It sounds funny in today’s world, when we have kindle, ebooks, online reading material, bookstores and print reading material in plenitude, that the temporary closing of the local library would cause a lot of angst-to me. But, yes, it does, incredibly so. I am the kind of person who reads everything and anything. Fiction, non-fiction, travel, anthropology, animal behaviour, philosophy, mythology, comics, newspapers, tabloids, news weeklies, women’s magazines, pamphlets enclosed with pharmaceutical products, labels on food items… I cannot resist reading the newspaper pages that are used to wrap up my groceries. I can happily munch a carrot while smoothing out the creases in the paper bag that carried my vegetables so that I can read the latest data about what is causing the most pollution around the Taj Mahal.
Coming back to the library. They’ve closed it for a month. Is it snowing? No. Is the cold severe? No. I am enjoying the excellent sunshine everyday, cracking open and eating peanuts by the trayful. Is there a security issue? No. Being a small and peaceful place, the library has a few dedicated members only, the number you can count on your fingers. They just need a break! The people running the library, that is. So, I am left dreaming of the list of books I wanted to read.
Those rough and broad spines, the smell of the ink, the sharp edges of paper, the rustle of the pages, the weight of the books all add to an amazing sensory delight not to be found elsewhere. The hush of the library room, the footsteps sounding loud on the stone floor and the timelessness into which everything is suspended! Ah! how much do I miss all these! I start ticking the days off on the calendar to the day Paradise would open its doors to me once again.
In the meanwhile, out of desperation, I pick up my pen again. Typing and sending out my own written word has become easy on the electronic devices available. Yet, feeling the grooves of the pen, the smell of the ink and the large blots it leaves on paper is oddly comforting. Vaguely, I think back to all the long letters I used to write to my friends, relatives, editors of papers and magazines… I doodle, put a few punctuation marks here and there on the sheet of paper (I have stacks of them stashed away for just such an emergency) and write. Magic! Words flow, ideas take wings and my thoughts coalesce in a strangely coherent manner-something I had not felt for quite some time.
Thanks to the dearth of reading material, I decided to really write and it is a lot of fun.