Books Abandoned

Ravi Kunjwal

Ravi Kunjwal believes Physics is Art. And Conference talks are performances. And poems are meant to be danced with. Ravi loves to talk. While not talking, he writes beautiful memoirs, travelogues and poetry in his blog.

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The pleasure of finding old books in a bookstore—abandoned books, books passed on, books sold or lost, and books that have no business being where they are—is primarily one of finding something you didn’t think you need. You probably still don’t “need” it when you buy it, but you buy it anyway. You may go back and read it or you may simply let it join the pile of books you thought you would read but you never did. Either way, it’s not what you do with the book after you acquire it that interests me, but rather how you come to acquire a book in the first place. Or perhaps, how I came to acquire some:

Blossoms, Bangalore

‘Varnikaa, IV B’

The childish scribble on the first page of a tattered old copy of ‘Malgudi Schooldays’ captured my attention. I flipped through the pages, only to find more doodles, underlined words and their meanings, and something about school projects on the Himalayas that Varnikaa presumably worked on in her fourth grade. The whimsical pencil sketches on random pages in the book and notes scribbled by Varnikaa were enough to persuade me to buy this old copy of R.K. Narayan’s classic, illustrated by his cartoonist brother and creator of the ‘common man’, R.K. Laxman. Of course, that Varnikaa was a co-illustrator clinched the deal.

Though I have had the book for a while now, I still haven’t read it, despite glancing through the odd scribbles of Varnikaa every now and then, and wondering where all those books and notebooks where I scribbled and doodled in school went, whether someone somewhere might also delight in finding them as much as I did when I picked up the copy Varnikaa once read and doodled in.

‘To my darling Papa…’

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