Why I Got My Books Back

Today, I am strangely dejected.

By now, most of you would have realized that I love reading and books.I like people who read. I encourage everyone to read. It opens up worlds hitherto unknown to us.Once you read, you will forever be free.That is my strong belief.

We have a nice library at my workplace. Almost 15 years back, when I started working, I would buy books for this library. The librarian,  a quiet unassuming fellow, would smile in amusement at my glee when I would inform him about the books that I have bought for his ‘fiefdom’. He would thank me. The money would of course be reimbursed to me.

Then I left to work somewhere else, only to return to the same office 1 & 1/2 years back.

Today, I wanted to look up a particular reference  to ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. I remembered buying the book  for the library. When I got the book, I saw that it had been issued to me 15 years back.Only a single entry in the issue card.After that, no one had issued it to read.I called the librarian, now on the verge of retirement, to have a cup of tea with me.Hesitantly, I asked him about ‘all the books that I had bought’ & ‘do/did people read them”. He  gently told  me ”Mainly no, Madam,I am afraid”.  Very foolish tears welled up in my eyes as I told him “You know, I had bought those books with such a lot love and hoped that people would read them.It was as if I had left a part of myself there among the books “. We sipped the tea in companionable silence.

In the last 1 & 1/years that I have been back, I had bought 19 books again for the library. ‘Chote Lal ji”, I told him,’you would be having a record of them, right ? Please issue them all to me. I will then inform you that I have lost them. Naturally, I will have to bear their cost, which I shall pay back. My books will return to me”. The old man’s eyes became moist but he nodded. He understood.  I think he was glad too.For like me, he loves books and reading.And he will not have books dis-respected. I sadly quoted Ray Bradbury to him “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them’. He nodded again and left.

I guess I am way emotional and sentimental. Perhaps, many would also consider me foolish ?

But those of you who like feel/have felt this :”Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens “( Carlos Ruiz Zafon, ‘The Shadow of the Wind”), you will understand why I have decided to get my books back. For you see, I cannot bear to leave a piece of me to those who don’t believe books are magic.

Pardon me, for being fanciful and restless. I need to listen to the very beautiful George Harrison.