The prompt was “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Get up” My mother in law shook me awake. It was the day after my wedding. I sat up sleepily and looked around the tiny room that was now my home. Somehow my mother in law had made space for all seventeen of us (My brother in law and his wife, my sisters in law and their husbands and all their kids and of course hubby, ma in law and me!).
“Go and have a bath and get ready before anybody else gets up,” she said. “And wear something nice. You are a new bride!”
“Yes” I thought to myself with a shake of my head as I bathed in the minuscule bathroom that had just a curtain to screen it from the kitchen. “A new bride who spend her first night sleeping between her husband and mother in law”.
This was not how I had imagined my wedding night at all. I suppose I had all the Bollywood movie images of flower decked beds and total privacy, certainly not crammed in a room with fifteen other people. But I really didn’t mind as this was the family I had chosen for my own and in any case we were off for our honey moon in a couple of days once all the traditional visiting back and forth was over.
Soon everyone was awake, and the work got distributed. Some of my sisters in law saw to the lunch preparations while others looked after the kids. The men generally sat around reading the paper or watching TV or drinking beer. (After all it was a wedding)
When I asked to be given some work to do, ma in law said, “Just relax today. You have your whole life to work. This is one day, when you are allowed not to work in your sasural. Take full advantage of it.”
‘Not bad!” I thought and looked around for hubby. But he was in the midst of a very vociferous argument with his brothers. So I looked around for my first love, books. And my heart broke! There were no books to be found anywhere! Not a single book in that house!
Suddenly that room which till now had seemed so warm and full of love, turned stifling! Why, oh why, had I not thought of packing some books in the overnight case I had sent on earlier that week! Thank God we had to go to my parent’s house for dinner that night. It meant I could pick up some books and get them back with me. But what was I to do till then?
Hubby must have sensed something because he came over and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“There are no books! I need to go out now and buy some books!”
Before he could answer, my eldest sister in law replied, “Don’t be silly. You can’t go out of the house by yourself like that! You are a new bride!”
I looked at hubby in despair, but he just turned and walked away.
I sat back in my chair, feeling really miserable. The size of the house had not got me down, neither had the fact that I had to spend my wedding night amidst the entire clan. No I was able to deal with all of that. But this, this was something I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t remember a time without books. I read a book a day at times. I had laughed through them, cried through them, fallen in love with both the heroes and heroines and started writing because of them. Books for me were as essential as breathing! And here I was, stuck in a house with not a single book!
Suddenly a bundle was thrust into my lap. “My wedding gift to you!” whispered hubby and I saw a dozen books by all my favourite authors. He had managed to slip out to buy me my beloved books ! Not caring who was watching I flung my arms around him and hugged him as tightly as I could. I had never loved him more than at that moment!