Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just books

If I sit still, I can hear the leaves shivering gently in chill puffs of wind.

If I sit still, I can see the moth flutter faintly in the darkness.

If I sit still, I can feel the moon beams leave dewdrops on my skin.

If I sit still, I can remember. Remember nights from my life, sharp as starpoints, soft as moon haloes, nights of beauty and joy and contentment. And so I try to return to the time before I learned to read, to the time when bedtime meant snuggling up to mother for stories and security and comfort. Ah those days! A blink of the eye and night returns, warmer from those heavy quilts , those stories told softly, that cozy embrace...

Isn't it strange then that I should have no recollection of those stories? I know that I heard countless stories - but I don't remember! It is a loss I feel all the more now that it is my turn to tell the stories. In a strange way, it is my love of books that has perhaps led to this state of affairs: because I read my books so many times, I lost the ones I had only heard but not revisited later. It is a loss I deeply regret.

Neverthless, books are an abiding love that I can not give up on. And today's post is - as an exception - going to be solely about books. A bit of a hotch potch too, let me warn you, because at this time of the night I can't really think straight, certainly not enough to unravel the subconscious threads that may join one memory with another. Or to formulate meaningful links between two topics. Take it as a basket of old books at a garage sale, if you will. Rummage and you will find a treasure or two - but only if you love books enough to go through them in the first place!

'Vintage books my kid loves' is a blog I have but recently discovered, and much though I envy all these book blogs which talk of books I don't have, I still have to read them! And share! I am not particularly partial to vintage books, but that is because I am partial to books of any vintage, any form. As long as there is printed paper, I am hungry for it. The only two things which keep me from buying all the books in the world are price, and space. (Pity that both are so severly limited...) But old books have a charm all their own. I like to have books with history, to hold in my hand something printed in the last century and feel awed at the number of people who might have read and enjoyed that book. Perhaps it also gives me a feeling of being connected to all those bibliophiles before me who so lovingly preserved that book. So I especially enjoyed reading about the old kid books on this blog and looking at the photos posted.

Similar little squeals of joy emanated when I discovered 'Golden gems' - the blog which has high quality scans of these 'little golden books' and other illustrations. What a beauty! It is so much fun to look at these paintings/drawings - and sometimes you can almost read the whole book! The only drawback, of course, is that clicking each photo is a rather slow process...

Eklayva is a NGO, based in Bhopal, 'that develops and field tests innovative educational programmes and trains resource people to implement these programmes. It functions through a network of education resource centres located in Madhya Pradesh.' I could summarize more - but as I said, the labour laws of my brain require it to be shut down now, so you'd have to go to their site to check out more. But I have been meaning to write about Eklavya for a long time now because of the children's books they publish. We met them in a book fair, and liked the four little books we got for about Rs. 15 each I think. Unfortunately, although they do have an online order form, and a list of publications, I haven't bought any more because I like to actually look at a book before I buy, and they don't have any outlet outside of Madhya Pradesh... Today I find that they have a hindi flip book online - great! Hope there are more to follow. Even detailed descriptions and a one page sample from each book would suffice to encourage more buyers online though.

There are more where this lot came from - but nope, my mind has totally packed up, and as I have to be up in another three hours, it is time to call it a day! To make up for my ramblings, here is something you might enjoy -

William Makepeace Thackeray

There lived a sage in days of yore,
And she a handsome pigtail wore;
But wondered much, and sorrowed more
Because it hung behind her.

Se mused upon this serious case,
And swore she'd change the pigtail's place
And have it hanging at her face,
Not dangling there behind her.

At length "Eureka!" was the sound,
Said she, "The mystery I've found --
I'll turn me round!" She turned her round;
But still it hung behind her.

Then round and round, and out and in,
All day the puzzled sage did spin;
In vain -- it mattered not a pin --
The pigtail hung behind her.

And though her efforts never slack,
And though she twist, and twirl, and tack,
Alas! still faithful to her back,
The pigtail hangs behind her.
Smile, and keep reading - books!


Janet Brown said...

Much to think about in this post! And odd that you featured a poem by Thackeray because when I remembered books that I loved before I could read, one of them was The Rose and the Ring, Thackeray's children's book--Belinda, Countess Gruffenough, Angelica, and Kutzoffheadsoff (sp?) still haunt my imagination!
Janet from The PaperTigers Blog

Swati said...

Yes, Belinda is something I like as well :)