Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Book So Amber

Summers of childhood were always special for I spent a whole of two months in and around my hometown Mangalore doing what I liked the most.Clouds hovered over damp and tiled roofs amidst many arecanut and coconut trees,once they started sweating to fight the heat it would rain incessantly forcing us children to stay indoors for the rest of the day.It was then that I used to dig Grandpa’s old cupboard and my mother’s rusting metal trunks in the attic and the little dungeon behind the staircase,giving some company to the bandicoots and rats .

During one such excavation on a silent afternoon when the rest of the members of the house were catching a nap after a sumptuous meal,I rolled out a sack from the store room in the backyard.To my surprise what fell on the floor were a pile of old books, papers and letters.I must admit that till then I never knew how much my mother loved words and writing.Picking up a dusty amber coloured  book and a diary of hers with loose sheets I ran towards the living room where she was sleeping.I woke her up to show what I had found.Despite my irritation,she read a few poems penned in her diary.It made me happy and proud.She looked at the book in my hand and asked me where on earth I found all this,and when I told her about it she found my adventure a little impish but nice.She told me that the book was a teacher’s gift during her college days,for he appreciated her writing skills.And even before I asked her she said with a smile‘You can keep the book’.
As a kid tales fascinated me,the likes of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Alice In Wonderland’,so much so that I dreamed of being stranded on an isle building ships or getting lost in the wild jungles chasing butterflies.Books made me live stories which could never happen in my life.My  mother was happy too,not because it kept me quiet but for coming to know that I had inherited her passion for reading.My father and brother are losers in this regard.You never know what does and what does not run in those genes!

I kept the amber book safe,my loot after all.It made a difficult read in those younger days I must say, thank my lack of comprehension.After many years I chanced upon it during a routine cleaning and then I made up my mind to give it a try.When I flipped through the moth eaten and tanned pages,a sweet smell of old papers welcomed and took me to a different world altogether,Russia precisely!The book titled ‘Anton Chekhov, Volume One, Stories’,a compilation of Russian classics by an English author has each story narrating something fresh and fragrant.My favourites being ‘The Grasshopper’ and ‘Gooseberries’.The seal inside the book said it was picked up from Navakarnataka Publications way back in 1982.My mother tells me that in those times Russian literature was a great thing happening in India.

In a matter of few days I was familiar with the wagons, orchards, gowns, suits, quills,paintings,lamps and the tongue twisting Russian names.I read the book with a curious admiration because it gave me a connection,especially the three signatures in the initial pages; my mother’s, her teacher’s and mine [mine at the age of ten! Probably I felt I was gifted with a grand inheritance!].You can see them in the picture.

Some passages are underlined in a pink ink,the same with which her teacher has put his signature.They made me wonder what thoughts would have arisen in his mind and what made them so beautifully important, and this very feeling made me smile.What is different about the book is the dramatic environment it creates which makes the characters in the plot very palpable.Little events of life are described in a captivating detail.There are no heroes in these stories,all characters have a fair share of weaknesses and strengths.Every day human pursuits are crafted and layered with simple words.The book is magnet.It portrays emotions with a strange tenderness,happiness and grief alike.It can force a reader into a Russian shoe's and make him live his life,completely different from his own.Unlike a coffee table book,the stories need subtle attention or else one can see stars in the day.

There is an amazing thing in common with all writers,no matter which land they come from,their love for expressing what they feel is priceless.Here are a few lines from the book,I think they make a lot of sense when we talk about the world be it of the past,the present or the future. 

“We are accustomed to live in hopes of good weather,a good harvest,a nice love affair hopes of becoming rich or getting the office of chief of police,but I’ve never noticed anyone hoping to get wiser.We say to ourselves,it’ll be better under a new tsar,and in two hundred years it’ll still be better,and nobody tries to make this good time come tomorrow.”
If there is one book that will pinch my heart when it shall part is this.For now it is lying safe with the others in my closet waiting for its next heir,the book shall go to the ones to whom it rightfully belongs when time comes.I will not really mind if I have to give it to someone for a read [with a hope that they return it back!] because I believe that even a line small yet sensible has knowledge worth sharing.I do read these stories at ofttimes in the night because someone has rightly said about friends,books and wine;the older they are...the better.

On an ending is a poem I wrote a month back...

Paper And Ink

 "These are not books,lumps of lifeless paper,but minds alive on the shelves.From each of them goes out its own voice and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music,so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it,one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space,and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind,heart to heart"~Gilbert Highet.


Friends of Books - Library that delivers and I connect with bloggers at


Beyond Horizon said...

An awesome read...relived some past doubt books r best companion...dey hide emotions in dem 2 :)

विवेक Call me Vish !! said...

its was great way to react bt writting!! i loved it !! keep on ....
plz visit at my blog and say hows ur thought....

Jai Ho Mangalmay HO

Raksha Bhat said...

@ Beyond Horizon: Glad you liked the post!:)

@विवेक Call me Vish !!: Thank you!

Bikramjit said...

robinson crusoe wowow you reminded me of that , that was the FIRST book I ever bought , second was treasure island :)

nice one ...


Raksha Bhat said...

@Bikramjit: He indeed was awesome!!!

bhagyareema said...

Brought back memories. Of reading Emma and Pride and prejudice again and again int he long monsoon days.
Of summers in Mangalore when I used to love watching raindrops falling on the tiled roofs.(alaa now there are very few of those houses)
Nice read

Raksha Bhat said...

@bhagyareema: Glad to have you here and thank you for liking it:)

Anonymous said...

Liked the poem really. Nice way to end a good blog post.. so that it lingers in reader's mind..

Raksha Bhat said...

@annasrp: Well,I had written the poem a month back...thought it makes more sense here with this post and so the link:)Thanks for liking!

Bedazzled said...

lovely that a copy of mahabharata on your shelf ??

Raksha Bhat said...

@Bedazzled: Thank you:)..the picture is just around a 1/20th part of my shelf;)..and ya the book is the English version of Mahabharata by C.Rajagopalachari...gifted by my school after the tenth standard results:)

Moonbeam said...

Lovely post Raksha! I cannot imagine life without books!

Alli Potter said...

Hello, my name is Alli Potter. I am the personal assistant to bestselling Young Adult indie author Imogen Rose.
Kindle just went live in India and we are so excited! I was wondering if you would be interested and so kind to review one of her books on your blog?
There are two options I have for you (whichever you think sounds more to your liking):

Come Find Me Two Years Ago...

Six words that propel ice-hockey-playing tomboy, Arizona, into an alternate dimension.

She suddenly finds herself living the life of a glamorous cheerleader. She finds herself transported from her happy life with her dad to living with the mother she hates.

Everyone knows her as Arizona Darley, but she isn't. She is Arizona Stevens.

As she struggles to find answers she is certain of two things -- that her mother is somehow responsible, and that she wants to go back home to her real life.

That's until she meets Kellan...

PORTAL is the first book of the Portal Chronicles.


Welcome to Bonfire Academy!

Set in the foothills of the alpine mountains in St.Moritz, this exclusive private school caters to a special kind of student. Enter at your own risk... but if you are human, you may not want to enter at all.

WARNING: This YA story is set in a school for paranormals who are very different from normal human teens. Thus, the language and some scenes might not be appropriate for younger YA readers. Recommended for those sixteen and above.

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back from you!
Thanks so much!
(You can find out more info on the author if you would like by clicking on one of the links under my name).

Alli Potter

Personal Assistant to Imogen Rose