A recent story I did and loved....
A staircase leads to a comfortable room which is bursting with books and is embalmed in a quiet that is hard to find nowadays, BS Prakash’s library is a book lover’s paradise, intimate but not intimidating. Rows and rows of books spread across genres of every imaginable kind greet the discerning visitor, from history, literature, poetry and classics neatly stacked according to author and genre. The elegance of the library is compounded by the old world charm of the house replete with wooden rocking chairs and spacious seating areas.
Prakash’s tryst with reading started at the age of 3, when his mother gifted him a copy of the book, “The tale of two bad mice”. As he shows us the book which was presented to him in 1950 he says, “I have always been reading. I still have the fairy tale books gifted by my parents. It’s been a deep and abiding interest all through my life. Since I wasn’t an athletic type and we had no radio, reading was the natural alternative during childhood. My father and grandfather were avid readers and in fact, a quarter of my collection (about 2000 books) was inherited from them.” Today his collection has grown to roughly around 8000 books, and he admits that cataloguing them is a huge challenge.
The book collector remembers his childhood days where he bought books at many stores in Abids (a street in Hyderabad) with great fondness. He recollects the many times he bought classics for a steal, “I used to buy a lot of books at AA Hussain in Abids apart from that there was a second hand book store called Ilyas down the same road which had a great collection. The second hand market at Abids was a great haunt to buy different kinds of books, I once got 16 volumes of Charles Dickens for 32 rupees!”
Also a part of a club of theater and literature enthusiasts, Prakash says that reading opens up different worlds to the reader which is an experience in itself. Showing us the first edition of Charles Dickens’s “Pickwick Papers” which was published in 1837, a book which has withstood the vagaries of time for almost three centuries, he also narrates many anecdotes which he says only enriched his love of reading, “I once bought a book of C Rajagopalachari’s writings for the Swatantra Party, in which two pages were stuck. Later I found that he had gifted the book to his biographer, Monica Felton. In my father’s books I have come across his thoughts on the ideas expressed by the author. All of it makes the process of reading very intriguing.”
Lending his books to very few people as Prakash believes that most books which are lent never come back; he also strikes a chord with many people when he says that he prefers reading novels in paperbacks to reading on an Ipad or a kindle. Currently planning to write a book on the social history of a middle class South Indian Brahmin family he brings the interview to a close by saying, “Books for me brings out solitude from loneliness.”