Today was a kind of evening for me where I had to wait for more than an hour for the arrival of my cousin at Patna airport. I waited at the airport hall. Being a small domestic airport, it has nothing much to offer for waiting people like me. A restaurant that I can't afford, a small canteen and a small shop for books, gifts, etc and a small hall with some seats is all that it has got. Wandering in the hall up and down and occasional ogling at the air-hostesses bored me after a few minutes. Buying a can of coke and drinking it near the canteen occupied me for another few minutes but what after that?
The small shop that had gifts, books etc remained the only other option where I could spend some time. But, the shop was too small for comfort and just couldn't attract me to inside it. There were books on display towards the outside through the window pane. I chose to stand there and look at them. Books and books and more books! There was Chetan Bhagat (If you are in India and at a book store, you just can't ignore this man even if you want to), Agatha Christie, M.K. Gandhi, Ayn Rand, Naipaul, Rushdie, Paulo Coelho and not to forget the self-help gurus (In Indian literature these days, if someone is worshiped just after Chetan Bhagat, these are those people) amongst others. The list neither signifies their relative importance, nor my choice of authors nor their abundance at the store. It only signifies my poor ability of remembering names. Standing there and looking towards the shop made me realise why exactly the term 'Window shopping' is called so. Its not that I hadn't window-shopped before but living at a place like Patna where there are no malls yet (it doesn't mean I don't like Patna, I just love it!), you have to agree that people here are not so familiar practically with the term. Window shopping is one of the thing that the mall culture has inculcated into us. Anyways.
Standing there and looking at those books, reading their title and the name of the author, I suddenly started feeling frightened by them. Faces came out of the cover pages and started to give me looks, strange looks, staring looks. They were asking me from all the directions why I don't read them. I couldn't answer them because they wouldn't hear me.
I managed to run away from there, terribly frightened and obviously thinking. Thinking again all those things that led to my last post here. I realised, I don't hate these books. In fact, at some corner of my heart, I even love them. I have always wanted to befriend them but have always failed too, sometimes out of paucity of time, most other times out of paucity of interest. I recollected all those times when I had motivated myself towards these books and found out that I still want to be a reading buff. In my last post, I questioned the necessity of such readings and here I admit that they might not be necessary but as a hobby, these readings are awesome. There is a definite hope that, in future, these books would become my friends.
With this hope, the announcement of the arrival of the flight came. I received my cousin and headed towards my home. Such a great time-pass where I rediscovered my love for these books was totally unexpected. Unexpected again was to find, just after reaching home, at my blogger dashboard, this blog from my following list which, in some way or other, was concerned with this habit of reading. Roberto Bolano, in his collection of short stories, The Insufferable Gaucho, has an essay, 'Literature+Illness=Illness'. A beautiful excerpt:
"travel, sex and books are paths that lead nowhere except to the loss of self, and yet, they must be followed and the self must be lost, in order to find it again, or to find something, whatever it may be - a book, an expression, a misplaced object........in order Rodin anything at all, a method perhaps, and, with a bit of luck, the new, which has been there all along".