Homing instinct

Last week, a dear friend gifted me a personalised, autographed book by M J Akbar. The book prompted me to count my blessings. Friends, books and knowledge have always come hand in hand. Radha Kannia gave me my first book and thanks to her Ms Enid Blyton changed the course of my life at seven. Company of books became a sure way to remove myself from everyday life and reading was about the only thing that I could do right the first time. The harsh truth that life without books could be dominated by anxiety and loneliness set me off hunting for them. Recognising the desperation Malathi Badami, my class teacher allowed me to borrow books from the school library over the weekend, which was most definitely a special act of generosity.

Mary Corelli’s ‘Thelma’ was given to me by Meera Mukund (which I lost subsequently and have been unable to trace) and from that point friends took on the responsibility of keeping me loaded, a load that was gladly carried. Many a book had to be returned and that was done diligently, albeit reluctantly. Prasanna, who had lent Giovanni Guereschi, perceived this and when she had to relocate, the very same books were given away as parting gifts. These books continue to remain priceless company!

Colleagues haven’t disappointed me either and have continued educating me, buying books at railway stations and airport lounges simply because the titles reminded them of a myopic bookworm. A new colleague, barely a few weeks and fewer encounters old, handed over ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’. My amused expression was met with trust-me-you-will-like-it look and she was right. Works by Arundathi Roy, Shashi Deshpande, Rafiq Zakaria, Meghnad Desai, Bendre, G Krishnappa, Oscar Wilde, Girish Karnad, and many other writers were delivered to me by fine people.
While being extremely grateful to all my friends who’ve generously educated me, I unabashedly request them to keep their acts of magnanimity going! As Mary Ann Shaffer says in her book ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’, “…perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers!”

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