Indiscernible Stimulation of Books


Indiscernible Stimulation of Books

I have resorted to being an e-reader;
my new house doesn’t have a big heart,
where my collection of books is unwelcome.
Books unable to move from a state of abundance
into what seems like a design problem.
I feel creatively stifled in my new, low-ceiling home,
without the imagistic stimulation of my books.
E-books don’t possess the visual intrigue,
the magical existence of the physical ones.
A click can never imitate the feeling of turning pages.
Miss the bibliosmia—a hint of vanilla with an underlying rankness,
like visiting an old house whelmed with age, overuse, decay,
heaving with musty, anachronistic air.
Like an old wine and old friends, books remain invaluable—
apt for both the body and mind.
Bouquet of old books—
with worn edges; torn, faded covers—haunts me.
I have treated them like ordinary ephemera.

My old house embraced my books with open arms,
stacked almost everywhere, in every corner—
TV unit, cupboards, plastic containers, steel cabinets, trunk boxes.
My personal library, the eloquent archive of my past,
with the catalog of my interests, transformations, influences, ways of being,
my struggles, boosts, accomplishments, doubtless realizations.
Through the volumes, I developed connections and understanding—
perceived or real—with the characters and the authors who created them.

“I have more books than space.”
I expressed to the nonchalant junk collector
assessing my prized possessions
on his portable weighing scale.
Like a lackadaisical student who doesn’t concentrate on lessons taught
I stared at him randomly dumping the books in his big sack.
Under the grip of an indefinable languor,
I waited for the man to fish out a meager sum
in lieu of those priceless appurtenances of experience.
I saved the academic books, but passed along the literary ones,
unable to distribute them, as restrictions came on my way—
closed libraries, constraints of Covid, and paucity of time.
Convinced myself that I had to let go of any books 
that did not form integral parts of my life.

Once had a house overflowing with books,
the present one bereft of those prized possessions.
Now subjected to the role of a struggling bibliophile,
bibliomania still exists in me,
as does the upsurge of tsundoku in my head.
Mind entangled in the aspirations for beauty, balance, and space;
inebriate of unlearning as I am,
with the unobservable comfort of books,
I now spend my days in a futile attempt to narrate
the story that I intend to tell myself in my space,
while my doors to edification remain closed. 

Author: Sreelekah Chatterjeee

Photo: Maarten van den Huevel on Unsplash

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  1. Soooo many book lovers can relate to this poem. I enjoyed reading it, Sreelekha!