In quest of reading17 January 2020
In my secondary school days in the early 1960s, apart from reading textbooks, I developed a deep fascination for reading books including novels, short stories, fictions, poems, thrillers and so on. This reading craze was so intense and overwhelming that I had to collect books from any available source. After admission in the Sarail Ananda High School in Class-VI, while searching for books, I could gather that since no Librarian is available in the school, books could not be issued to the students. In order to meet my thirst, I used to collect books from friends, acquaintances etc. for few years. At times, these sources were exhausted and I was seriously looking for books from other means.
At this point one day, one of my classmates informed me that one abandoned library in the market area is available wherefrom I can get books for my reading. But at the same time he also warned me that it would be very difficult to collect books from this big almirah containing books are available in a shop where general public, specially the students and young people have no entry. It was a liquor shop where only Bauls, Fakirs and different kind of persons buy liquor for their addiction. This shop was totally forbidden for the young persons, more particularly for the students to have an entry into it. Necessity and desire was so intense and tremendous that I had to find out ways and means to get books from this treasure, My classmate as I referred to earlier informed me that the salesman of this liquor shop Makhan Chakrabarty is a nice gentleman and if I could approach him properly I may have a way out to get books from this treasure almirah. At this age when I go back to my childhood, I wonder how I ventured and dared to get into the shop and be acquainted with Makhan Chakrabarty only to get books from his possession. He had keys with him and when, I in a courteous manner requested him to allow me to receive books from the almirah, I could presume he had pity on me and gave me assurance that books may be issued to me. I could guess that he himself was surprised to notice that a young boy of 12/13 years is approaching him for books, where only addicted people are coming to him for the whole day for buying liquor and opium. It being an exceptional event, Makhan Chokrabarty showed his affection to me and allowed the privilege of lending books. I started receiving books from this library for more than a year until the stock of my choice almosl exhausted. In the later stage, I could earn the confidence of Makhan Chokrabarty and he used to give me the keys of the almirah and I would receive books and return those at my own risk and responsibility without his personal knowledge and assistance.
While I was in Class-IX, a Librarian named Mr Romoj Ali was appointed in the School who happened to be a very good person and a successful teacher as well. He being my relative had loved and affection for me. Knowing my deep attraction for books, he was rather happy and issued me as many books as I need. Our school library was a big one and there were huge number of books on various subjects. During the whole of my school days, I had cordial relation with the librarian and could have access to maximum books I could read. In the final days of my school, this generous Librarian told me that I have been issued the highest number of books during his tenure as librarian. At this sixty plus age of mine, I still have that same quest and attraction for books. Whenever I get time, I collect books of different subjects and read those for learning and pleasure. I firmly believe that this reading habit may continue till the last days of my life. I cannot definitely tell what benefit I have derived from reading books. But one thing I can tell to my readers that during these long years, the pleasure I have received is something divine and helped me immensely to enrich and develop my inner faculties which a human soul always cherish. -Values as I see them