Lucky readers, Shipra is the first to answer the call for writers at da-AL’s blog. Will you be next?
Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48099093
In Shipra’s words…
A library is a place where you can either clear your head or fill it.
My first was our big motley collection of books at home: encyclopedias, religious books, management books, chemistry and botany books from my parents’ college days, child psychology, self-help, maternity, cookery, fiction, autobiography, and even a Hindi song book.
Internet wasn’t a household thing, so I flipped through glossy encyclopedia pages for pictures. The first books I read were Ruskin Bond novels for children, and comics.
When my mom would leave for her office, I rummaged through her books, clothes, cosmetics and even office papers. In Reader’s Digest I came across the word, ‘naked.’ English is our second language. When I asked her what naked meant, she was shocked. I didn’t see Reader’s Digest again, and was instructed to only read books from a particular shelf.
The Chicken Soup for Soul series for kids and teenagers remains close to my heart. Although those stories were contributed by young children, their wisdom and maturity is something I find missing even in elderly people.
The next library was more of a rental shop with no place to sit. The owner suggested a Mills and Boons title featuring a couple in an embrace sure to get me into trouble at home. He pointed Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” which I loved. Next I got Coelho’s, “Veronica Decides to Die,” but my daddy made me return.
Library visits stopped when I readied for college entrance tests. After tenth grade, I made new friends. The boys’ biology book explained human reproduction. Feeling like rebels, we visited the college library to read it!
In college, I ordered books online. My favorite was Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.”
My next library was during my final college year. It was huge, two floors of thousands of books. I had had my heart broken. My scores at an all time low, I resolved to channel my energy into studies. I was doggedly studying when, upon seeing a guy, I felt a flutter in my stomach. He was very tall, broad shouldered, muscular, with a movie hero face. I figured he was a library as well as a gym regular. Those days, I looked like the back of a truck, so I acted invisible, staring at guys longer than polite.
That week I visited the library only to see him. One day, while I stole glances at him, he sat behind me. He asked me about myself. I inquired about him. Fidgety, I blurted that I knew he from his book selection that he was in electronics and telecom.
We became good friends – bummer! – I got friend-zoned! We’re still friends, and say Hi to each other annually.
At my MBA college’s library I mostly read National Geographic.
Libraries have old world charm, each with an aura that rubs off on patrons. They’re treasures that shape communities, sanctuaries of silence and knowledge. Near extinct, they must be preserved. The joy of holding a book, turning pages, bookmarking them and seeing them yellow, is as priceless as having a friend you grew up with.