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What I am going to say – or what’s already up there in the title – may get me into trouble with my book-loving friends. Ostracized by them l will probably have to spend the rest of my life in the metaphorical dog-house. But there is no other option. I have to say what I gotta say. Please don’t gift me books, people!

Do you hear that hushed silence from a shocked audience… as if I have announced I am dying of some terminal illness? On another note, what a fool I am to ask that question. Some unkind friends at this point might well mutter under their breath that they knew already that I was one, so what’s the point stating the obvious. Ignore them. The reason I called myself a fool just now, …because, duh, how can anyone hear the ‘hushed silence’? You can only NOT hear it.

Okay. I am done with stupid jokes (Will I ever though? Moot question!). I admit it is nervousness that’s making me blabber so. Have I lost all friends, I wonder, they being mostly all the paper-book-reading-and-passionately-loving-the-experience kind. Will they ever speak to me again? Will I have to grow old cold-shouldered by them? But whatever, I stand firm by what I declared above. Do not gift me books, good people.

The reason? I am getting old – or at least my eyes are – and reading the print books is getting difficult. Enter Kindle left-center. Love at first sight happens. You are my love, forever and ever and ever, I declare fervently, passionately. To the paper books I say, ‘Hello there! Time for us to part ways I’ll always remember the good times we had. Goodbye!’

This is how things have been for quite some time now. I have announced it here. On Facebook too. What’s more, face-to-face too. But it doesn’t seem to have seeped into the minds of paper-book-loving friends. You know how it is when a non-ice-cream loving friend’s no-want-ice-cream pleas get dismissed by the ice-cream-crazy friends and cries of of-course-she’s-bluffing rend the air? Something on those lines, they think: ‘Of course she doesn’t mean what she says. I love the feel and smell of paper, so she has to too!’ Sorry to disappoint, it is reading that I love, not the paper or the smell of it.

Lovely beings as they are, they think, ‘What shall we gift Shail? She loves to read. Of course, A BOOK!’ Off they go to the book shop after taking the trouble of going through my to-read list (So thoughtful of them!) and a gift-wrapped-book lands at my home. Instead of jumping for joy, I go ‘Oh no! Not again!’ I put it up there on the shelf with the other books and try to forget all about it.

Don’t get me wrong people. I love books. I do like how they look on the shelf. But space is at premium and dust is aplenty. I am done accumulating things, even books and wasting time dusting them. Besides, have you realized how easy it is to carry around, and read from, HUGE books when it is on Kindle, without any of the having to sit up straight to read or oh-no-this book-is-too-heavy-my back-is-breaking stuff to contend with? And like I said, the most important reason of them all, eyes and its failing ability to adjust to poor light, also strange as it may seem, extreme aversion to too bright light.

So yeah, no books, please. Instead whenever you feel the urge to buy me a book, take deep breaths, the feeling will pass. Then go out and buy yourself one. See, didn’t that bring a happy-happy smile to your grumpy I-will-murder-you-for-saying-no-to-paper-books face? I knew it would! Phew. *surreptitiously wipes sweat off her brow*

© Shail Mohan 2020