Boxing Day treat

In Books on December 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm

This Boxing Day happened to bring delightful gifts for us – from our older selves! During my move across two continents and three countries in the last three years, my most steadfast companions it turns out had been boxed away – out of sight and clearly out of mind. I’m talking of books!

After obtaining some semblance of stability and a few bookshelves, we decided to unpack the “book boxes” of which there were half-a-dozen heavy ones. Opening them gave us a glimpse into what time travel may feel like. Its almost as though three years ago I boxed up these presents for my future self. Nothing compares to the feeling of meeting up with old friends, except perhaps the joy of opening up boxes – that childlike excitement!

Surprisingly, we were reminded that books are not just sheaves of paper bounded within two covers. They come with a whole universe of associated memories and experiences. Hidden in many of them were small notes from friends, receipts, bookmarks, notes, telephone numbers, boarding passes (plenty of those!)  and other little milestones. With each one came an opportunity to relive yet again a sunny afternoon on the street somewhere, a lazy Saturday morning on a couch, the smell of some bookstore, or the sight and soft words of quaint old booksellers, and of course coffee shops (not the Dutch kind!) – All memories that a Kindle can hardly kindle !

Hidden away in the treasure trove were some of our favourite books like the PHAIDON on Gandhi by Peter Rühe.  A random flipping through brought us to page 113 – a picture of Gandhi’s luggage at Boulogne (12 September 1931) en route to England for the Second Round Table Conference.

Gandhi declared to an inquiring French customs officer that his “earthly possessions consist of six spinning wheels, prison dishes, a can of goat’s milk, six home-spun loincloths and towels, and my reputation which cannot be worth much”

How ironic that this emerged just as we were in the midst of buying more stuff to store the stuff we already own!

Nonetheless, it has been a great joy to have pieces of our past selves reappear on our bookshelves, and in this season of renewal, learn afresh the subtleties of change and constancy.


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