The Bookworm Turns.





I remember playing ‘ library- library ‘ with my kids years ago. An underused room was converted into a reading room cum library. Two mats joined together constituted the display area. Books were lined up side by side, according to authors and genres. All the Enid Blyton adventure stories formed a row. The Enchanted Wood family, Pink Whistle, Mr Muddle and Mr Twiddle formed another. The classics, (all hardbound), held the pride of place. White Fang, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, The Invisible Man, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Railway Children.....so many more. Poetry too. Nonsense verse, limericks and doggerel. Ogden Nash and Edward Lear. Also outliers like the William Series, Jennings, Billy Bunter, and the upstart Harry Potter. TinTin and Asterisk contributed to the colour. Tinkle the lightness. BQC quiz books added heft. The kids would man the station and meticulously note down the details of the borrowed book. They would encourage visitors to browse before borrowing. Attention would be drawn to new additions, with a brief synopsis of the story. Wooden stools scattered across the room encouraged lingering and relaxing. We created happy memories, which I hope, hold them in good stead for times to come. Libraries are magical places. The sights and smells of a favourite library are forever etched in our minds. Old treasures are rediscovered, and new writers are explored. We travel through the books, but also with the books. Secondhand books have stories to tell, for their journey can be found in scribbled footnotes from distant places. History and geography of the previous reader as an added bonus. To spot a stranger with your favourite book is to find a friend. So many perks to a mere visit. Libraries will be missed in this new Covid universe, but the return of the library and the small indie bookstore will be the moment where ‘all’s right with the world.’

Sarita Talwai can be reached at Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarita.talwai)

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