The other day, my colleague and I both wore the same pin. It was one of a girl with a ladybird in her hair, reading a book. When she saw me with it, at the moment the only thing that flashed through my mind was this — does this look odd to you?
Somehow, I always think that pins and tees we don bear our little affliations. But I don’t think I ever was that reading girl, not as she is.
As a child, I was shy, somewhat uptight because I was very unsure of how one should be in any situation. Of how we should act, or say things, or not do anything at all. Talking to people only revealed how inadequate I was, so I tried to improve on that, but it backfired at me most times. It still does, when I forget how to be myself.
Books became a place where I could look into people’s exciting, jubilant lives, where they had chums and picnics and camping trips and solved mysteries together. Since they weren’t that many books available when I was growing up, they were reread into pieces. I sometimes compensated with my father’s newsstand Silverage and Amar Chitra Katha comics, and my mother’s pattern books, also reread until they burned into my memory.
They mean so much to me, but they also represent leisure, as I loved whiling away doing nothing for entire afternoons, reading. I liked my reading to be fun and as light as possible.
Fast forward to the future, to the present and here I am working in a bookstore, the weight of books bearing down on me. When I first joined, I was so put off with the idea of children’s books as educational tools. I came to realise that since children are blank slates, everything is the classroom. Books are special because beyond the covers, they give children so many varied views of a world — some they may experience for themselves, or at times, they never encounter outside of a book.
My philosophy became like this (before I got married and had kids) — remember when you were a kid, when you look at those shelves. One of my bosses said that once a children’s book buyer, will always give precedent to it. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I love children’s books. However, since I was also assigned lifestyle books sometime later, I had to walk out of my box and see what the big people were up to.
It’s been fun, so I wanted to share this love, this continuing journey, this search for a new book.