I have taken a vow of abstinence from the book market, which since the advent of blogging has begun resembling a fish market where everyone is hollering to sell his dreams and nightmares alike. The social media is bursting at the seams with ‘authors’ ready to slap in your face their hourly litter at the slightest pretext.
No, it is not just the fact that the pile of unread books in this home is good enough to take me to La Luna, or that its natural corollary of unpaid sums on little plastic rectangles is threatening to touch the Red Planet even as the Indian Martian vehicle pants to enter a suitable orbit. The malady has entered a stage where the mounds of unread papers outweigh the pounds of pulp I can pull off per month by a ratio of five to one. It has led me to the unspeakable sin I never thought I was capable of: I have taken to disembarking from the boats halfway in the middle of rivers.
‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…’
And yet, if reading books is like breathing, purchasing them is like beatings of my heart. So, my heart must beat if I have to keep breathing, but I must breath too if my heart has to go on.
But the trouble is, there is no accounting the double beats in this chaos, as in getting blown over by a blurb or a review, and purchasing a book only to realise there is already a sulking copy somewhere in a shelf, collecting dust, real and temporal. Then there is no accounting the missed beats, as in rushing to a web portal to be stunned by the price tag, and the realisation that I have to scrub the proverbial floors and dishes at my workplace, day after day, to earn that kind of money. Did I mention I have this fetish for collecting the rare versions, untouched by the intelligentsia at large?
After a point, money doesn’t grow on credit cards either.
I’ll be remiss if I say I don’t own the paperbacks, it has been an obsession since childhood. In fact, my life is so steeped in paperbacks, all I have now is a back of paper. This god-awful load of parchments, purchased and unpurchased, has crumbled my spine to such fine dust which if rolled will resemble a leaf out of a tome of The Old Testament.
Now, if only my adolescent daughters hadn’t joined the feast. My adolescent daughters, brought up on a curated diet of Dickens and Austen with the odd Rowling thrown in, have now discovered ‘Young Adult Fiction.’ If I resist the footfalls of an author around this hearth, they get sullen and soggy like a kid pining for balloons. If I get their coveted volumes from the market, they’ll get flawed and foggy forever. So here I am, gawking at a volume of ‘The Hunger Games’, languishing on the dining table, and wondering if it has links with food, as in food for thought?