Of feral desires and hungry eyes…

This is a story of feral desires and hungry eyes…

Khanabadosh was started on the basic premise of sharing, where I soaked in the local culture, sights , sounds and smells of every place I stayed in and in return opened the doors of my home and heart to the local community. One of those doors led to my library, the soul of Khanabdosh.

When I was in the process of moving in here, more often than not, I’d see little kids from the farm next door peer in, 18 inquisitive eyes, in an obvious thrill of wonder at seeing things they had never seen before. It’ll take some effort to forget how they looked and asked questions, talked amongst themselves, discussed. One really amusing conversation that I was privy to, was about the Big Buddha statue. I had no keener pleasure than in observing the rapid deductions of the perspicacious lot. After lengthy debates on why anyone would get such a big statue – after all, they opined, a small one would serve the same purpose If the prayer was honest – they gave up trying to figure WHY I had brought along such a huge statue, and moved on to the inference that I had such a big home JUST to accommodate the huge statue! As amusing as this was, there was also a lesson in it for me – don’t drive yourself up the wall trying to analyse, think, overthink things. Let go. Get to the next!

The other thing that caught their attention, were the numerous cartons of books being offloaded. As we opened and segregated and catalogued they watched from the gaps in the bamboo fence across a garden that was as yet just a tangle of wild rose bushes, happily untamed grass and shy buttercups. I would, on purpose, unpack the cartons near the fence, all the while pretending not to see them. There were gasps of amazement at the large Encyclopaedias, squeals of excitement when the comics came and a scurry to fold hands in obeisance when we opened books that had pictures of deities as their covers! I knew I had their attention.

As I settled in, I decided to make the kids of Purani Koti my first guests. Shyly, one Sunday afternoon, they trooped in – a sinuous crawl – hiding behind each other and crowding in corners, forming a kind of impenetrable barrier. The date had been organised in the Library, where they slowly began to talk…tales of the recent storm, of their school and the long 4km walk back everyday, of what they wanted to be when they grew up, of each other, of how they mistook my Golden Retrievers for lions, of how they went to pick mushrooms in the forest. Tables turned and it was my turn to gasp and squeal at amazement at their apologues!

The impenetrable barrier broke, they allowed me in and asked if they could borrow books to read! Just what I wanted! They chose a book each, rushed a ’Thank You’ my way and scooted to compare treasures, a sudden unexpected game, with guesses rolled in giggles, and a flourish of arms from behind their backs, a final showdown of what each had picked. And thus began a love affair – mine with them, theirs with the books It is now a regular feature. Children from the neighbouring villages borrow books to read or for reference and upon returning, insist on telling me what the book was about – the amount of exaggeration, the added characters, the twist and turns that didn’t exist in the actual stories, wildly flaying hands and bright innocent eyes make it an event I have begun to look forward to.

While most books here have come from my own collection, once in a way, a magician comes my way, and helps to reinforce and increase the lot. Dilip Ramachandran is one such generous soul who sent us two cartons full of books that the kids promptly came to check out! They loved the ghost stories, the book on motorcycles and the fantastic comics. Thank you so much Dilip for sharing and letting us have your books. Rest assured, that they will be shared here too

As the kids lay sprawled in the library, checking out their new treasure, their dandelion hearts swaying as we took each one out, another summer day looked lazily through high windows as it waned, and sent a lone long shaft of light to wash over them, like a last warm hug..

Come and read with or to the kids at Khanabadosh and watch your own heart sway at the collection we have.

 

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