that you are passionate about. “Whattt?? “Whatt?”
You sometimes need to find a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life. A place of peace. Home? It’s not really home – the fruitwalla has rung your doorbell and is telling you that it is his “boni Ka time”. What’s the loo? No. Your mobile is now precariously placed on the flush tank. Then? Shangri-la? You ask, disbelieving.
It’s the library. No mobiles, the books require quiet. Calm. And so do you.
Last but not least – did we mention the baby? The analogy is still valid: When you fall in love, sorry, book, with the baby and can’t bear giving her back to her mom, oops to the library, – that’s when it’s time to get one.
You then go to the bookstore Nandita mentioned.