Lend a book, lose a friend

Having a good collection of books has proved to be a harrowing experience for me. Anybody who comes home likes to take a book along and being a teacher, I find it better for books to be read by people than be displayed in the bookshelves. But, somehow, my experiences with lending have been far from pleasant.

One of my students, about to get married, came to me for advice and what better way could I help him than give him a book on Marriage. Today, after almost two years, when this man has sired a son (thanks to the book) the book still needs to be returned to its lawful owner. All my requests for returning it have fallen on deaf ears. Probably, the book is still inspiring this young man and he wants to gift it to his son

The other day, a very comely, petite young thing came home and a book on body language caught her fancy. And you know how difficult it is to say no to a beautiful woman, and naturally, she departed with the big, fat book neatly tucked away. The request for a return after about two months elicited another request for an extension, as the book was still unfinished. After four months I landed up at her place for the book.

She very demurely said that she still had to read the last few chapters. So I requested that she take the book again later. This brought out the truth, that she had lent the book to another friend. I was aghast at this disclosure and wondered what right a borrower had to circulate the borrowed book further without the lender’s permission. Anyway, I requested her to return the book after getting it back from her friend. After a couple of days, this person informs me with a sullen face that the book has been misplaced by her friend.

So, I gave her time to search out this book, because it was a very rare book and difficult to find. After repeated requests, she finally announced that the book had been lost. I naturally got cross and asked her to buy me the book. She tried all over the town and finally told me that the book was not available in the market. And ultimately, she came one fine morning and gave me the money for the book, with a look of great pain and distress, as if it were my fault. And looking back, I think it was my fault, I shouldn’t have lent the book in the first place.

Habits die hard and bad habits die even harder. I was again going to lend a book to a friend, the other day when my wife reminded me of my last two wonderful experiences. This made me narrate to my friend these instances and taking a hint he left the book behind. Today, we are still friends.

Now a small placard adorns my bookshelf, suggested by Sarah, my daughter Anna’s class teacher, which reads: “This book is a private collection and not a lending library, and the owner is a very mean person.”

Capt BJ Singh

Published article as middle in Free Press Journal