I never knew reading has such power. It was before publishing my first book that, I joined the library which was close to my house. I had a month before joining my research work. So, I decided to join the library and help them by managing books and records. Maybe, it was destined because it is through the library – I got introduced to my publisher.
As an avid reader, the idea to surround yourself with books itself is fascinating, a dream come true, for a reader. I was indeed lucky! One such story from my memory is about Gayathri Granny. It was a usual day. I was arranging the books back to the racks and the returned books – entered back into the system. Reading titles of numerous books was so exciting. I was so lost in books around me! Suddenly, I heard two people enquiring about something at the information desk.
An old lady and an old man, probably accompanying her, and he was kind of introducing the library to her in detail (I could guess that by his gestures). What caught my eyes was, the old lady. She was in her 70s and had a very cute, wrinkled face with a beautiful smile, and neatly pleated hair. Her hands were shivering but she looked very positive. She understood English but was comfortable with Tamil and Malayalam. So, I was there to help her. She began thanking me for the help and continued. She came from the old age home which was situated near to the library along with her fellow resident. She heard about the library from the people in the old age home and decided to take the membership.
I was actually stunned to hear that she wanted to take the membership and pay for the services. You may ask why I was stunned. It’s because when I heard her story, I was so inspired and it just took me back. I realised the power of reading and the zest she had at such an age.
What she told me… Before taking the membership.
She was living in that old age home alone. Of course, with her fellow residents. Her husband died in an accident, and she didn’t go any further with the legal formalities. She had no children and looks after herself all alone. What was left with her was the only house she lived in, which she sold and settled the amount into her savings account. She heard about this old age home and came down to settle in. The only money she has is from the savings account and living off with some interest.
And when she heard about the library, she immediately decided to come down and spend her time reading in the library and take some books to read in her own space. Reading was her favourite hobby and she told me, she can complete two books in a day. That much interest she had towards reading. I saw her confidence whenever she mentioned anything about reading. I personally knew that the membership was a little expensive. Even then, I explained to her the process and how many books she can take away and all the features. After giving her the details, she opened her good old brown purse and checked for the amount.
I saw her face shrink a bit. I immediately said, “It’s okay, I can pay for you.” But she insisted…
She said, “I will come tomorrow and pay the amount.” I did my best to convince her, but she stood by her decision. The next day, she was there to pay up and get her membership card. I saw that happiness on her face. A similar smile was brought to my lips. I was so happy to see her enthusiasm. She took my hands in hers for support. Her soft, wrinkled hand kept on shivering and I took her inside the world of books. Her eyes were gleaming as she saw all those books around her and started picking up some books simultaneously.
The feeling was mutual at times. Her happiness knew no bounds and me just seeing her happy face. Her cute face with that expression added a sense of contentment within me. I suggested some books and magazines for her and she took all the choices and decided on some titles to take away. In two to three days, she became a regular visitor and collected some titles and kept on reading. On my last day, she insisted I come down to her place, and I did. She blessed me with her best wishes and showed her gratitude. I still remember her cute face with her exciting smile. It always reminds me of the power of reading.