She didn’t like dolls or Barbies. They weren’t as cool as those remote control cars that her brother had. So she asked her parents for one. They gave her a bright pink car. She hated it. The next day her parents found her playing with her brother’s blue one instead. Plus, he seemed happy with her pink one.
They touched. They stood by each other. Words brought them closer even with different genres. They knew that their home was temporary. An interesting looking species would come and tenderly run fingers over them. And then they were adopted. “Where did they go?” The waiting books wondered.
Misery was desire. Hope was the creator of hopelessness. “Take it one day at a time,” she trained herself. But sometimes too much happened in a day. And then there were the times when too little happened. “I guess it’s about taking in every moment,” she concluded.
She felt more than others. It got her into trouble most of the time. She thought about saving the world. Feeling helpless wasn’t her thing. Sleepless nights were normal. When they told her to narrow her focus, she knew she was in the wrong place.
She dreaded the moment. It was cold and dark out there. The touch of his fur and soft purring kept her in bed. She turned the alarm off while muttering some expletives in three languages. Then an hour later the furry kid woke her up with sounds of scratching and playing. She could never be harsh with him.
Tapas couldn’t believe it. Moving from a big city to the little town of Golepur had been hard enough already. His mother reminded him, “Babu, we’ll come visit during Durga Puja.” But Tapas was not ready for this news; Golepur did not have a library!
His father believed that his school books were enough to keep him busy. “You can pay attention to your studies now,” he told Tapas. Mother was a bookworm so she understood. Patting his shoulders, she said, “We’ll find a way.”
So Tapas attended school and came home to warm food and a bath. Then he spent all evening doing his homework. Sometimes he felt annoyed because there was no new book waiting for him by his pillow. Every night, he read before bed time. It was a habit that he’d picked up from his mother since she first introduced him to the local library near their house in Kolkata.
Tapas looked at the stack of books on his table. He ran his fingers over the spines, each chapter memorised. He could describe every scene without opening a book. Still, he was bored and used to getting a new book every weekend.
“Mother, don’t the other kids like reading storybooks at all?” He hoped she would say yes. But she shook her head. “Babu, not everyone likes doing the same thing but I’m sure some of the kids here like to read.”
That evening, while Tapas read his lessons and solved his sums, his mother visited the neighbours. Indeed some of the boys and girls spent more time reading books than playing on their computers. She had an idea. So she visited one more person on her way back home – the head of the building committee.
“Hello. I am Mrs. Gita Bose from the 8th floor. May we discuss something?”
The gentleman said yes and they spoke about the neighbourhood children. “I know that we already have a separate area for them to play with a ball and run around, but what about exercising their minds?”
“How can we do that?” The committee head wondered.
“We can build a little library in the common room,” said Tapas’s mother.
She left after five minutes and a cup of tea. Meanwhile, Tapas was done with his studies for the day. He sat by her as they both read books. The phone rang. Mother ran to answer it. She smiled and said thank you. Then she came back to the sofa. “We’re going to make a library,” she announced.
Tapas jumped up. He was excited but confused. Mother told him that he and the other kids would donate all their books to start it. “And some of us adults will certainly have books for your library too,” she added.
So the next day, they carried three large boxes of books to the common room. Father came along. He and another neighbourhood uncle were preparing new bookshelves for the room. When they arrived, there were four more children and their parents. “We may have too many books!”
Father was joking because he knew Tapas would reply. And he did. “There is no such thing as too many books. Right guys?” The others nodded. Everybody got to work. They all munched on cookies as the parents made sure everything was in place. “Time to put the books in their places, kids,” said Rani’s mother.
Tapas and the others took turns filling the shelves with their treasured books. They chatted about their favourite books and authors. Payal loved historical stories as much as Tapas did! Ronnie disliked mystery books just like him. By the end of that day, Tapas had new friends and many books to share. They even created library cards for every neighbour, along with a register to keep track of the books.
“I’ll save up my pocket money and buy a computer for us,” said Tapas. “So will I,” said more voices. The library was already a success.
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)