I woke up with a sense of dread. Mission Clean was scheduled for today. Specifically, Mission Clean the Library. More specifically, Mission Clean the Children’s Library. At this point, I was ready to do the backbreaking or mindless job of filling water bottles, scrubbing dishes or even toilets any day, in spite of my limited cleaning skills. Anything but culling of the library.

My children will be twelve in a few days, I admonished myself. It makes no sense holding on to their first thesaurus, one of the numerous 365 puzzles books or Grammar books that did not get filled up. I must remove that set of early reader tales, my favourite Tulika books, Chacha Chowdhry comics, Nandan and Champak that my children never did like and a set of Hindi books that I bought to make them practice Hindi, much as it hurt my heart to remove them.

As I sighed and mentally braced myself, I started to sift through the piles of books that had not been touched for a long while.

I picked up a Scribble and Wipe board book that a dear cousin had gifted the children. I had already given away the pair to my nephew and this would go to a friend’s child. She wouldn’t mind I am sure. I stroked the book lovingly and let it go.

As I made two neat piles of books that would be relevant for my nephews of ages 7 and 9 and held on to them for so long. My children had loved many of them and had disliked a few but I was glad they would go to good homes where I hoped they would be loved some more. The complete set of Geronimo Stilton books and the laugh aloud Captain Underpants books would delight them for sure. I gave myself a few minutes of pep talk to convince myself that since the children had moved on to more age-appropriate books and that they have neither read them for the past three years and nor were they likely to read them again, I could pass them on.

Goodness, is that a board book I see peeking from that corner? The one, from which the son would read at night, with the aid of a sliver of light that passed through the curtains?

With a nostalgic smile, I recalled the words fiss, butterpie spoken in the dark, which were music to the spouse’s and my ears; and tucked the book back into its corner. Motherly love is hard to beat.

I chanced upon several unread books in mint condition. Those, which my children had judged by the cover and decided not to read. They had outgrown them in less than two years even though I had tried several times to entice them to read. A great believer of recycling new stuff, I arranged them in the to-be-gifted drawer.

The cook noticed the books I had set aside to be given away to the orphanage and she mentioned that her children loved to read. Delighted, I gave her the pile, glad that the books would brighten a few more readers’ lives.

The general knowledge books, dictionaries, thesaurus and encyclopedias were the hardest to remove. I couldn’t decide whether I would need them or not. Some would be useful for projects where pictures were needed and could be kept aside to cut up and the others I decided had information that could be easily googled.  I had a brainwave. Since it hurt so much to give away, I could give them to the friend who had a lending library.

As I rearranged their books in the drawers that the children find easy to handle, they came in. They saw me arrange their current favourite, Attack on Titan books in the drawer and close it shut. They glanced upwards and saw how I had arranged my own books in the glass paneled shelves. And noticed the way each title was clearly visible and looked at each other.

Then they recited in unison, ‘This is not fair. You have arranged your books so well. We also want to display our series on the shelf.’

With a heavy heart, I carved out a section of my shelf and allowed them to arrange their Attack on Titan series on my shelf. Oh! wait, I forget, the luxurious floor to ceiling shelves are no longer mine alone. It is a shared property now.’

Pic Credit: List Challenge

Also Read: Devdutt Pattanaik’s Retelling of Mahabharata, An Excerpt

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