Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Sale Note

When Satya called me two days back to announce that he was planning to sell off his library, I thought for a moment that he was joking. So I replied him coolly "fine, tell me your quote, I shall buy it". It was usual for us to chit-chat this way when we met casually. Whenever the talk turns to routine financial difficulties, he would say "Manju, take my library and give me two thousand bucks" I would say "that is too much".

I was lost in thoughts. After a brief pause he told, "No Manju, I am serious". Really? Having lost his younger brother just a few days back, I remembered he was not in a mindset to joke. Then was he really going to sell off his library? I could not believe it. Had this not been a joke, it was not Satya then! I had seen him from my childhood; I grew watching him build his library - book by book.

A small boy with cinema drama and literature filled in his heart and soul, he had left for Bangalore with a big dream in his eyes. True to his dreams, he grew quite a bit as an artist, if not in terms of social/economic standards. He formed his own artistic and cultural life, working with the likes of C.G.Krishnaswamy of Ranganirantara, B V Karantha etc. Popularly known as "Katlu Satya" in amateur theatrical circles, he authored many plays like "baavi", "daambaru bandaddu" etc that won him many accolades from the public and experts alike. He made a good name as a theater artist and a director as well.

The kind of care-free and simplest of simple life-style that he had developed for himself was a matter of envy for us. Like cinema and stage, books was his another passion. While we all resorted to TV, Cinema for our entertainment needs, Satya frequented the book stalls to beat the boredom. Wherever there was a book exhibition or sale in the city, Satya should visit the same; should buy at least 5-6 books; did not matter if it was first hand-second hand or costly-cheap. If the book was valuable, it should be brought home. There was the kind of engrossment in his shopping for books, one that one would find in a boy who shops for his toys. Book purchase was not just for show off. As soon as the book came home he should sit and finish reading it in next two three days. Since most of the books was bought at book fairs, being new and costly, it had turned out to be a very costly affair. Every hundred rupees that he saved would serve to buy a book, he thought. Best part of savings/earnings went go into books. Thus the library, rather than just a library, was an extension of his very personality. He had developed the kind of affinity with each book in his 2500 strong collection that he was able to tell with an impeccable exactness, which book was where, what the content was and where it was torn, when and why. It was a matter of pride to exhibit his collection. After all, it was an owner's pride, really.

Should somebody decide to sell such a prized possession, the situation must be really serious. Though I did not ask this personal question, it was quite evident that he had been through this decision-making nightmare for past two months before finally deciding to sell off his sole "property". Of course this could be a temporary phase, that would pass over with a little endurance, but this (parting with his possession) would be something permanent and should not happen for any reason; for his book collection was an inseparable part of his personality; not something that could be sold to meet some worldly demands. I thought hard if something could be done to save his possession. But the mess was too big for any of his well wishers/friends to resolve. Even the sales proceeds of this library would only meet the most urgent part of the total demand. There seemed no other way than selling the library off.

While I was lost in these thoughts, Satya interrupted: "Manju I know it pains you; I know that you can't afford a library at this point of time, but all I am asking you is to write about it. I am sure there are people out there as crazy as myself; our current task is just to find and establish a connection with them. Since you have interests similar to mine, I am sure there could be such lots in your friend-circle"

I felt so too.

Well, now down to business. He expects the library - with around 2500 books spanning from archaic literature to modern ones, western to eastern, and drawing from a wide spectrum of poetry, poetics, drama, history, spirituality, science, arts, theater etc - to fetch him at least Rs.2 Lakhs (an average of Rs.80 per book). Any book lover knows that the intrinsic value of a book is far more than its face value, especially if it is a collection. It is the value of the "collection" that is more than the sum total of value of individual books. And it is the Library as a whole that is put up for sale, not individual books. Any single individual or group of individuals can buy the library, but the condition is, the library should be bought as a whole. Else, he feels, it does not even serve his financial needs, and moreover it is painful to watch the personal library cannibalized and disappearing into oblivion. Added to this, the hope is that the buyer of his library would look after the library intact.

Here are some snaps of his book collection.

Those interested can contact Mr. Satyanarayana directly; visit him and his library at Bangalore personally. His mobile number is + 91 94487 03864

While the decision itself is painful, I personally wish that its execution is less painful; for it is not just the question of buying/selling a library but the question of ones faith in a value. If it harms ones belief that one can live by himself without any materialistic dimensions, our tonnes of writing and ages of dreaming about a non-materialistic and simple life-style is a waste.


Arun BR said...

Its good effort Mr Manjunath on broader sense I think we should promote community library only then our literature will flourish. Thats what my personal thinking is.

Sagar Arya said...

Hi.. Pls contact - DD- Chandana channel. There's a quiz program called "That Anta Heli" conducted by Dr N Someshwar, they give kannada books as prizes to the participants. So please try to approach them, they might help you in some way... You should contact DD - Chandana. This program comes from mon - fri at 10.30 PM on DD Chandana.

Badarinath Palavalli said...


i apreciate ur concern. our kasthuri channel is planning for a inhouse library. i will try to speak with him.

i will come back to ur blog for more readings

pl. visit my blog

nenapina sanchy inda said...

Books are my passion too. i have a collection of 3000 books that i wont part with whatever the circumstance!! last year when my husband gave away 200 books to the office library i was so heart broken. i prefer to spend on books rather than clothes!!
R u sure your friend truly wants to give away his books? It might be a spur of the moment decision
thanks for reading my ramblings
malathi S