I’m moving again, and I'm thinking about my books.
Growing up, I’ve always looked for spaces where I could sit down and think. And to me, thinking means writing, and reading. In the different houses I’ve lived in, I’ve tended to find these spaces and sort-of claim them at specific times. At university, this was the volleyball courts at 6 am, where I could sip my coffee, a magazine open in my hand, look up at the hills, and think. At home, this was the terrace in the evenings, where, refreshed by gusts of southern breeze, I could be alone for a while.
But this time, in this flat, I’ve filled a room with books, made up a sitting corner with cushions, and got one of those writing pad-things.
I love it.
I’ve always known I’ve wanted this, a room full of books; From the time my old man took me to book fairs in Pondicherry, from when I pestered him to buy me books from those Scholastic brochures at school, from when he enrolled me in a local lending library, to when my reading matured and found its own way, I’ve always wanted this.
My books are ridiculously eclectic, there being no real theme in the selection, perhaps my love for travel writing and Naipaul the only stand-outs. There are more unread books than read ones, also because I acquire books constantly. And I think I like that too.
As Nassim Taleb writes in Black Swan, "Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books."
I think I believe in that more than is good for me.
There is less than a month for me with this particular space, to enjoy it a little bit more, to make sure I remember it a little bit better.
And I really hope to remember all this: the slowness of the ceiling fan, the droning of my refrigerator, and the Madras humidity that makes me sweat as I hunch over my laptop, trying hard to get a sentence right, hitting backspace over and over again.
Written in January 2020 in Madras.