Friday, September 26, 2014

The trash books

We all have them.
The silly detective stories, the lame lawyers, maybe some romantic ones, some tragic, some funny, written in the simplest of languages, appealing to the masses.

But sometimes we forget that we are the masses!

These books are there on our bookshelves, hidden from view, or maybe given a small little space to settle and keep quiet in.
The trashy books - the absolutely mindless books, the books you read when you are just about done with War and Peace and have decided to start with History of God. Sometimes you need these books even  when you are in the middle of a book, say Dante's Divine Comedy or The Illiad.

These are books you don't buy online or in Crosswords, but at flea markets and exhibitions. They are the ones with a torn cover, or the ones whose cover page, or maybe even some page (s) on the inside is missing. (And trust me, a few pages missing here and there make no difference to your understanding of the story). These are the books with something written on the inside - something as silly as "this book belong to - ".
The pages are worn and these books have exchanged hands many times. They have traveled a diverse landscape to fall into our hands.

And if only books could talk, these books would be the ones with the greatest stories to tell. The things they would have seen, the number of places they would have been, the odd set of people who would have owned them. To have seen so much and experienced so widely, what would the freshly printed, cover bound books, mass produced and distributed through online and retail stores have on them? The horrors of a warehouse maybe, and the love of one person? That's it!

Turn the pages of these "not so fancy" books, and let your imagination wonder. Check the inscription, "given to Yaseen, love Appa", so maybe this book was gifted to a little girl by her grandfather and she loved it. And then when she grew a little older and could travel by herself, she took the book along.
I remember in a home stay in South Africa, i had finished reading my book and had borrowed a book from the owner, however i could not complete it before i left and the owner asked me to take the book with me, she said books are never meant to be returned. So i took the book with a German woman's name on it and left my book there, with my name on it. i wonder how far that book must have traveled? Definitely, more than me!

So, maybe this Yaseen is not an Indian, but is from the exotic (chaotic now) Middle East and she left it on her trip to Mumbai at a restaurant. Maybe, a waiter at the restaurant, who was learning English saw it and decided to take it. Let's call him Vijay, and maybe it helped Vijay, because these books are written simply, to be understood by everyone and enjoyed by all. That's why they can travel everywhere so easily, because they appeal to everyone, because they are open to everyone.
 And then let's say Vijay decides to visit his family in Pune and takes a bus there. And maybe, he forgets it on the bus and the person sitting next to him picks it up. Let's call this person Rahul, and assume he is an IT professional working in Pune, back from a harrowing time in Mumbai and he has found his salvation for the evening. He decides to have a quiet evening at home with his "not requiring immense concentration" book and it sounds perfect.
Let's say Rahul does not complete the book at  night and decides to carry it with him to the office to read in the cab. Once he gets to office, he sees that his company has organized a flea market for recycled products, the proceeds of which are going to charity. And employees are encouraged to donate anything that they can! And he is thinking  : So that's what was on all the green flyers being distributed at the office for the last week. He decides to put his book in there.
And then there is me. And i happen to read in the paper that there is a flea market being organized, so close to the restaurant where Sagar and I have made reservations for our Sunday lunch date. And i decide to drop by.
I roam about the place, and reach the book stall. I pick up the book randomly. I AM a little exhausted by the book i am reading right now and i think, this is perfect. A "silly" book to get my mind all re-energized. And so i decide to buy it. I know this is going to last for 2 days and then i can go bac to my "real" book. Hah! Am i glad i found this little flea market. I decide to take a few more books while i am at it.

I glance inside my first book, and secretly thank Appa for gifting this book to Yaseen.

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