I think it been too long since I felt the weight of a book in my hands, even though it was only this morning that I finished one. I knew there was something missing while reading eBooks.
The pages of the book were yellow, several had dog ears. There were marks from pens blue, black, red and green, ticks, crosses, and other little scribbled words and notes that made it obvious that for someone, somewhere, this was a textbook. There were parenthesis and numbered lines, points for an essay question no doubt. There were double lines marking the end of section, and I remember my photocopies of notes that bear the same mark denoting ‘end of syllabus’. The point from which you skip the rest of the chapter, and look for the next topic to study.
I hate marks on my book. I even dislike the ridge that is formed along the spine of the paperback when you hold it too wide open. I don’t like the pages to be tattered, though I do not mind when the pages have yellowed with age. I scream every time I see someone nonchalantly put down an open book on its face. Or when they lick a finger to flip a page…
Its dark chocolate hardbound cover is held together by sticky tape, the spine carries the library accession number in white, pasted with transparent cellophane tape. This book awes me when I open it. I do not know what made me pull it out, because there was nothing written on it, nothign to mark it special – perhaps there was nothing all that special about it… My fingers lightly skidded over the spine and then pulled it out, one among shelves and shelves of books, and just like that, I’m transported.
It not only opens the portal of my imagination to the world it speaks of, it frees me to think of those who came before me – I see countless people pouring over it, some studying lines from places, others memorising a special bit they come across. Some chewing nervously on the end of the pen they twirl as they read. (Not a single one with a pencil however, why don’t people use pencils anymore?)
I like the smell of new money, new paper and new books. I also like the beaten and weathered – but not termite eaten – pages and the aroma that takes you to a different world. It’s like living in three realities: that of your physical being, the story that the book carries, and the romance of the book itself. What romance? The one that unfolds when you find a pressed white grass-flower, and you wonder what the book saw. Did a lover wait for another under a tree, nervously pulling up grass? Was it the only gift, and meant to be preserved? Was it just carelessly trapped by an impatient reader too eager to abandon the book for the outdoors?
Or did someone leave a message?