>There was a time when I used to await the postman’s arrival eagerly. In the late nineties, when emailing hadn’t quite caught on, and in the early part of this decade, when a friend and I refused to succumb to the impersonal, frighteningly quick transmission of events that took much longer to transpire, I looked forward to finding a thick envelope in the letter-box. I’d tear it open eagerly, trying to be as careful as possible but soon giving in to curiosity, leaving unsightly gashes across the envelope and leaving it just about fit to return the letter to for future sessions of re-reading. You know those lovely long afternoons when, on a sudden fit of inspiration, you pull out old stacks of paper from dust-laden shelves, intending with uncharacteristically stern resolution to throw away everything that you don’t need- and at the end, the pile would perhaps be just a couple of sheets thinner, and you’d have ended up a lot richer for it. I love reading old letters- they carry the whiff of sky, sun and eucalyptus-scented winter breezes, of a childhood happily spent.
And now, while I don’t have a postman to wait for, I do have another messenger- the man who delivers my books from the library. I love the texture of the plastic-covered, well-preserved books as they are pressed into my hand, more often than not new and unread (which is when I’m grateful for Chetan Bhagat’s popularity); I sit down with them, puzzling over which to begin, admiring the covers, studiously avoiding the blurbs and saving the introductions for the last. (I have discovered spoilers in introductions earlier, and because I don’t quite like skipping them, considering someone has worked hard on them, I just leave them to the end.)
So now, tantalisingly piled up on my bookshelf, lie Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, a Rabindranath Tagore omnibus and Pallavi Aiyar’s Smoke and Mirrors, a book on China that I’ve been wanting to read for very long. Lovely how you stumble upon books you really want.
Time, then, to set the pile receding.