Friday, 14 March 2014

The Library

Image courtesy Deviantart

As usual, I fell asleep with the book resting on my chest. It happens every night. When I wish to get some sleep, I get a book with me to bed. A good book makes me forget my stress, relaxes my mind and the sleeps sets in quickly. A bad, boring book brings the sleep even faster.

Little did I know that sleeping with a book on my chest will bring me a weird experience tonight.

I was deep into my sleep when suddenly I found myself walking; walking in my dream to a building looking like a library. The board in the front said ‘Your Library’. “That’s a weird name for a library,” I thought, and entered through a big glass door.

To my surprise, I found nobody inside. No staff, no readers.

The library looked a little different. The shelves bore labels like ‘1978’, ‘1985’, ‘1990’, instead of the familiar labels like ‘Fiction’, ‘Self Help’, ‘Cookery’ etc.

I walked to the biggest shelf and stood there. A shelf full of slim hardcover books, with smooth and colorful prints. I took out one. A chill went down my spine. This was the same  book of rhymes which I had possessed and read in my kindergarten. My very own book with my name scribbled on it in shaky handwriting on the front page. I opened the first page. The words ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star…’ stared at me. All in large coloured font. The page was full with pictures of stars- some printed and some drawn by me with my own hands, some with pencil and some with crayons. I had made a smiling face in some of the stars with a pencil, may be on a particular day when I was too happy upon being praised by my teacher. I checked on some other books. One was ‘Alphabet-Book’, another ‘Numbers-Book’ and another was full with sketches for me to colour.  

Image courtesy Wikipedia
I understood. I was in a library where all the books I had read in my life were preserved, neatly stacked in chronological sequence,  year wise from 1978 to 2014. Fate had brought me into this library. Each and every book which I had read in my life was archived there- the same original copies which I had possessed once upon a time.

I started reading again ‘Jingle bells…’ and ‘twinkle twinkle’ with joy in my voice till I reached up to last page.

I move to the next shelf labeled 1980 and saw my primary school textbooks. The English Reader, with stories of William Tell, the Hindi textbook containing stories of Dhruva and Shravan Kumar. I noticed the corners of the pages- some were torn, some twisted, and some missing.

I started reading the first page of Hindi textbook. It contained a poem in the praise of God- ‘Eesh Vinay’. I started reading the word ‘Jisane sooraj chaand Banaya, Jisne taaron ko chamakaya….’ till my eyes filled with tears.

While reading the tale ‘The Thirsty Crow’, I thought, “Did I really understand this story then? Do I understand it now any better?” I did not have the answer.

The 1980's shelf contained some comics too- Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajaal Comics and Chacha Chaudhary. I pulled out an Amar Chitra Katha and started reading what uncle Pai had to say to me thirty years ago. Reading about the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, sacrifice and tolerance, I wondered if uncle Pai’s teachings had made me a better human being or disadvantaged me undermining my survival skills in this jungle of a world. I had always thought “The righteous always wins at the end, like Phantom and Mandrake do”. However, I didn’t know if I would still believe so, after reading again the 30 page comic now.

Image courtesy

Moving towards the shelves labelled 1990’s, I saw my middle and high school textbooks. These were in better condition, indicating that these were read sparsely, especially the Mathematics textbook; though the paperbacks containing tales of adventure, love and deceit were in bad shape, having been read many times under the blanket.

The next shelf had thick hardcover books, mostly written by foreign authors in incomprehensible language. I understood…. my college textbooks. These books were  ‘seasonal reads’, read only twice a year just before semester exams.

Image courtesy staticflickr

The Basic Electrical Engineering book had a rose in it, given to me by her, and now dried and flattened. She used to pass me a rose in the Electrical Engineering class. And I always waited for it to come from the other side of the classroom. True that it interfered with my comprehension of transformers and motors, but that’s how it was.

These were the books I hadn’t taken seriously even then, so there was no question of taking  then seriously now.  So I moved ahead.

The 20XX labeled shelves had some management and self help books. The ones which I had bought with enthusiasm in the initial years of my career. These were bought with my own money, but had never been read properly, nor were the learnings implemented. Interestingly, there weren’t many books there. “This is when I started losing touch with books, and getting more and more into Facebook,” I reminded myself.

Coming to the shelf labeled 2014, I found it almost empty with an ipad and kindle lying in one corner.  I remembered the half-read e-books in ipad, with the reading terminated by my bestial urge to update my Facebook  status nineteenth times a day or  publish 500 tweets in a day for the benefit of humanity.

“I wonder how I call myself a well-read person”, I thought.

The reality dawned on me. My library was getting emptier and emptier.

And I was not sure if I had really understood well what I had read in the books I possessed in my life ever. I wondered “Will I be able to understand them better if I read again now? 

I did not have the answer.

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This post is written for Indispire in indiBlogger for following prompt
“What would your dream library look like?” #DreamLibrary

Pictures are symbolic, only for illustration. Their source is mentioned near the picture with a backlink.


  1. I always think that 9gag, Facebook memes, Youtube videos etc... have made me person with a really short attention span. I no longer can read books like I used to when I was younger. Since I challenged myself the last year, I somehow did better - read about 45 books. Have not read even one in 2014 :(

    1. Dude, 45 books in one year! Congratulations! If I read 10 I will be too happy with me. Great going!

  2. Loved the way you talked about memories through books. And how true you are when you said these lines about half read ipad and kindle laying near the bed. No book could give a feeling of reading in satisfaction when its felt in hand. The hardbound are my favourites and I love books (esp. novels to read) when they exist in its physical form.

    1. I can see Uma, that you love to read books. And that's why you write so well!

  3. Totally love the flow of this post !

    1. Thanks Ananya for letting me know that you liked it!

  4. This was really a treat dude. Rekindled my memories. Very neat and very fast.

    1. Thanks Rio. I believe that you being an author yourself , must have read a lot .

  5. I love the way books feel. It's not the same with kindle.
    Loved the way you have described memories associated with the books.

    1. Thanks Kiran, for letting me know that you read and liked my post!

  6. Really true. Book reading has met this fate, Saket...for all of us...
    Great real story :)

  7. This is the second post I am reading Saket. Like in the previous post, I see wit, creativity and a noble message in this one too. Too good! I was reminded of the books and prose texts of my own school days.

    1. Thanks Nandhini, for reading and appreciating my post!

  8. Hi Saket,
    I have participated in the My Yatra Diary travel blog contest and have referred your name in my post as it requires me to mandatorily invite fellow bloggers who I think can participate which again is not binding upon you.
    Just thought of informing you.
    You can delete this comment as it is irrelevant on this post
    Mayura Rao.

  9. Its such a lovely dream, The kind you wish you had more often no matter how often you have it.

    Pages off Life

  10. I love that you've included comics in your list. Its like no serious reader would be caught dead admitting to liking comics unless its Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman or Marjane Satrapi.