Megha P. S, I M.A. English
On a sunny afternoon, when people are usually lazing in their rooms, Denita, Rin and I were anxiously waiting for the suburb train to arrive at Tambaram station from where we all were to go to the Chennai Book Fair organized by BAPASI (Booksellers' and Publishers' Association of South India). The excitement had kicked in from the very beginning and throughout the train journey, we were the loudest in the entire compartment, discussing various issues as well as giggling occasionally. Finally, on reaching Nungambakkam, we made our way to St. George Anglo-Indian High Secondary School, which was the venue for the book fair. As we entered the gates of the school, we saw old buildings and a sprawling ground where the stalls were set.
The next minute, as we entered the shamiana, the entire place was crowded with people who entered into different stalls like swarms of bees looking out for their favorite author and books. Walking ahead, we stopped by at Om Logaheshwari Book house, which housed a variety of books for children, be it coloring books or graphic or pop-up books. It took us down the memory lane and just like children, we picked up magic books and other graphic books to glance through it. While reliving my childhood, I found a girl who held on to a pile of books while looking at her mother for approval to buy all those books. The children, with their wondrous and gleaming eyes were happy to be lost in the world of books.
Not only were there book stalls, but also many food and bag stalls were set up at the fair. We saw the young and the old slurping their ice creams on a hot afternoon and some tea lovers sipping their evening chai over some intellectual conversations. As we walked on, we ran into some of our seniors with whom we continued on the trail to some second hand book stores. In Om Sakthi book store, the second hand books were priced at Rs. 50 per book. The bibliophiles rushed into the second hand book shops in order to find the books that have been in their bucket list for long. As I picked up Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, the familiar comforting smell and yellowed pages of the book greeted me. Inside the book, the memorable lines were marked with pink and neon highlighters which had its own story to tell.
There was a potpourri of books, ranging from coloring books for children to religious ones for the spiritual people, books for competitive exams to self-help books, books on philosophy and the like. After having purchased books from my bucket list, we made our way out, through the ground, towards the gate.
On our way back home, as the breeze blew on our faces, the loud chatter of ladies, laughter of children and the vendors selling candies and other goodies, was heard in the background. We book lovers shared our experiences of the book fair with each other and had seen a familiar and satisfied smile on one another’s face knowing that we had our memories to carry within us.