Do you remember books? Books that you read a long time ago? Not just the stories, you know, but things like what they looked like, how you got to read them…
I remember some.. Like the first book I owned.. The book, which in a way changed my life. You see, until Class 4, I was quite a mediocre student. My mum used to help me with school work at home, but I never did very well. Then in Class 4, my brother had some medical complications and mum and dad were busy, I started studying all by myself, and at the end of the year, I got an award – for exceptional improvement.. I think from then on, I was consistently good at studies. I think studying independently helped. Anyway, the award was a book, an Enid Blyton book, of which, funnily enough, I can’t remember the name! I used to remember it until very recently – old age, I suppose! Do any of you remember which book had 4 children, one of them named Nora? It was a series, but I can’t remember anything beyond this… and the fact that I loved it( which was true about every Enid Blyton I ever read).
Today, I had been reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Lives of Strangers. The book is alright, but it kind of transported me to another era, because of the colour of the pages. It had that old book feel(it was probably an older copy), if you know what I mean. All my old books back at home, used to have that feel. Especially when they were stored in a trunk. That yellow colour, which also gives the feeling that the paper will crumple under your fingers, if you are not careful.
Long back, when I was still in school, I used to raid my granddad’s book shelf. One of the books I remember from those days was A J Cronin’s Citadel. I still remember particularly poignant parts of that book. I have re-read it many, many times, but I guess reading a book that my grandfather enjoyed gave me just as much pleasure, I think, as the story itself. Once I had worked through my grandfather’s collection, his brother, my great Uncle got me some of his – his collection of PG Wodehouse. What fun! Those were the best holidays ever! I would read his collection of Reader’s Digests too. It used to amaze me how the magazines which were so very thick in the 50’s and the 60’s became thinner and thinner by the 80s! My grandfather had 4 decades or so, of Readers Digests, and I read them all 🙂
As I read through the yellowed pages of my book today, I couldn’t help be a little sad, that daughter might miss that entirely. What if only electronic readers remain by the time she gets older? Heartbreaking, isn’t it? No more thumbing through books that had been in the family for years, no more reading books that one’s grandparents might have enjoyed.. Instead brand new, soulless books on the reader. It just makes me so sad..
Edited to add: I figured out which book it was – The Secret of the Moon Castle. How could I forget that, I have no idea 🙂 But at least ‘Googling’, reminded me 🙂