Have you ever wanted something badly? So badly that you were ready to genuflect in front every god mankind worships? And deep down you knew even if you did genuflect in front of every God, Man, animal and aliens of this universe, your progenitors would frown upon your dire need and squish it with the distinctive negation nod of their worldly wise heads. So here I am, racing to the 30-35 checkbox at breakneck speed and mildly bothered about it, with many a dream squished, squashed and pickled. Most of my “I-so-want-to-have-it-!-dramatic pause-NOW!!” dreams did not follow me even to my early teens. But some dreams stayed back with me to become realities of my present. Some dreams I promised myself, silently, without making much ado about it and some I swore on God, my tiny plump fists pointed to sky, (yours truly has always been a drama queen) “I will have it. If not today, someday!”
My mother-in-law says the happiest place on earth according to me would be a book shop.Oh!!I simply love them. I truly think they are my heaven on earth. I run from corner to corner, browsing and re-browsing the shelves. Both my mom’s have a tough time luring me out of a book shop. It’s like trying to get a kid out of a patisserie.
As a kid, I used to wait for the annual day function. It was the day the class toppers are awarded gift vouchers from PAICO. This was an incentive to study. More A1’s you get bigger the voucher amount would be. Then would be the well-planned trip to PAICO.I would ask my dad a million times about a free evening. We pick a day, usually a weekday to make the trip. I would come back home, bouncing all the way from the bus stop. I take out of my shoes and keep them on the shoe rack instead of throwing them in air. The bag would find its place on my study table and in less than 15 minutes of entering the house, I would be at the dining table waiting for my tea all washed and spruced up. There is no fuss about the evening snack. I would never do anything to jeopardize my trip to PAICO. Amma adds, sarcastically, “If someone sees my daughter today they would definitely think you are the best daughter anyone could have. Little do they know.”
I would ignore the barbs and flash a smile at Amma which I know would melt her. I would wear my best dress and go over to bring new books home. Some years I saved my Vishu kaineetam* money to add to the voucher amount so that I can buy more books. Even then there were too many books I wanted and too little money. If I am not wrong, those days, most of the books I wanted were by foreign publishers. I don’t know how many of you remember the Nancy Drew 3-in-1 series for Rs100.I do. I thought it was the “bestest” deal on earth.Anyways a trip to PAICO meant that Acha has to shell out some money from his pocket to pay for my excess shopping (Yeah,I started quite young!).At times Amma complained how Acha has to pay almost the same amount as my prize money and in some years even more on my yearly book-shopping binge. In college there were no prizes to be won and hence no books could be bought. I still browsed book shops in Trichur even when I had only just enough money for the bus fare back to hostel. I would open a book, read the covers, slide my fingers over the edges, and sometimes inhale the smell of paper. That’s the fourth best smell on earth after the smell of hot piping coffee, of wet earth and of a baby.
|That is my cozy corner !**|
I think it was on one of those soulful sad evening of penury that I promised myself, that I would never ever go to a book shop and come out without a book. I would always have a spare book in my bag to read. I will never ever run out of books to read. Even if I run of spare chaddi’s, I’ll live. But I will never ever ever be without a book.
After I got my job, I allocated a monthly budget to buy books. Every time I travel to a
country, I buy a book from a book store there. It may sound silly, but I ask
the book seller to stamp their shop’s seal on the book. So every time I come
across the book I would remember my trip and the memories would come flooding
back. It would be my special time capsule. Each time a book is bought, I jot
down the date and name of the book shop I got the book from. new city
Over the last few years I have managed to build my own book collection.
It has fairy tale from 1980’s by Dreamland publication to Calvin and Hobbes, Tintin, LOR, Poirot, Miss Marple, Mr. Holmes and many more. I am happy about my book collection and very passionate about my dream of having a personal library.
Some day I will have a home. It will be a Colonial bungalow look alike with red terracotta tiles, cool white walls and blue windows. There will be billowing curtains in pastels with sunlight streaming through them; washing the rooms in a soft golden hue. There will be trees around the house and the garden will be alive with bright blooming pink and white bougainvilleas. And in that bungalow will be a room with high ceiling and red chettinad floor tiles. It will have wall to wall book shelves in deep brown polished wood (anti-termite ones).And in these shelves would reside my lifetime collection of books. Each carefully picked over from multitude countries over the years. The room will have a plush seats to curl in and coffee tables to rest the coffees. There will be large windows overlooking the garden. I will watch the sunset, I will watch it rain and I will read my books while sipping my cup of coffee.
And someday as I am leafing through a thriller, it will drizzle. I will put the book down and take a sip of my coffee. Just then, at that exact moment, sun will peep out of the dark clouds. The rain would seize and a beautiful rainbow would crown the sky. In that golden yellow light, dragonflies would fly over the green grass of my lawn. I will close my eyes, smile, and exclaim,” This is my heaven on earth!”
Paradise is a library with free flow of drinks,
chocolate fountain and pani poor stall and only Sundays ~ Blue Lotus
*Vishu kaineetam: Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala marking the New Year in accordance with the Malayalam calendar. On the day of the festival (usually on April 14), elders of the family gift money to children.
** That is my cozy corner: This photo won the “BOOKSHELF Contest” conducted by Youth Express. I won a signed copy of Latest Book and CCD's Coffee Mug!!