Age 13 and 10 respectively – My brother and I decided to hoard our own library.
Ingenious plan: Papa promised us a new book every summer vacation (… provided we earned it with glowing report cards, obviously.) Only one book apiece! It was a grand beginning. BUT it was woefully inadequate for 2 voracious book-vorous animals. Then we had a brainwave.
If not brand new, we would be completely fine with 2nd hand books.
Sion Circle, Fort and the footpaths of Dadar housed these treasures of second-hand books. 5 Rupees each!
We travelled by BEST bus to school. We realized – if we got down one bus-stop earlier, we saved 25 paise each! (To the wide eyed innocents, ONCE UPON A TIME, there existed a 25 paise coin which = 1/4th Rupee)
The allure of owning books sweetened our extra walking distance to school. Everyday, we managed to save 50 paise. At end of the school term, we proudly presented our reservoir money.
We now had the thrilling freedom to buy a new book and 4 second-hand book apiece. Oh! the simple Joys of Childhood!
FIRST CONQUESTS: I remember clearly – my first NEW book was Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators – ‘Whispering Mummy’ and first 2nd hand book was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five – Five go off in a caravan.
Caught red-handed: Setting aside tradition, we once purchased books b4 exams ended. As brother & myself sat up late revising for next day exams, we were sorely tempted. The books beckoned tantalizing, sensuous and entirely irresistible.
We made a silent pact – ONLY 10 minutes, we decided, and greedily dived at our temptations.
Alas! Papa chose these very 10 minutes to check on his two sincere, studious kids. I dare not recollect the next scene.
Brick by brick: We stocked up laboriously. From Famous five book 9 and Mallory Towers book 3, we gradually managed to get the entire series. The same for Phantom comics We’d manage to get hold of Smuggler’s ring part III first, then meticulously hunt the next summers for Part I & II. What a world it was – Diana, Rex, piranha infested rivers, Skull cave, Guran, Hero & Devil!
I still recollect our neat catalogue of alphabetically, author-wise and Genre-wise categorized library.
Credit Card Era: Now, of course, Crossword and Landmark offer my niece the entire series at the swipe of a credit card. There was joy in our childhood hunt. There’s joy in the credit card too, I guess. I HOPE.
BOOKSHOPS: remain my favorite places in any city. I love the rows of categorized books – Mythology, Mystery, Romance, Self Help.
I love to scoop up half the shop and then retire to a cozy corner to flip through them. I love to top off my trip with bitter hazelnut flavored Cappuccino and Blueberry muffin. Yep, I need that exact combination.
Stamping ownership: Till date, I enjoy inscribing my name, the date of purchase, the shop and the occasion on first page. It may be a random book from a whole shelf, but it instantly becomes ‘Mine’.
Have I outgrown them? I doubt it. I still enjoy Magic Faraway Tree and Sleeping Beauty. My eternal favorite ‘Shadow –the sheepdog’ has flown across the oceans. It now occupies prime position in my niece Rhea’s book-shelf.
e-book? Nope, not me. I like to feel a book, smell its pages, scribble my notes at its edges, underline a new word & hunt down it’s meaning in a dictionary.
Click here for my pre-school Love at first sight with Chandoba and Amar Chitra Katha.
What is your earliest book-memory? Book–adventure? Book you still read?