Bookmarked

I grew up in a fairly small-sized house. As a kid, at times, I thought of it as a challenge and wished that my father should have gotten us a bigger place to stay. After completing graduation, I moved out of my hometown. I got a nice job or two and moved to cities like Delhi and Mumbai. There, I stayed in much fancier and bigger apartments.
I tried to make up for the size of my childhood home by spending more money on rent and more time between those walls. Over the years, I earned enough to have more distance between the walls when I shifted from one place to the next.
As a writer, one thing that remained constant throughout these years was my love for reading. During the four years in Mumbai, I’d often pick up books from Crossword or the tiny bookstalls on the streets of Andheri. I’d be talking to my father over the phone later that day and telling him about the Jeffery Archer novel in my hand. He’d respond by saying – “Why did you have to buy that one? We already had it at home.” He’d even share the spoilers for fun.
Nevertheless, that phone call always transported me back to my childhood home and, specifically, to the one-third of that house that my father had filled with books.
There were multiple closets lined with fiction novels by authors such as O. Henry, P. G. Woodhouse, Hemmingway, Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, Frederick Forsyth, and many more. I particularly remember this green cabinet built inside one of the walls that did not take space inside the house yet had ample room to host a hundred classic authors. It’s funny how I struggled to find space for books in my new apartment, but he had managed to have a mini library for us.
An established writer himself, that was one gift he had quietly bestowed upon his kids. He instilled the habit of reading in us quite early.
That gift stayed with me through the years of growing up. When I was on a flight to Delhi for my first job, it was with me. It gave me company during the nights in Lucknow. It kept me entertained during my daily local train rides in Mumbai, and more importantly, it made me who I am today.
I could never complain to him about not buying a bigger house, but I will make sure that one-third of whichever home I stay in will be reserved for books.
I once wrote about preferring paper books to Kindle ones. A few of the readers mocked me by calling me anti-technology. I do not blame them. Maybe, they never got to smell the musty old books and be transported into another time. Perhaps they are unaware that one could ‘favorite’ special corners in their life with a bookmark so that their future selves can revisit that space.

Time, space and her

What happens when you fall for someone at a bookstore?

I wonder if books gossip about us later.

I shared time and space with her in that old book cafe.

The classic authors stood witness to our awkwardness.

We drank some tea, some ink,

and then some undercurrents of emotions.

We had everything but words.

Like lonely bats cutting the night in half,

our thoughts walked around the room in circles.

Our souls could defy gravity,

but our feet stumbled at the edges of conversation.

The words were supposed to be our seatbelts,

but we were already falling.

She shook her head and laughed a little,

And that was the poetry I’d never know how to write.

I could only float from one moment to the next,

and hope that she was there in all of them.

Drunk on the clusters of hope and desperation,

I opened one book and closed one self-doubt.