We have only hearsay information about the Anna library, but by paying fifty paise and then one rupee per book per day, the opportunity to read a large number of books and magazines has become available. In those days, one could not afford to buy a book. The joy of a personal book was palpable.
Resources were scarce and the love of reading was fulfilled by renting books and magazines from the library. Other magazines including New Horizon, Jasoosi Digest, Suspense Digest, and Sub-Ring were published regularly every month. The Imran series was especially awaited. When the time changed, the distance between spy literature and pure literature was fixed in one go. Travelogues started and soon novels gained attention. I have read many famous Urdu novels and translations on rent. Dozens of novels including Aag Ka Darya, Search for Paradise, Raja Gadh, Amaro Jaan Ada, Maa, and Anna Karenina are included.
Sometimes, despite reading the book, the return was delayed due to non-payment of rent. It didn’t take long for the library owner to figure out why the book hadn’t been returned. He used to send a message home “Don’t pay the rent but return the book.” Usually, the book was read in two or three days. Failure to return a book for a week meant an extraordinary increase in rent. In such a situation, unseen help was awaited. On the arrival of a guest, two or four rupees were received which was no less than a blessing. A large part of twenty rupees was also spent on the rent of books on Eid. Later, a large part of this Eid started to be spent watching movies.
A book passed through twenty hands. Readers’ comments were also recorded on the books. Reasons for liking and disliking were enumerated. Readers also encouraged each other to read different books. Many books kept him in his grip for a long time and it was not easy to get out of his spell. There was a general demand for cheap books written under fake names. She was popular among the youth section. Such books soon died a natural death.
Serious readers of literature knew which writers to study. Reading magazines was prohibited, the general belief is that it affected education. Magazines were read secretly and there was a fear of reprimand and punishment if caught. The punishment was unforgivable for reading a magazine or a novel in the textbook. Our literary education is indebted to these books. When he reached college from school, he got an opportunity to use the college library. The fee is used to include the library fund.
There was no hijab to prevent me from reading books by borrowing from friends. This right was considered friendship. Not returning the book was also not a handicap. In times of need, personal magazines and books were sold to second-hand booksellers at exorbitant prices. The gentleman used to pay per kilo by weight instead of price per book.
Every street neighborhood had the facility of using these libraries. Apart from sports, it was our main source of entertainment. We ourselves did not realize that we are regular readers of literature. We used to travel to unseen worlds through books. used to populate the world of ideas and it was good to live in it. People of our generation have learned the mysteries of life through these libraries. If we were not readers of literature, we would be deprived of the true colors and beauty of life. After coming to practical life. I could afford to buy books, but still, I could not afford to buy more than two or three books in a month.
Time passed quickly, the purchasing power increased exponentially along with the trend of book publishing. Fine paper and modern printing enhanced the beauty of books. Now PDFs of many books are easily available. There are thousands of books available to read on dozens of websites including Rekhta, but I still smell the aroma of books published on cheap paper.
Most writers, including me, have hundreds of books in their personal libraries. There is no time to read many books. Several books have been partially read. I wonder how fast the journey from the time of not being able to buy books to the general availability of books has been decided. How easy PDF books have made it but we are still not used to it. People familiar with the touch of a book will take a while to get used to PDF books.
I look at the book on the table in front of me with a pleasant surprise. I came across this while looking for something in the gallery. This book has transported me into the mists of the past. It is a dead end. After reading a bit I remember that this was the last book I borrowed from a library. I stopped going to this lab due to non-return and constant rent increases. I want to pay the rent of this book for forty years but now there is no one to collect the rent.
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