Indecent Exploitation of a Genuine Book

I’m delighted to have picked the topic that has always irritated me from core of my thought process and something that always provoked me to explore, what prompts people to demonstrate the spine of a popular title or a subject that is slightly different in nature. You may call it a satire, a critical analysis or a canvas of my own hidden inability to buy all the lovely piece of writings available in a store.

Right from my childhood I always got fascinated with people having a deep interest in some or the other subject and it always motivated me that a person should bear reasonable knowledge to dictate his authority. The trend continued and I always found myself inclined towards a certain section of libraries or flapping through a certain shelf of a store and there I was, when I finally realised that my interests and likings are directed towards particular subjects and styles of writing. That was when I realised that I could be master of something but my curiosity towards jacks of all trades continued to walk through with me.

Once I entered into the practical life, the reading taste or more particularly the wish of buying anything printed always knocked at my pocket and many a times I was reminded of something with higher priority. Perhaps this was the time when I realized the very fact of the reality that knowledge is not only something that can be possessed but also something that can be at least visually demonstrated. There are always seekers of your demonstrated knowledge, if you have enough resources to showcase it decently or to be more precise, if you have the ability to present it in most expensive wooden shelves, preferably with a touch of antiquity to sketch a picture of ancestral knowledge.

At times, it makes me think that why the legal process of our country is arguably so slow with all those thick spines of law books that adds beauty to the chamber of a lawyer, why our medical system is so ineffective with those volumes of journals sprayed around our doctors and why many of our bureaucrats are incapable of taking decisions of common sense with all those hefty books peeping from the glass window just behind them. That was when I discovered the answers to all my questions when I came across some genuine knowledge seekers who struggles hard to borrow a book from somewhere to keep themselves updated on a subject.

One of my real-life Ustaad, Professor Masood Anwer Alavi once shared a secret with me in regards to books, he openly advocated that ‘lending a good book is a big mistake and a returning a good book after borrowing from someone is the biggest mistake’. This is the equation of a book lover where he does not mind encouraging his student to secure knowledge even if he has to be a bit unfair. Unfortunately this theory is drained down when the sanctity of a genuine book is confined to the glass doors of a show-case and the knowledge, information and the contents of the book suffocate within the shelf and someone who could afford is able to demonstrate his knowledge and taste to the viewer.

It is always interesting to find someone having a great collection of masterpieces ranging from the subjects poles apart, that certainly is a treat to eyes and for a novice it remains a matter of great admiration that how learned is the man, he is visiting and how difficult it would be to crack a deal with this person. To my utter grief, the books filled with every single word coming out from the heart of author are being used as a tool to crack a deal, as if the author’s thoughts were nothing but a hard-nut. I would be unfair if I generalize my statement to one and all but isn’t that a reality applied to most of those who fancy a drawing room library. To me, a collection in a bed-room or certainly in a reading-room is far more meaningful.

You call it a fashion, a status symbol or merely a show- piece but books have always been an eye-catcher and something that adds to the intelligence quotient of the owner, how nice it would be if all that stored in those books reflect on the ideas and intellect of the people carrying the print load.

Shaheer A. Mirza
Author is a travel professional, freelance writer, commentator and a political analyst

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 1 Issue 10, Dated 05 January 2015)

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