Hey guys, welcome to my first blog post of 2017, sorry 2018 (still haven’t quite gotten used to saying that ) . I hope all of you have a fantabulous & exciting new year!!!! But for me this new year hasn’t exactly gotten of to a smooth start. You see, it all began on Monday morning. I was busy demolishing the formidable stack of that day’s newspapers. Suddenly, when I was in the middle of a gripping article, a flyer caught my eye. I usually ignore them, presuming them to be filled with details that only my Grandma or mom would find interesting, but not this one, no, for this one contained words that struck an arrow through my heart, for it proclaimed the closure of Eloor Lending Library, one of Chennai’s most reputed libraries!!!
Eloor Lending library- Exterior
This news was doubly heart wrenching for me as this was the library that had sparked & nurtured my passion for books. When I was young, the only source of stories was my grandfather, who commanded such a vast storehouse of knowledge and tales which he used endlessly to regale me. But as I grew older, this was not enough to satisfy my voraciousness & I soon began to search for more avenues.
Up till that point, I was restricted to my native language of Tamil & couldn’t converse in other languages. My report cards soon began to back this up!! My dad soon took it upon himself to reverse this horrifying trend & initiated me into the world of English. However he didn’t exactly get what he’d bargained for. As I remember him recounting to my mother ” What monster have I unleashed?! “. I had completed his entire stack of books & was clamouring for more ( It didn’t exactly help that I was 7 yrs old, the very height of endless energy & naughtiness) . Soon ( after the destruction of precisely, 3 bathrooms, 500 pillows, 347 mattresses & the breakage of countless pieces of furniture) , my parents realised that the only way to curb my excessive energy was by providing me with an endless supply of books. This is where Eloor came in.
My dad had been one of the library’s first patrons & had assisted this library in expanding its store of computer related books( This was back in the 90’s , when he was still a student). So it was natural that he was to bring me here. And the rest as they say is history. I soon began to borrow over 20 books during my visits & became fast friends with the librarians. We endlessly talked about everything underneath the sun, from politics to why Jughead is awesome. This is where my unique style of reading( The 3 pillars) was forged. My favourites during that time was Asterix & Obleix, Tintin, Calvin & Hobbes, The Spy dog series, the Archie’s comics & several standalones of which the library contained rows of.
My favourite person in the library was ‘Oil’ Uncle( called so because his previous job was selling tins of ghee & desi oil), the security guard. A jovial man who was always delighted to see us. As the years progressed, I soon began to venture into more & more different genres & I was soon regarded by both my seniors & juniors as a Juggernaut in this language. When I reached 7th standard, I had exhausted even this library’s extensive resources & soon began to turn my gaze towards the e-book craze. But that didn’t stop me from still continuing to borrow books from Eloor. I even assisted the librarians in updating their books, so as to improve patronage.
But it seems that my efforts were in vain. The librarian recounted that though this had helped bump up patronage, the business had been running on a loss for the last 2 years & the rent they paid was also quite expensive.
As soon as I read the flyer, I had rushed to father & urged him to drive me to the library at once. Once we reached, I rushed in to confirm the news. The head librarian replied in affirmative & said that they were also selling off all their books. I immediately ran in & collected all of my favourites, books that were not just pieces of paper but allies, my brothers in arms. I was however distraught to find that some of them had already been sold off. We bid farewell to all the librarians & exchanged numbers, so as to stay in touch. Even ‘Oil’ Uncle, who possessed an ever smiling face, also looked lost & saddened.
Patrons scrambling to buy their favourite novels
The next day, newspapers throughout Chennai began publishing articles, biding farewell to this great icon. I have cut these articles out of the paper & they, along with the 20 odd books I purchased, will serve as a reminder of the carefree days I spent there. However, this is by no means the end of the road for Eloor, no. It’s spirit lives on in the hearts of every person who loves & cherishes books, who feel that they open doors into a new world.
The author along with a few of his purchased books
I hope I have been able to give you guys a peek into my love for books & the sense of brotherhood I feel for this library. Until next time, farewell my friends!!!