Memories in books

Books often conjures beautiful memories and act as a treasure trove of some unforgettable ones. Not for nothing dose Gulzar Sahab says

किताबों में मिला करते थे सूखे फूल
और महके हुए रुक्के
किताबें मँगाने, गिरने उठाने के बहाने रिश्ते बनते थे

(In books we use to find dried flowers and fragrant letters, relations were made under the pretext of borrowing, dropping and picking books)

This story is about some such memories and what someone found in a book.


B L Thareja.
I decided to put only that one name on the first line because as the saying in Hindi goes - Naam hi kaafi hai!(the name is enough!)

For most engineers that name would open flood gates of memories because Mr. Thareja was and probably is the nemesis of many. With his endless volumes of Electrical Engineering he has single-handedly dissuaded more than thousand hearts from perusing engineering in BATU alone. I remember once Vijendra Mishra, a fellow engineering student, telling me - if this is Basic Electrical Engineering then I rather not become an Electrical Engineer. Just so that you know - Mishraji was referring to 1870 pages of concise 4 volume edition of Basic Electrical Engineering by Mr. Thareja. Vijendra left college after 3rd semester. He decided that harsh military life was more bearable. But like a classic, the book grows upon you.
Nah I am just kidding.

But you know you had to have a copy of the magnum opus if you wanted to be a decent engineer worth your salt. So in the first year and then years and years after that you found BATUites making a dash for the legendary 6 kg book as soon as the doors of the Book Bank opened. The Book Bank which was once housed on the frist floor of Gagangiri (Final Year Boys' Hostel) was epitome of disorganisation. It had books of 7 branches for around 1800 students on close to 400 topics - All crammed in a space of 50X20 feet. How we managed to find what we wanted was a bigger mystery than Bermuda Triangle. We squatted, jumped, lay prone and even climbed on each other's back to check if the book that we just noticed was B. L. Thareja. Girls tricked guileless deewanas and room parteners teamed up to lay their hand on that Bible. "Bhai tu yeah leke nikal main baaki saari books leke aata hu." (Brother you carry this to the hostel and i will bring the rest of the books)

The book itself was like the Acme Incorporation box, from the Roadrunner cartoon series. Being handled by hundreds of students it also contained useless, interesting and hilarious information that was lost in the past and found anew by many, who too contributed to it. We found dried flowers, drawings, receipts, back-bencher's chits, photographs and even love percentage calculations like SAMAR LOVES DHANASHREE - 35%. All Thanks to the previous owners for providing some distraction from the mundane world of science. We found these surprises appealing and looked for them in those book bank books. They made us laugh; but not always.

Somebody someday found this letter in one such book. 

It is strange, the phrase - I am sorry for yours loss. I never quite understood it. My plain English made be believe that 'Sorry' is always an expression for apology. Hence I am confounded by the problem as to why somebody else should be sorry for something they didn't do? I guess my amusement stems from the fact that since childhood I had been told that it is Him who takes people away from this world. So I always thought that it is He who should be sorry to the grieving. But over the past months I have realised that he doesn't apologise at all. I reckon that is why others say sorry on his behalf. That makes Him bad; really bad. But then I bow my head in reverence whenever I pass by a place of worship, and I believe it is merely out of habit than respect. The habit that started as a fear since my elders told me to bow down so that He would not be angry with me. They said if I did not bow then I would be showing disrespect and that would make me look bad. They told me that bad kids get punished. But then I fail to understand why He punished me despite me doing all that I was told to do. I guess that is why people say that they are "Sorry…….." since they too can't understand why I am being punished.

I think He is a bad manager for He simply doesn't understand that if you use fear as a tool, chances are the overuse of it will make the subject immune to any more intimidation. That is what has exactly happened with me. I am now fearless not because I have endured a lot and have gone tough. I am fearless because over the past 10 months I have been scared too much by Him. I reckon that is another reason why people say that they are "Sorry for my loss" since I have lost fear too.

But since fear was how I was programmed to respect Him, I have lost that respect too. Thus even though I bow my head out of habit I never enter those places of worship to meet Him. I guess doing that would be deceit on my part and unlike Him I can't deceive. He I think is full of deceit. Strange how I never saw His deception so apparently before. Another unusual thing is I now easily notice others who too are unhappy because of his chicanery and I feel strangely relieved that it is not just me who is the victim of His deceit. I think that is another reason why people say they are "Sorry for my loss" for I have lost my compassion for others.

I don't know what the real reason for why people use that expression and there could be plenty in my mind's eye. I want to hear that expression not as a mere symbolism for other's commiseration of my grief. But I want to hear it as a heartfelt apology from Him. And I want Him to make amends. But then the only amend would be to bring back my mother. And that I have been told, by my elders, is impossible. I know they have been wrong before about God and His ways and I wish they are wrong on this count too. I wish for her to comeback, if not for eternity then at least to live with dignity those 7 months that she was miserably dead in that breathing body of her. I am sad that she is no more with me and I am willing to accept my loss. But I simply can't accept how He made her suffer to death and I too died in pieces with her every day. He probably would not understand how I, who loved her, wanted to stop those painful breaths each night but wished for a miracle with each rising day. Because if He would, then He would not have played those cruel games with me. Then with each passing day my conviction of her recovery weakened until a day came when I was relieved to see her go. And that day I lost my soul and my world…… and that was the day He lost me too.
And I really feel sorry for His loss!!!

The then Abida. 

That someone then penned the following lines on the back cover of that same book and those lines forever remained etched. I have been told that some still discover them.

Save my soul, my once happy soul,
from Icicles' of sorrow and gaping hole.
I long for embers of merry Jan,
for all I touch is cold around.
Glad that others too have found
 - your deceit.
So plead I you to save your soul, your once happy soul.


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