“When it was a library, no one came. And now when the books are being sold off, swarms of people have been gushing in”, said the man at the counter in a melancholy tone. There was despondency in the air, for the library that was set up with such a refined taste for the collection of books and the infrastructure alike, was breathing its last because of lack of readership.
While a plethora of such episodes ensue daily, I was moved by this one particular incident because I was a spectator to it. On the way back to college, I justified its closure to a friend on account of the deficient publicity. On the face of it, it seemed right, only to be pronounced farce by later retrospection. Are we not to blame for it?
It’s a sad commentary on the bombastic switch of Gen Y’s interest. Where in the league of time pass, prior position has been allocated to watching tv series followed by movies, and while reading books has been accorded the back bench. I bet the current hot topic doing the rounds is regarding the latest tv series being watched. We are in the time when “White Collar” is not about shirts; “The Big Bang Theory” has nothing to do with the explosion that lead to the creation of the universe; and that “The Game of Thrones” hardly has any game in it. I cannot forget the time when people could just not talk beyond Vampire Diaries, where girls suffixed their middle name as Salvatore. My ex-roommate, bitten by the same phenomenon, only recently stuck a poster of the VD “demigod” Damon Salvatore. I can only thank my stars that she decided to do this harkat when our rooms changed. Imagine, waking up each morning to see an expressionless guy in a girly collar V t-shirt staring at you! Now that’s a nightmare.
Yes we still have a lot of book lovers, but this category too has been dominated by the “flipkart” types. Asking them, when was the last time they set foot on a library for a pure literary adventure, would only be a sheer disappointment. A week back, the ‘eX-man’ of my life exhibited mounds of pity on me for having missed the “Jaipur Lit Fest”, but ask him had there been no ‘fest’ and only ‘lit’, had he still been so enthralled to have made that journey to Jaipur. Yes, he would have seen a great many writers there amongst the festivities and fanfare which actually drew him, but was he even remotely aware of any of theirs literary masterpieces? I already have my answers. I remember, on my first date, I had voluntarily tortured myself to sit through “The Woman in Black”. On being asked what I wanted to do in the time we had spare, I offered to take him to the World Book Fair. That day he agreed, because he was most concerned to impress the beautiful lady beside him, while only recently was I told that while I was ecstatic to be in the sea of the friendliest, most helpful and undoubtedly understanding species, was he thoroughly bored. As I was told this, I can’t tell you how profound was the joy that filled up inside my heart that told me he had been already adorned with the nomenclature ‘ex’ and for the good! To be sober, let’s just say it’s their life and one should learn to respect it.
Talking about myself, I’m the sort of person you will find carrying novels to class, who reads two-three books at a time and to whom the greatest turn on factor is getting lost in a library diffused with the aroma of old books. My classmates were bewildered two days back, when I sold off my International Business Notes to collect money to go for a book sale. Some might have considered me cheap, others daft, that’s their point of view and I appreciate it. All I know is that the books I bought from that money gave me much more happiness than what international business could have ever bestowed upon me.
A bibliophile, as many call me, however, I too regret having started reading only too late. Because there is a time to read a particular theme, say Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, which I can only now fulfil through my kids. And imagine, the era to which we are heading our children won’t even know what was once a ‘pustakalaya.’ Where all the libraries would be converted into museums by government, because the then ‘having too much money but too little time’ parents will instead of driving them to the non-functional library, redirect them to the web address of flipkart and the like.
Such an apocalypse awaits us, dear comrades, if our lethargy and satiety for the non-literary masterpieces continue. So get up, go check out the nearest library, get lost in the world of books and save another library from being shifted to the ventilator. Be a bibliomaniac and live it up!