Of Cabbages and Kings

March 18, 2007

Of books and baggage

Filed under: Personal, Random musing — Chinmayi @ 3:52 pm

I ran into some childhood acquaintances today – Baba Yaga, Mr. Silly, Mary PoppinsWilliam Brown, Teryosha and Chellappa, Puliyamchedi Rakhshasa – I cleaned out my bookshelf. My books have been spreading gradually, encroaching first on my desk, perching on the radio and nestling between perfume bottles, and finally clambering onto my bed. And while I am perfectly happy cuddling with The Night Watch and a Wodehouse, I find that the pleasing proximity of books to one’s sleeping quarters and related causes and events tends to result in an extremely alarming open invitation to invasion by all sorts of insects who display an unhealthy curiosity about one’s pillows and blanket. So the books had to be evicted.

All day I have clambered up and down my tall bookshelf, lifting-down, wiping, spraying and laying paper. After twenty three years I find (and this is an awful awful thought) that one cannot carry all one’s papers and all one’s baggage with one – there’s simply no space for everything that accumulates. So after a life-time of hoarding I have had to choose. The old math workbooks and biology lab drawings have been thrown out. Family Law and Law of Torts textbooks along with passing-fancy books such as something on the Kabbalah or on the Arthashastra have been stacked in a corner right on top of the shelf. My mother’s books have had to squeeze into whatever room was available on her bookshelf – my heart bleeds for them and the crowded squalor in which they reside, but they shall be safe, dry and insect-free until they are able to follow their owner to her new apartment. The most difficult were the old friends – Baba Yaga, Teryosha, Ozma, Mr. Silly, that old devil Chellappa and some others had to give way to newcomers like both Christabels (the original and her namesake),  Turkish Red, some other pompous sounding stuff and a whole lot of other (more frivolous) words that are as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate. I hope my little cousin who will soon receive all those books that I have hoarded and jealously guarded all these years) loves my old books as much as I did. If she does, I might be induced to part with Dennis* and Mary Poppins – I’m not feeling inclined to do so at the moment, I could cling to them forever.

Isn’t it awful to grow up and find that you have accumulated so much over two decades that you cannot possible carry it all with you and that some of it must be cast away? It is a new experience for me. I have a sequined rubber ball that I made when I was seven – it’s silly and ugly now but I was awfully proud of it when I made it. I have cards from friends who describe themselves as ‘the Animal Pound’ (we were ten – that’s our excuse) and posters that people made for me on my eighteenth birthday.

I wish that we could all have a special space to keep the things we no longer use – the devils and frog-diagrams and music written for the trumpet (that I no longer play) that are so much a part of our soul that it seems absolutely horrible to discard them.

*Dennis is the best children’s book that I have ever read. That Victor Dragunsky really understands how a kid’s brain works…it is absolutely fantastic. The stories are actually available online! [found the link at this guy’s blog – bless all finders of beautiful books such as this one]

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