Open Books

Why India needs a library movement

01 June 2017

TUSHAR PUSHES AGAINST WEIGHT. He might be eight or nine years old, wiry, muscled. He has a large head with lashes of disproportionate length, even for his large eyes. He insists he will read “this book,” and only “this book.” On this day, “this book” is the thickest of the volumes in the Harry Potter series available in the library in Hindi translation. He is directed to volume one in the series, a book of medium thickness, but apparently not thick enough. Tushar shakes his head. He hefts the book of his choice. “This book.” On another day it is a slimmer book, but extra large. Hardcover. The title: France. Open the book and let’s see. It is about winemaking and other things French. “Yes,” he says, “this book.”

When he disappears from the library for a while, his absence is noted, remarked upon, and in time there is anxiety. “Where is Tushar? He was such a good reader. You know, he persisted his way to page 35 in that Harry Potter book.”

He is seen outside in the lane by various volunteers who run the library. He is seen pushing a cart full of plastic canisters. The canisters are full of water. He pushes through his shoulders; he pushes with the weight of his body. Other bodies join his and the cart moves.

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    Mridula Koshy is an author, and a community organiser at The Community Library Project (

    Keywords: literature books education Libraries