» » BOOKS: LENT AND BORROWED

“I mean your borrowers of books - those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.''- CHARLES LAMB

Have you felt that books love to belong to a single person, or else, stand alone all by themselves cuddling each other but waiting desperately to be caressed everyday by the person who they belong to? They want to be neither borrowed nor lent. Don't believe me? Just look at it dearly while you are lending it to someone.

The moment you buy one, it merely gets frisky, filled with life and energy, still uncertain about its home and family, nonetheless, cheerful with the hope that finally it will land to someone very loving and caring who is sensitive enough to handle its delicacy with compassionate look and tender soft hands, never giving upon it. It wants a place to overlook you everyday such that you too can see it and exchange pleasantries. Once it finds you as home and lover, it becomes completely yours, absolutely. Its loyalty abounds.

 It syncs with your love, with your touch, with your voice, moreover, whole you. And, you can not imagine what an agony it goes through when you give it to someone, be that your best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or whoever. It knows no other than you. It loves no other than you. It is a fanatic lover. It wants to be possessed only by you. It wants to be touched only by you. It wants to be read only by you.
I wish I had felt this years ago, whereupon, I would not have lent any of my books and lost sadly more than twenty of them which  I am missing badly now. What stupefies me is why are books not returned? I too have read a few borrowed books but have fallen in love with none of them. Of course, I enjoyed reading them but never developed a sense of attachment or any feeling to add them to my shelf, instead, I was always in a hurry to finish them soon, so I could return them to their owner and I did.

 The first book I had read borrowing was the PALPASA CAFE which one of my tutors gave; the immediate second by him was the PAGAL BASTI. I could not even think of keeping them to myself. I returned. That was the time I was just getting into reading but I had already started buying books from the footpath around Ratnapark. The first book I bought, whose name I don't remember though, was by Dr. Yogi Vikashananda. I was literally falling for the books. Even a mere sight of books gave me a dopamine rush. I felt elated. When you start loving something, you want to possess it.

Everyday you want to see it, touch it, appreciate it. By this, I don't mean you want to have a mountain in your house because you love the mountain, but yes, you desire a kind of and so you try to get a painting of the mountain hung on your wall or at least, poster. After returning those two books, he brought me a book by Chetan Bhagat. Perhaps, it was the ONE NIGHT AT THE CALL CENTER but I don't exactly remember as immediately after finishing the book lent by him I bought a few more books by Chetan Bhagat.

Unluckily, I lost his book. I bought a new copy to give him back but smilingly, he told me to keep that with myself and I did. In fact, I was happier. One after another, I finished 3-4 books by Chetan Bhagat for his books are easy and spicy. Later, in grade 11, I lent all of those books by Chetan Bhagat to one of my friends. I didn't use to be much possessive back then regarding the books. I was just happy that I loved reading. Those books never came back to me. Upon asking to return them back, he told me that he had returned them which never actually happened. He was not just my casual friend, we were quite close but he always insisted that he had returned. Nothing could I do.
But why generally books are not returned? Only a single reason, I think, can not bring all the people who don't want to return books, together to a category. But I can precisely put them in two broad categories: Reader and Non-reader. Yup, there are some skinflint occasional readers who love reading, just to pass time though, and think spending money on books is not worth it. They are those who don't value books, don't know any bookstore in the city but are over-friendly with everyone in the class, sometimes more than that and know very well who others read the books. They can manage to borrow a book once a while. And, who cares afterwards, whether to return or not? If asked to return, come up with an excuse every time without any shame. Such people either don't return intentionally or have lost the book. Now, who is going to sue just for a book. But it is not just A BOOK, it is a piece of heart of the lender who has loved and read it.

Such are not avid or voracious readers but read sometimes as fashion to show off,that too without spending a penny.
I have not seen one, but such a passionate and avid reader can be found who has one's own bookshelf but not own books except a few. It is not that the person does not have enough money to buy as can be seen spending a lot for other lavish items, yet thinks spending on books is a waste of money. Some books are returned and some not. If any s/he finds interesting, that book won't find its way home. Such a person very well knows the importance of books and reading, simultaneously, is clever enough to read his/her likes without buying one.
And, it is non-reader category I am victim of. Back in school days when I had just started reading and collecting books, I lost my handful of books to my classmates none of which were readers. Sometime I used to bring a book to my school and read in free time which would make a few curious about what I was reading and if it was really fun doing that. Some would ask to lend them books and I did.

 I happily lent them my books on the condition to return them back to me soon which rarely happened costing me books like THE GURU OF LOVE, THE ALCHEMIST, CLEOPETRA( Nepali translation ), NAPOLEON BONAPARTE( biography in Nepali ).
I call such persons non-reader because they happen to have heard of books by CHETAN BHAGAT, PAULO COELHO, SUBIN BHATTARAI and other popular authors which make them curious enough to give a try to them and they do it not by buying but by borrowing. They don't want to take risk spending on books and that too, in the first go. In fact, it is not bad at all. It is your first time and you don't know, then why spend. It is safe to borrow. In fact, one gets into reading this way. But most of the time, it is not the case. The book is neither completely read nor returned. After a few days of wear and tear, the book gets stuck into the darkest corner of a room painfully striving for its life. The book becomes more hopeless and helpless more than the lender, the two never to meet again.
For them,  who don't return the books, the books are merely a one-time use. They think you don't care it either as you have already read. Is it toilet roll? For them, the books don't carry any aesthetic value, books are ever dead with intangible words on it. The have nasty preconceived assumptions about books. Generally, excuse one comes up with is s/he forgets while coming out of the house. But why one forgets? It is because s/he doesn't value feelings and emotions one has with his/her books. For them, it is a mere thing to be used once and game over!
Book borrowing is different from borrowing other things in contrast for we associate different values to different things according to the influence they have in our day to day chores and survival, for instance, if we borrow a book worth Rs. 500 and money of amount Rs. 100 from someone, we feel obliged to return the money soon as possible but not the book as the money is a day to day must need and also out of the fear that if it not returned in time, next time in need we can't be trusted; of course, we don't need a book to survive apparently.
This is one of the dishonesties we have glorified in our culture to some extent. We feel it is okay not to return the book. Not just this, even its stealing is quite glorified. We may pick a book in a stationary stealthily without a shame or regret at all if the situation is suitable enough to do that and later on, proudly talk about the act to our friends. Friend is friend but what about a library etiquette? We rarely return the books on time because either fine is too low or keeping books longer appears better despite having to pay the fine. It is not just enough for someone, they go a step further to tear out the important pages, which I call downright egregious unethical act. Some even feel the pages with dirty remarks and doodles.
Just a couple of years back, I lent and lost THE GRAND DESIGN and two OSHO books to my college classmate and school classmate respectively. When in first year, a friend and my senior asked to lend ANGELS AND DEMONS. I never asked and he never gave. Now, he is in the USA. A year back, I lent A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS to a happen-to-be sister which she says she has lost that I don't know for sure.
Exceptional people also exist. I have lent THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS to one of my friends. Quite a few number of times, she reminded me to meet so she can return my book back. I believe the book is safe and pristine with her because a book on body language by Alan Peas was read and returned as per my expectation. Two other books, ALEPH and THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY are with one of my close friends which I believe are safe with him and will be returned when asked to.
Once I had made  my mind to lend books only to girls as I used to believe they are more sensitive to keeping things clean and well maintained. I used to believe that everything they use, they do it with love and delicacy and myself maintained the faith that my books would be returned in the same clean and pristine condition I would give them which was shattered when the CRIME AND PUNISHMENT was returned to me. It was crinkled, stained and scraped.
If the books are a part of your development, a part of your brain, part of your growth, very near to your heart, be fanatically possessive. Your books need only your love and care and they are as alive as anything else, you just need to give a loving hand, loving look and a passionate read. They don't want to be stained, defiled and crinkled by different persons. Once, you lend to someone, you won't be there to see how your book is handled, how it is treated and where it is kept.
And, you should not lend your book because people seem to have neural adaptation to not returning books, instead lead them to a second-hand bookshop. If there is someone you can not deny, better buy than lend.
By the bye, I too have borrowed book, the ARTEMIS FOWL. Years ago, he flew to Australia before I could finish and return. Another friend of mine had lent me THE METAMORPHOSIS and the GHANCHAKKAR which I returned in two weeks time without noticeable mess done to them I guess.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway 




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