I am inordinately proud of my love for reading. I would read anything, even product labels, when nothing meaningful is handy. I harbour avarice towards people with huge libraries. It’s my animal instinct, I really can’t help it.
I belong from a family of moderate to ardent readers. My parents read as much as middle class working parents could, over the years drifting to other media. Older siblings and cousins were great influencers, unwittingly opening doors to the forbidden parts of the ‘printed’ world prematurely. I also happened to pick up like minded friends with literary inclinations.
But if I try to think of one person whose obsession with books made me look at them differently – it has to be Mamoni!
Mamoni is a variant of the word ‘Mother’ in Bengali. As the eldest ‘mother’ to my generation, she earned the title. Mamoni is many things – she is an avid traveller, an elegant lady, a young-at-heart romantic. But if I am asked to close my eyes and think of her, the dominant image is that of a curious mind buried in a book. I can vouch that Mamoni has not spent a day of her learned life without a book in hand. Her infinite curiosity coupled with her surprisingly sharp memory makes her a great substitute for Google. I would not want to face her in a quiz competition!
I have learnt from Mamoni to have a relationship with books – to explore and flirt. To sleep with them! She reads multiple books at the same time, a habit that has gotten engrained in me today. She haunts libraries, book fairs and book stores to mine out the unread. She tears pages from magazines that publish novels in instalments and binds them into a book. I worship all of it!
This is a thank you note to you, Mamoni, for being an aspirational bibliophile. Happy Birthday…