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)

Saturdays at the Library

The bookstore was her toyshop. She spent Saturdays sitting on the floor, hungrily running her hands over the spine. Mother would be busy choosing grown-up books nearby. The child wondered when she could read those too. Time flew by faster than her favourite chocolate did in her hands. Carrying a bag full of stories, she left wishing every day was Saturday.

Love in the bookstore

Her friends found love at parties. She wasn’t a fan of parties. When people asked her how she expected to find love, she said that it would find her. It was a bad hair day and she’d pulled on the first clothes she could remove from under her sleeping cat. Her trip to the bookstore was as exciting as always as her eyes feasted on the new and old titles. She almost missed his admiring look when they stood by each other, reading the same book. It was love.

Borrowed Books

Her bookshelves decorated the walls. Spines of various colours stood out in the sunshine that came through the windows. She had spent hours here, running her fingers over the titles. If she caught a speck of dust on her beloved possessions, she would clean it away immediately. Only one section bothered her; it was the shelf that had two empty slots. She never should’ve let them borrow her books.

A Late Night

It was getting late. The new book was waiting by her pillow, just thirty pages read. Two soft blankets were spread out in anticipation. The ball of fur on top of them was purring softly. He was tired of waiting for her. “This was my first party in ages,” she apologised as she changed into her pyjamas. He ignored her. The book stayed closed to show disapproval. But when she slid herself under the covers, the feline child readjusted himself between her ankles and the book opened itself in her hands.