Archive for February, 2010


It’s got to do with smells!

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” – Henry Ward Beecher

Books, plants, wildlife and journeys – though not necessarily in that order, have been wonderful contributions from both sides of my family

Way back as I can remember, I always seemed to have been excitingly swathed by books, magazines, forests and music. These were my refuge from the world. I even had a favourite tree where I had built a machaan and invariably that’s where I would be found, lying on its rickety but firm floor, reading a book or just ‘wandering’  from an elevation and stepping  into another world all together. It was marvellous!

I need to find a tree.

There is no doubt that I have always been closer to my maternal family, but this passion for books comes largely from my father and my uncle – my mother’s eldest brother. Both travelling in some other space now and I hope that they have blue skies, a book and a tree wherever they are.

What a mesmerizing childhood I had! When I look at the younger generation these days – I wonder if their parents even realize that they are attempting to give their children everything except the skill to read. And yes, I am so glad that there was no TV, no FM radio, no mobile, no video or cassette player when I was growing up. I was surrounded….and when I say surrounded, I mean ssssuuuurrrroooouuunnnndddeedddd with images that enthralled me. There was nothing more exciting than waiting for that next issue of the exceptional number of children’s magazines that were available – Bal Bharati, Rajabhayia, Chandamama, Young Classics and later Indrajal (I still have the first 50 issues)…yes, we were allowed to read comics!

As one grew older, we were introduced to the tilismi world of ‘Chandrakanta’, ‘Bhoothnath’, ‘Sagar Samrat’, ‘Lal Panja’, ‘Kala Chor’, ‘Safed Shaitan’ – espionage and science fantasy novels written first by Devkinandan Khatri and later by Durgaprasad Khatri. The Harry Potters of today are mere shadows of these masters. Add to this list the gripping tales and escapades of Biggles, Sherlock Holmes, Fatty, Famous Five, Secret Seven; Wilkie Collins, Marriot, Dumas, Tolkien……the inventory is endless! They were full of magic and fragrance!

I think it’s got to do with smells.

Once somebody came to my house and looked at the collection of books I had in a room and said, “Don’t worry if you can’t get a regular job, you can always sell these books and make a lot of money!”

It was one of the most idiotic comments made. Sell my books? Sell my books? Sell my books?

Why would I want to sell my books! Oh, I do agree that there are still some books with me that I haven’t read completely…but it’s like, love…I am slowly falling in love with these books and waiting for the right moment to know them better. I keep them next to my pillow; look at them every day; open them at random; brush my fingers over the print; caress the book; allow my yearning  to grow; inhale the essence, and yes I guess, then it is love and it is got to do with smells.

If you really care to think about it, love is a smell.

Continue reading ‘It’s got to do with smells!’


The Mission

“…the privilege of absurdity, to which no living creature is subject but men only.” – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

The alarm shattered the stillness of the night and rudely jolted him out of his sleep. Automatically, his arm groped for the ‘off’ switch. Click!

Peace prevailed and he slowly slipped back into slumber land – but not for long.

Someone was persistently trying to twist his foot to another angle. Groaning, he got up, opened his eyes and in the dim light of the night-lamp saw two ghostly faces floating inches away from him. This cleared the cobwebs and also shot his adrenalin to a high level.

“It’s time,” mouthed one ghost in a familiar voice.

It took him some minutes to recognize the sister-in-law and the mother.

“Urrrrgh…” he cleared his throat and tried to protest feebly.

“It’s time.” Hissed one of the faces again with great intensity.

“Eh?” he said, wondering what really the time was and sat there with his mind blank and mouth open. The sister-in-law sniffed disdainfully and lanced the mother with her usual ‘Explain-to-this-imbecile’ stare. The mother flinched and then impaled him with her usual ‘How-can-you-do-this-to-me’ glance. Then, as if on cue, they both turned and threw looks at him that would have made Yamraj hide his face in embarrassment!

Continue reading ‘The Mission’

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February 2010
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