The fragrance of new books

The fragrance of new books

I began to notice the ageing pages with dog-ears growing at their corners

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

In my school days, I forayed into the adventure of savouring new books. When I was a child, I remember vividly, I had a peculiar fascination for books, especially new books. 

I was always eager for the opening of our school after summer vacation. This was the time that I would get new books-- both textbooks and notebooks. I would grab them so greedily and begin turning over the pages of the books curiously, smelling each page excitedly, savouring the joy of new books.

Smell, I always felt, was not the correct word to be employed to describe what my nose captured from the pages of new books. Fragrance perhaps is closer.

After entering the new class with new books, in-class during the day and at home after school-time, began my world of new books and my quiet joy of the new experience. Alas! This quiet, much-relished pleasure of mine hardly lasted long. This joy stayed with me for only a few days. Used constantly for reading, writing, pressed in the school-satchel, catching dust and absorbing sweat from hands, the books ceased to be new and no fragrance emanated from them.

I began to notice the ageing pages with dog-ears growing at their corners. I was terribly let down at my books growing into odourless, ageing things. What could I do, except looking forward to another, fresh academic year and bonanza of new books?

One day, I was noticed by my teacher in class as I was sneaking a sniff of my English textbook. The teacher thought I was hiding my face behind the book. She asked me, "What are you doing, covering your face with the book?" Startled, I lifted my face from the book and gazed at the teacher who was standing so close to me. I mumbled, "No, Madam. I'm not covering my face with the book.

"Then, what are you doing with your face in the book?" retorted the teacher. "I'm just smelling the pages of this new book, Madam", I answered rather timidly. Baffled and intrigued by my strange answer, the teacher shot at me again, "Why are you doing that?" "It's the fragrance I'm smelling from the pages of the book, Madam," I mumbled.

"It's not a flower," argued the teacher. "To me, it's just like a flower, Madam," I muttered. The teacher was a kind woman. She said, "That's okay. Stop smelling the book and read it."  I nodded my head obediently and smiled at my teacher. The teacher smiled back as well.

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