Monday, 2 October 2017

The Bookmark

It was a cold night. And very quiet. Everyone had gone to bed after a tiring day. But sleep is evasive in old age. That day also I woke up in the middle of the night and sat on the bed wondering what to do. You know I can tell you from experience that whenever you feel kind of blank with no idea what to do next....just get up to drink water or visit the loo. By the time you are done, you know what to do! I am not kidding. Try it out. 

As I walked towards the kitchen, I passed my grandson  Abhiram's room. The door was closed but....I could see the light peeping from the crevices. This boy. He always falls asleep with a book in his hands and the lights on. Good, I woke up.

I opened the door slowly to avoid making any noise. In winters, even the slightest sound, especially during nights can be heard loud and clear. On opening the door, I found that Abhiram was awake. He was dreamily looking out of the window. A book lay open in his lap. The full moon was sitting on the window sill in all its splendour. Suddenly, he became aware of my presence and gave me a startled look.

"Still reading Abhiram? Is that a very interesting book?"

"Yes, Dadi." His face lit up and there was a twinkle in his eyes.

"What is it Abhiram? Will you tell me about the book ?" 

"Something more than the book Dadi", he said in an excited voice. Then suddenly he realized that it may not be a good idea to reveal the secret. So, he became serious and he said,"Nothing Dadi. Just something funny in the book." He looked away. He was on his guards now.

I sat down on the bed and told him that I was keen to know about the "something more" and wouldn't it be fun to share a secret with Dadi who was as curious as he was to know about strange or weird or adventurous things. This relaxed him a bit. He turned towards me. When he felt reassured, he moved closer to me and snuggled against me as he put the book aside. 

We sat quietly for a few moments savouring the warmth of the quilt and imbibing the calm of the night. Then I said, " How about calling Ma and Papa also so we can all enjoy your secret?"

There was a look of alarm on his face and he exclaimed softly, "Shhh! Don't tell anyone!"

Now I was kind of worried. What was the matter?

Abhiram smiled when he saw the puzzled look on my face and said," Dadi, there is nothing to worry about. But I want to tell you only because it is about books and only you understand and love books like me."

As the frown disappeared from my face, Abhiram started talking and it felt as if a boat had set sail in the river on a moonlit night.

"Dadi, remember you used to read to me every night when I was very small and could not read myself?  I simply related your narration to the pictures in the book and the whole thing became very real for me. When I grew up and started reading on my own, the stories I read actually started unfolding in front of my eyes whenever I sat alone and thought about them"

"Dadi, it was like magic! Even without any pictures in the book, the stories presented themselves just like a movie to me. I loved it."

"One night I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that the characters I had read about before going to sleep were sitting all around me. They smiled amiably and started talking to me. They were very wise. They answered many of my questions and taught me so many things. I started enjoying their company."

"Every night the magic starts when everyone falls asleep and the house is quiet. I look forward to these meetings and I don't want them to end."

Abhiram was silent for a while as I looked indulgently at him.

He spoke again, "Dadi, I tried telling Ma and Pa once but they laughed it off. Even my friends call me crazy. But you believe me, don't you Dadi ?"

I patted Abhiram's head gently and thought how the two book lovers in the family bonded together in a way only they could understand. 

My eyes were moist as I told Abhiram that I did believe him and that he could trust me completely. This is exactly what happened with me too when I was a child like him. There was nothing wrong with it. Books that are written straight from the heart connect you to the characters and thoughts enclosed between the pages. They become as true for the reader as they were to the writer. This is how a legacy of knowledge and perception is passed on from generation to generation. 

Books from all over the world help you to discover new worlds within you. Reading a book is exploring your inner landscape. Not all can experience this drama of emotions. Those who can, have a fertile imagination. A thought is sown and it grows by and by to bear fruit in the flowering season. You are a lucky boy to have been blessed with the special ability to communicate in this manner.

But remember that just like the seasons change, so do the experiences of life. One day you will grow up with this secret in your pocket. If you learn from the books you have read and don't forget to translate images and thoughts into action, you will always have this magic wand between the pages of your life which is called a bookmark.

Abhiram and me, the two conspirators in the night smiled knowingly at each other. We felt embraced by the warm glow in our hearts. We were all ready to turn the page! 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

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