When I see hard-bound books which seem a million years old, almost like they hold in them a sacred secret that is meant to be known by chosen people of each generation, it immediately takes me back to my school library, the one place I will always remember with an instant smile forming on my lips. For some, the library is a place where love blooms, be it because of the mutual love for books or just mutual attraction towards the front-cover of a person, i.e., the appearance. For me, it was something else entirely. Ordinary people visit the library to feed their intellect. But what the library taught me was – happiness!
So, my school was weird in the way that we were allowed to enter the library and get books issued only when we reached the eighth grade, if I remember right. Before that, I can only recall being handed some classics I knew by-heart for about an hour in a year which probably only happened once. Turning thirteen was one of the best things to have happened to me by existing, thanks to a variety of reasons/people but the access to the library was definitely one of the highlights of stepping into teenage. I don’t exactly remember what my first book ‘ever’ was because I was always a bookworm (and will continue to be even though I have switched to e-books now for convenience as I believe that books are books even if they are on my phone) who would rather live in a fictional world than the boring real life that only seems to become more pathetic with age, but I do remember what my first book to be issued from the library was. I remember how most of us waited for the library hour every week, just to get another book issued because the one we took the previous week was devoured by our hungry minds within just a day. The rush to grab the most precious collections of Famous Five, Secret Seven, my favourite at the time – Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Malory Towers, St.Clare’s, Goosebumps and Agatha Christie books was as if all the bibliophiles in my class were asked to live the rest of their lives reading just the one book. My association with my favourite writer, the inspiration for the romantic novelist in me, Nicholas Sparks, began in the library in the most magical way possible. I would like to believe that I was destined to find a copy of ‘True Believer’ lying abandoned on the table next to the book-shelves, a place otherwise occupied by people who considered themselves too cool to get books issued and instead chose to watch old movies on the TV in the library for the hundredth time. I assume that the TV was put there because the probability that the students of the kind we were to stay quiet in the one place it was mandatory to, was quite low. Leaving aside all the reasons why senior high-school was the easiest way for someone to slip into depression, the fact that we could only get books of academic importance issued then, was a real blow to me. That was when I chose to stay away from the best place in school because the thought of being so close to novels and yet not being able to own them for a whole week and being captivated by the stories they told, that is what heart-break is to someone like me!
When my college life began, one of the first places I went to was probably the library. I was beyond disappointed to find, once again, my old nemesis, the books of academic importance, neatly lined up where, if I had a choice, the best of fictional literature would have stood tall and proud. Now, whenever I come across bookstores, even with their fancy arrangements that do not impress hardcore novel-addicts who are only worried about the plot, displaying the novels that once added colour to certain phases of my life, I can’t help but feel nostalgic and wish to go back to the old library. The college library is useful, I’m not denying that, but the books I get issued from there sure aren’t enjoyable! Even so, some of my friends find weird joy in searching for books for hours on end in the depressing place while I whine and complain. As for my best-friend, whenever she asks me to guess where she is, I’m mostly right when I reply saying, ‘The Library’ (for reasons that I bet aren’t educational)!