‘The Story of a Book’ has been edited by Aashna Kanuga.
As a bibliophile, I support the claim that a kindle could never give the same feel that a book can. For a topic to write on, I admit that it was not the most original or creative topic, the debate on it has been going on since forever. I did a little research and came across a lot of articles stating the same thing. There was this great article which covered almost all aspects behind this discussion but it missed one. The emotional aspect.
For a lot of us, its not just about a book being a book. Its about the memories it carries or about the dog ears on our favorite pages. About slyly removing other people’s bookmark or cursing that one friend who returns the book after months. Its about that ache you feel when your favorite character dies. My point is, that a book is never just a book, its always more. I have tried to cover this in the form of a short story instead of writing another mainstream article.
“Did you hear the headline, Ratna? Amazon Kindle sales up 200 percent. India and China will emerge as the biggest market for Amazon’s Kindle eBook this year. I saw its ad on TV yesterday, you just need to buy the device and you can read unlimited books after paying a minimal price.” said Aisha’s father, while sitting on the sofa sipping his morning chai.
Ratna, Aisha’s mother, answers from the kitchen, “Kindle seems too good to be true. Hum bhi ek le lete hai. Its seems to be very convenient and it is a one time investment. Aisha ke bhi kaam aayega.”
Aisha overhears this discussion, but chooses not to say anything and continues to play.
Later that night, Aisha lays in bed thinking about what she overheard this morning. Her amma, grandmother, comes in. She looks at the wall clock and jumps cheerfully. Its time for her bed time story.
“Which story do we read today, Aish?” amma asks keenly.
Aisha searches for her favorite book, which had a cover of a girl approximately the same age as her. She screams excitedly, “Lets read Judy Mudy saves the world!”
As she gives the story book to amma, she remembers the discussion between her parents. She looks towards amma and asks her gloomily, “If we get a kindle, does that mean we wont have these story sessions anymore?”
Amma says, “Arre no baba. Don’t you worry. No matter what, we’ll always have these bed time stories. As a matter of fact, I have something I want to give you.”
Amma takes out an old book from her drawer. Aisha could see places where the book was almost falling apart, where pages had been stuck back together with tape.
“This is the first book I bought with my own money. It has gone through a lot. I used to borrow old books from the family I used to work for as a maid. At that time, owning a book was very big deal. Books were very expensive and the reading culture had not been as extensively developed. Their kid had at least 30 books in his bookshelf. Oh, how much I loved to read them. I read about all these characters who seemed so like me, who made it big, achieved their dreams or found the perfect partner and lived happily ever. It gave me something to think about and something to hope for.”
She looked up with this gleam in her eye, and went on, “I saved up for months to buy this book. I still remember that feeling of taking the plastic off, the feeling of turning the crisp pages by my fingers which no kindle will ever be able to duplicate. From the feel to the slight hinted smell of the new pages, I loved everything about it. But the best thing about it was it was mine, that I owned it. I used to make sure that nobody touched it in the house.” amma said with a proud smile, “I finished the book overnight. Whenever I felt low, I used the book as a reminder that if the protagonist could do it, so could I. Well, I hope it inspires you just as it inspired me.”
I could see amma’s eyes well up and as she passed me the book. A tear fell on the cover, moistening it a little. The cover was beautiful. It had a girl’s shadow walking towards the sunset.
Its been fifteen years since amma has passed away , and every time I look at the book, I am reminded of the beautiful lady she was and how she has contributed so much in making me the person I am today. I hope to become like her one day. She was right though, there were a lot of uncanny similarities between my amma and the protagonist. Both of them were strong, hardworking and unforgettable women.
I agree, there are a few advantages of using e-Books. If you need to buy a book that you have to use for work and you won’t be using it more than a few times, it is easier to buy it online for a lower price. Also, if you are traveling and, if you are a bookworm like me, need to carry a dozen books with you. Yes, technology has made it easier for us, but there is only so much it can imitate. While I know that kindle might replace books after a few years, I still have a hard time believing that the advancing technology will ever be able to capture the true feel of the book.
All of us used to form a relationship with books that simply does not exist anymore. There were friendships formed while discussing the book someone is reading on the train. Lending a good book to someone felt like giving them a part of your soul. How can you feel such closeness to a thing that does not have a physical existence? Yes, books deteriorate with age. Yes, their pages crumble to dust. But there is no other feeling like holding a new book you are about to begin reading, or that book you happen to come across, bringing back unexpected memories.
Try to read a book again. Don’t let convenience take over nostalgia.