Books are windows to the world and beyond. Nothing new, we all know that. But books sometimes hold surprises other than the plot twists. At times, they open doorways into lives of other readers. A postcard, a short note, a library stamp, a bookmark and other such things sometimes fall out of pages, providing a connection deeper than the words of the book.
Recently, I was collecting books for the crowd-sourced library that I am working on. Cartons of books arrived from various places, some even from the other side of the world. These books were not bubble-wrapped, fresh out of the press or even remotely new. They had been read, loved, re-read, shelved, borrowed, lent, and some had even been in battles with toddlers. They had survived and carried with them pieces of someone else's lives.
One pile had a book with a list of names and hurried notes scribbled across about things to get for a party.
I discovered bookmarks from various hotels. Someone had picked up this book at the airport, snuggled up after a hard day and found solace between the pages. There was another with a sticker that declared that the book had been a prize to a child for winning a competition at school. If one listens closely, one can hear the applause and smell the pride. One pile had a book with a list of names and hurried notes scribbled across about things to get for a party. Somewhere, a parent was rushing to the store with the list, juggling between one more chapter and trying to make the party a success.
There was also a postcard in one, in a language I couldn't understand. So I made up different things that the sender must have written to the reader. The reader probably re-read it, kept the open book on the chest to smile and think about the writer's travels before using the postcard as a bookmark. What if there were tears instead? I'll never know.
"Tea-party at 3.00 pm. Bring Dolly along," declared another handwritten note, complete with an address from London. The writer was probably a youngling with elaborate high-tea plans. These finds are one of the reasons why I love to frequent second-hand bookstores. You never know what you'll find. There are hidden treasures waiting to find a new home. If one is lucky, a book that had been in a family for generations could end up on one's shelves. The books that have been out of print, or simply not stocked because they are not "interesting" enough, the first editions, the limited editions -- all can be found somewhere in the pile, obscured by a fine layer of dust.
Recently, one such picture found its way on the online reading group I manage. One of the bookworms that haunt the group regularly, Sujatha Govindankutty, recently posted this picture in the group. She found it in one of the books she had bought from the books-by-weight sale in Victoria Street, Bangalore. Most of these books are imported from England or America where the libraries have discarded them. So in all probability, this picture got used as a bookmark and got left behind. And hence the strong urge to return the picture to its owner was born, along with the warm feeling of having connected to another reader probably on the other side of the world.
If you know the people in the picture, post a message here. If you don't, just share this post as widely as possible.
Ever since the picture was found, the members have been sharing it on their social networking pages in the hope of locating the people in it. This, here, is my attempt at making a connection to another world through a book. So if you know the people in the picture, post a message here. If you don't, just share this post as widely as possible.
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