Posts Tagged ‘books’

With you, without you..

May 1, 2018

[Following is a translation of a letter from a collection of letters “तुझ्यासह आणि तुझ्याविना” by Dr. A. H. Salunkhe.  A well-known figure in Maharashtra for his scholarship of Sanskrit and his work in the Bahujan Movement, Dr. Salunkhe is an acclaimed author of many scholarly books.  This collection is one rare book where he wrote about his personal life, his love for his wife, after she passed away of cancer.

To me, this book is even more special.  It was a book I had gifted to my girlfriend, who later went on to become my wife, on 14th April 2007, first anniversary of me expressing my love for her.  Also, having personally met Dr. Salunkhe, I know what a kind-hearted person he is, and bearing a loss of this magnitude must have been very painful for him.  I wish him immense strength to bear with this pain. I also wish him a long, healthy life so that we can get more of his guidance.]

My copy of तुझ्यासह आणि तुझ्याविना

Madhushree,

My craze for books was ever since I was a kid. I know, in the early days of our marriage, because I was crazy for books, you had to put in a lot of planning to buy household things. Many a times, you would create something useful from scrap, but you never came against my buying books.

You wouldn’t forget the story of our wedding ring. Indeed, as a wedding ring, I should have kept it close to my heart all my life. But I couldn’t stay attached to it emotionally. It was not even a month since our marriage that I sold it and reached International book store at Pune Deccan Gymkhana. From that money, I bought Siddhant Kaumudi on Panini’s grammar, Brahmasutra Shankar Bhashya, Nirukt by Yaskacharya, Rigved Samhita, Naishadheyacharit, Shishupalvadh, Raghuvansh, Dey and Dasgupta’s History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, and many such books from there and the stores nearby. In fact, I would have sold even your ring, but it was spared more than once because of your emotional connect to it. I understand selling the wedding ring within a month of wedding must have been real painful for you.

Many a times, I think I shouldn’t have done that. I should have cared for your feelings. But, Shree, what else could I do? I was trying to complete my M.A. in Sanskrit. As an external student, it wasn’t possible to access college libraries. There were no other libraries available. I had no option but to buy those books, and I saw no other way to buy them. It’s not that it wasn’t painful for me to sell the ring. Now that you aren’t here, with that ring in my finger, I could have imagined your presence, could have felt your touch. The pain of selling that ring, something that I couldn’t feel so much while you were alive, feels so much now behind you. But what can I do now but to ask for forgiveness?

But I tell you – I always feel grateful for that ring. Whatever Sanskrit I could learn in my future life, its base was formed on the books that I bought from selling it. If I couldn’t get those books at that time, perhaps I couldn’t even be an MA in Sanskrit; let alone all the achievements in the future. Whatever I am today, it is out of many such times when I crumpled and crushed your feelings. How can I forget this gift of yours? How much restrain you would have used? In that tender age, how could you bear with this craze of mine? Or it was that you were in love with this craze itself? That it was this craziness that kept you in love with me?

Even in the later days, you would tell many times to my friends, “my husband is not married to me, but to these books.” Apparently, it seemed like a complaint against me, but more often it was about immense pride and happiness. If there was any regret, it was very little. You never read any of my books in continuity, but you would say with pride, “I haven’t read any of his books, but I can talk about the contents of any of them.” It was true. You never needed to leave your chores and read them. It was only a printed form of whatever was discussed in the household, and it was natural that you never felt the need to read them.

But one of your complaints really hit me in the heart. It made me feel like a criminal in my own eyes. It is about this incident happened in the last 8-10 months of your life. I was looking for some reference; I was trying to explain something with it. You were sitting nearby. You needed something; you asked for it. I didn’t hear you. It’s not that your voice was low. I was so engaged in finding that reference, I didn’t hear what you said; like your voice didn’t fall on my ears. Your words lost into thin air. I don’t know what you might have felt that time, but it got you, and you said irritated, “my husband can’t think of anything but books!” This went straight to my heart like an arrow. I came out my trance, left books, pen, paper everything and came to you, and gave whatever you wanted. You became calm soon. In the illness of about 18 months, it was only two-three times that you lost your cool; it was one of those incidents. Perhaps that day you could no longer bear the pain; perhaps you could have strongly felt that I should come to you, talk to you, calm you, share your pain. Perhaps you felt hurt seeing me not even listening to you and it brought up that outburst. Of course, you were in all your rights and your anger was reasonable. But, Shree, what could I do? Mine was a hunger of a person starving from a hundred generations. From there, came this devouring, this harshness of ignoring you.

You do know about my fully immersing in my reading and writing. At home or at some public place, in trains or in bus, wherever I think of something of note, I write it down then and there; it’s what I always do. Even while I rode scooter, if there was something to note, I would stop the scooter, note it and then go ahead. I have been doing this for long. I’m always worried lest I forget and lose that point later. At times, if I forgot to note something and then it got lost, I could do nothing, but to regret that I didn’t note it. If the noted chit gets misplaced and lost, it pains a lot, like I have been robbed of something valuable. Once I was thinking of something while in bus, Hyderabad to Nanded, 7-8 hours continuously. What is the exact nature of ‘self’; a lot of thoughts were pouring like heavy rains that day. I was noting the whole thing in a diary. Later some day, I was at an STD booth in Dhule and lost the diary there. I could never remember those same points again and I lost them forever.

I can’t tell where some thought would occur to me. For this reason, I always take care to keep paper, pen with me. You know that. Even while sleeping, I keep paper, pen under my pillow. If I had to write something, I would pull out my hand under your head without breaking your sleep and note down the points. I have done this for years. Many such points that I wrote after taking my hand under your head are scattered across many of my books. These points occur even today. Even now, I keep paper, pen under my pillow. But now I don’t have to take out my hand under your head. I don’t have to worry about breaking your sleep. Everything else is the same, only you are not here. You are not; neither to dote on my craziness, nor to complain about it. If you had stayed, not only to make playful complaints against me, but even to make serious complaints, or to make harsh criticism, or to protest against me, or even to condemn me, my heart would have been filled with flowers of joy. I would have drenched myself in the showers of happiness. But you didn’t.

[Original letter titled as शंभर पिढ्या उपाशी असलेल्या माणसाची भूक in the collection].

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List of books I started but could not complete

October 31, 2014

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov It’s all very recent.  It’s not because I did not like the book.  It’s not that I’ve abandoned those books and I will never pick them up again.  It was just because I felt too lazy to keep on reading.

I am making this list just to make myself feel “ashamed” about not being consistent with my reading so that I would perhaps read some of them.  It is also to make a point that I should not start a new book  unless I finish the one in hand.  I know not all books are cover-to-cover read, but still I wish I could make it a more disciplined thing.

Here, the list:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It was a second read this time.  I’ve read this years ago in Marathi translation.  This time, I wanted to give it a fresh try.
  • The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.  Again, this was a second try.  Last time, I had finished half of it.  This time, it was just one chapter.
  • Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally.  I started this after watching the movie.  Later, I thought I should reading some standard book on this topic, so I left this one and picked up the next one.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.  This was really going good.  It’s about 2000 pages (including ~400 pages of notes and references.  I had already finished 100+ pages when I left it.
  • That’s it! I think I need to gather up myself and start doing one thing at a time.
  • P.S.  Plan of action for now is to start with the “Collected Stories” by Gabriel Garcia Marqez.  Again, this I had started and left after reading one story (which was actually so good, about a boy who dies at the age of 3 and keeps on growing in his coffin etc).  I’m not being able to finish a novel, I will try to finish a story at least.

Reading campaign for myself (and for those interested)

November 13, 2013
  • Read at least five novels before a fixed date, say my birthday, July 14th.
  • Decide the novels in advance, before you start the first one. No bar on language. You can select from the ones you’re thinking to read for long, but couldn’t start somehow. Get the list ready before you start actual reading.
  • Obtain the books. Find some library, or buy them. Buying is easier than borrowing. You need not buy all five at once.
  • Read.
  • See that you complete the target, and enjoy it.
  • Set a higher target for next campaign.

Again, National Book Fair, Kasturchand Park, Nagpur

September 30, 2012

Some 10 months ago, I had written about the National Book Fair held at Kasturchand Park, Nagpur.  I had bought 11 books—bulky 1800 pages—back then.  I read some of them, and I left a few.  And here comes back the National Book Fair again.  It’s currently being held at the same place.  It has become an integral part of my being in Nagpur and I have been visiting it consistently for 10 years now.  My patterns of reading have changed; the trends of my book-shopping have changed; what has not changed is the same enthusiasm with which I rush myself to the fair as soon as I know of it.

People enjoying going through books at National Book Fair Nagpur.  This fair has become an integral part of reading culture in Nagpur over the years.

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Off to reading the History of Medieval India

September 16, 2012

I have torn a book in three.  I should have done this much earlier.  I had a big old copy of “An Advanced History of India” by Majumdar, Raychaudhuri, and Datta—a tome of 1100+ pages—1990 print.  I tried to read it several times, but could not do that with any consistency with its size and huge scope.  The book covers the Indian History from pre-Vedic ages up to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.  Due to this wide spectrum of period, and due to my personal inability to hold on my efforts over such a long read, I could read only parts of this book here and there.  In an effort to manage it in a decent way, I tore it in three, and what I am going to read is only part II, viz. Medieval India—from around 1100 to 1750s. AD.

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On getting “India after Gandhi”

March 27, 2012

My copy of "India after Gandhi" that I just got from Flipkart.Just got a parcel of India after Gandhi from Flipkart as a gift by Kailash.  I had put it on my wishlist a couple days ago and Kailash promptly made a purchase for me.

Here I am with an about-900-page nonfiction book, and I am overwhelmed with two exactly  opposite feelings at the same time.  I want to devour it all in a go, and at the same time, I want to imbibe myself into it dip by dip.

This would be the straight third book revolving around the same subject that I would read after India wins Freedom by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Freedom at Midnight by Collins and Lapierre.

Got the book, felt it all over, read the front and back pages, preface, reviews, even copyright page, and everything that I can do before actually starting it—and still feeling its brand new smell!  Oh, I can’t thank Kailash enough!  Oh, I can’t wait more to finally read it!

See you soon!Red rose

P.S.  Just in case if want to read my previous posts about books.

Of a wonderful evening and National Book Fair

January 8, 2012

What what what a wonderful evening this had been!  I just went out for a Sunday-evening ride and saw an ad of National Book Fair held at Kasturchand Park, Nagpur.  This is a yearly book exhibition fair and I kind of wait for this fair every year.  I saw the ad and then what could stop me!  I had only 100 rupees in my wallet, but said “let’s see” and made my way to Kasturchand Park.

It usually takes me more than three-four hours to go through the fair, more than 100 book stalls each with thousands of books.  Although conscious of my wallet size, today I had thought of only a short stride.  And Look what I came back with:  Eleven books, more than 1800 pages!  I could not resist.  Chose the books, talked to the shopkeeper, went to an ATM, got the money out, paid, and done!  Very unlikely of me, I took all the books from one stall only, by National Book Trust.  They are wonderful people, consistently publishing standard books, and a lot of nonfiction!  I picked every book like pick-at-first-site, without even bothering to peek through it, like I was looking for them all my life.  And look what I came up with:

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Books, internet, and a giant wheel? It’s really random!!

October 15, 2011

I love books, I love the feel they give me while reading, it cannot be felt such while reading books on screen.  It’s fine when we cannot get hard copies, may be the book is rare, or too costly, or just you don’t want to buy it, but still there is nothing like reading a book, in printed characters, on paper.

Definitely, my net habits have affected my reading a lot.  I stay online almost 12-13 hours a day everyday, may be for work, and then for my personal use too, blogging, random surfing, social networking, uploading photos; reading has taken a back seat, it’s unfortunate, really!

A giant wheel at Dhantoli, Nagpur

I had been to a book exhibition at Shankar Nagar today; brought a novel by Sane Guruji Ramacha shela (रामाचा शेला); I really wanted to read something by him other than Shyamchi aai (श्यामची आई).  At this moment, I should have been reading the book, in print.  I am instead tuck-tucking here.

On a different note, sharing the picture of a giant wheel I pic’ed last Sunday in Dhantoli, Nagpur.  I didn’t get a chance to upload it earlier.  Giant wheels look good only from a distance.  I am afraid of even the thought of sitting in it.  So, I have look at it, from a distance.

N.B. Clicking on the giant wheel will take you to Panoramio photo page, if you are interested in exactly where the photo was taken, to be precise, it was taken at 21° 8′ 5.88″ N  79° 5′ 4.24″ E.  Good Night 🙂

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Thus it befell…

June 22, 2011

So as it befell! Baba had told me the last time about the used book shop in Sakkardara where they have library facility available. Take books home, read them (or do whatever you want), and give them back–at the expense of just Re. 25 per month. The idea itself was so fascinating that I was like looking for some free time to go and grab this opportunity. But life has gotten so busy (you know it); I hardly come home before 9 or so, so I had to keep on postponing my plan to join this offer. It is a small book shop beside the Sakkardara flyover and I knew they have just a little collection, but whatever they have, the subscription amount was so humble and the option of leaving was open all the time.

So as I finished work early today and I had nothing to do after having a roadside chicken biryani (which was all good except the chicken, and after having that I felt I must not keep myself on starvation otherwise), I finally made my way to the book shop. The guy there did not seem much enthusiastic about getting a new customer to his library. He was busy talking with some XYZ about how to get the failed paper passed through reevaluation in university. I went over the books that were kept out for show–not many–just 15 to 20 books! I asked him if this is all that they have, he said that they have much more kept inside, so I finally convinced myself to get attached. After going through the out-for-show books–Cathcher in the Rye by J. D. Sallinger, some Paulo Coelho, and some usual stuff like Arvind Adiga, Chetan Bhagat, Robin Sharma (I never understood why the hell he sold his Ferrari)–I picked; The Elephant, The Tiger, and The Cell Phone by Shashi Tharoor, and approached to that I-have-nothing-to-do-with-you-type guy! I asked him about any formalities, ID proof, etc., he just looked at the book turning it all around and said “keep 500 Rupees deposit!” The book was a used one! Though it’s original price was 400-something, it was on sale there for Re. 120. I asked him why such a bit deposit when I can formally join a good library in much less deposit than that, he said “what if you didn’t show up after taking the book?” I had no answer. I asked him, I want to buy it. For reason unclear to me (and I’m sure for him too), he said “No!” So I returned back and consoled myself with googling The Elephant, The Tiger, and The Cell Phone.

So thus it befell. What else??

My Wishlist:
1.  Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Sallinger.
2.  The Elephant, The Tiger, and The Cell Phone by Shashi Tharoor

Love, Life, and a Book Fair!

June 15, 2011

I am happy today, really!  And this happiness is mostly because I found myself happy after getting out of a book exhibition.  Usually, it happens that I come out of the book exhibitions sad and depressed.  Previously, it used to be such, because I could not buy the books of my choice just because of my low budget, but for the last few years, there had been a strange reason for my post-book-fair sadness.  It was no more the problem of low budget, but now I knew whatever I had bought, I could hardly read – for lack of time and more so for the lack of interest!  This lack of interest was killing.  I have been a kind of bookworm for all my childhood.  I remember I used to devour all the textbooks of my sisters who were years ahead to me in school, and not only language books for stories, but I remember reading history, science, and even math books.  I still remember my excitement when my father gifted me the Arabian Nights after I passed my third grade exam and Sindabad was the first fictional character in my life.  I still remember how I waited for my seventh grade exam to end, because I wanted to read mathematical puzzles book that I had kept hidden in the library itself so that no one should pick it before me; and also the days when I used to read five novels in five days, sometimes even in moonlight on summer nights as we didn’t have electricity in our village back then.

But I lost almost all of this in the last few years.  I go to book exhibitions as a drunkard going to the wine bar, sometimes involuntarily, just because I cannot stop myself.  I walk through the book fairs; now I can afford buying books, so pick a few of my choice and come out.  The books just lay untouched at home.  I take them, put my name and the date on the first page, and then put them somewhere to never take again.  And this lack of interest kills me the next time whenever I hear of a book fair somewhere in the city.

The books I got from Novelty Book Fair, June 15, 2011

I got them from a book exhibition today at a good discount!

So as I heard of a book exhibition in Dharampeth today, it was really something that made me excited for a while, but then the thought came –“hope it won’t make me sad again!”  All the time I was working, I had a constant thought about the exhibition.  I finished work almost one hour ahead of my scheduled time and was now free to go there, but it was raining out heavily and I was in a bit hesitation whether to go or not.  A colleague asked me to drop him home and I almost canceled my plan to go there, dropped him at Manewada, and came to Krida Chowk, just a couple squares away from my home.  I was just about to reach home, but all of a sudden had a change of mind, turned about, and went all the way back to Dharampeth.

It was quite a small exhibition as compared to the yearly National Book Fair at Kasturchand Park, but still a definitely decent-sized (occupying a two-story block) and nice one than I had expected it to be.  There was a nice collection.  Don’t know why, there was no light on the ground floor and we had to light our cells to explored thorough the books.  It was a dreamy journey.  This time, I picked Marathi books, mostly because thinking about the untouched English tomes at home.  Out of the whole lot, I picked what appealed me:  Indhan by Hamid Dalwai, a novel based on a Konkani Hindu-Muslim social background; Vyasparva, an analytical treatise about the characters of Mahabharata by Durga Bhagwat; and Mitwa, a collection of literary critical short essays by Manik Godghate, Grace – the first two were those I always wanted to read and reading Grace is anyways going to be a treat.  I am so excited about reading the books, I am just playing with them, opening and just looking at them, as if I want to sense them in every way possible.  I can nowhere sense the lack of interest in or around me that usually grips me after a book fair visit and I am happy, even before actually starting to read, that I am going to read them.

So buddies, wish me the best luck – I’m gonna be on a dream wave this week, with my love, my life, my books!  Wish my interest remains intact, rather grow and reach to where it had been; and wait for a few nice posts about this dream journey!  See you soon 🙂