There will be some little things we want to keep for life just to ‘nostalgiate’ childhood because of the strong impression they create on the very young mind. This small picture-story book in particular, is one of a few.
It was a Russian publication with English usage, a cartoon book for children with beautiful drawings that was so 'real'. This book had to be open almost each time when my mother fed me morsels of food forcibly with the spoon. Morsels of food or water dropped on its pages as I had to be looking at it in that process. I never remember the book to be in 'mint condition' but torn at many places at the edges or pages loose with repeated use. Later it was further damaged by careless handling by others and most of its pages gradually disappeared! After many years, just a page or two remained and there came a stage when they too were untraceable! Somehow my memory of this beautiful book has never faded.
My elder daughter was repeating what I did – being cranky when it came to feeding morsels of food and many methods had to be thought of, but showing books at that time usually was a wee bit easier and quicker for the mother, among other things which included me taking her for a small round on the bicycle for one morsel!
A book exhibition arrived in the early 90s. We had gone there with the little kid. My glance at the children's books on the shelf was suddenly stopped when my eye spotted this one, my favourite that had 'vanished'. It was now translated to Kannada from Russian and English. It testified how popular that book has been for decades, perhaps all over the world. I hope it is still published! The child in me jumped out and without a second thought, it was 'added to the cart', as we say nowadays in times of 'online shopping'! It was a fresh replacement to the one that had had given me hundreds of hours of pleasure. I had lost hopes of seeing it again. Her sister who 'arrived' later also loved to often play with this beautifully illustrated book which was such a joy to watch. It is a timeless book.
Another big book was being shown to me at that time during the meal-feeding sessions. It was heavy, old and hard bound (it was a rebound book sans the first 4-5 pages) and in reasonably good condition. A sample of a page showing food-stains is seen in this picture:
A few years ago when I was at another book exhibition, a beautiful book titled ‘Glimpses of India’ by J.H.Furneaux, caught my attention. It was a reprint of the 1895 edition. I was wondering about the title and author for many years as these pages were missing. I had lost hopes of getting the information anywhere. It is a book full of hundreds of old pictures and a wealth of information on many places of India, a truly monumental work and obviously, the pictures are pre-1895. It is actually a collector's item. I made a search also on the Internet when this became accessible to me and was glad that to find out that it is still available. Here is a link to the portrait picture of the author, Furneaux. (click)
Yet another book which fascinated me was also full of pictures. It is titled "World's best photographs". It is a book in which The Times of India is involved in publishing, before 1950 or so. There are some really fantastic pictures and the ones that I always liked to look often were these:
I never tire from turning their pages even now. Doing that, I backtrack in the time-machine, relive those times and hop back to reality!