And they lived happily ever after. There were girls and a library. Once upon a time.
I am really a library man and have always been more at home at a library than anywhere else. There were many hours when I never quite know how I’d gotten there or why I stayed. And HyderaMAD, taking the initiative, started from scratch, reinvented the library-wheel by making it rectangular and merrily propelled it downhill towards Rainbow Girls’ Home. Magic happened.
To describe that rectangular space would probably need a Kalashnikov full of adjectival bullets, and a few dozen grenades that explode into exclamations.
The walls hand-painted by the kids themselves in splish-splash-splooshes of bright reds, yellows, greens and blues; the shelves already brimming with books as more were brought in: fairy-tales, storybooks, graphic novels, comics, dictionaries, encyclopedias, children’s novels, picture-books, WOW! It was time to begin.
I first entered the space that was the library. Ta-dah! Everyone in the room was mesmerized at how beautiful and cozy it looked. Seena Jacob, the founder of Bookwallah, MAD’s associate who furnished us with the books, the gear, the shelves, the paints, the every tangible thing that went into the making of the library was introduced.
We discussed how everything happened so quickly, how lovely the space looked, while girls intermittently poke their wide-eyes through the half-open door in delight-filled expectations.
The children earnestly entered the library in a train of an intriguing height-like-hierarchy. Seena made her introductions, hugged the girls, shook eager hands.
The library session was finally divided into two groups of under and over the age of twelve. The former group exited the library for a doodle-activity, while the older girls discovered the fascination the library held, some of them entering one for the first time.
The younger girls with their sheets of drawing paper and crayons kicked off a doodle marathon, while the other group of girls were already enamoured of the ensorcelled world of books. One couldn’t stop themselves from juggling between these two places.
Minutes ticked. Everyone rallied around helping the girls finish their doodles. There were rainbows, houses, libraries, books, flowers, the sun, blue-clouds, butterflies, smileys, birds, everything merry, vivacious, zipping through the sheets. And big ‘Thank-you’s.
Lemonade and chai were making rounds, and girls were rendering finishing touches to their doodles and submitting them, while also joyously posing for photographs.
And the Library-day was not only about drawing and reading books; it encompassed games of throwball in the playground, carom-boards, singing along and everyone’s favourite – Stones.
I find myself standing at the door to the library, smiling to myself, looking around, listening to the younger girls now. A couple of them are reciting flawless rhymes, at another corner somebody’s reading out a longer story, another little girl is struggling to climb up on the table near the shelves.
The room is packed, full of a babel of conversations, but they come to me clear, discreet, innocent. I wished I was one of those books. I am almost on the edge of breaking into tears – there’s so much happiness – when Gloria asks me to read a book to one of the girls.
Inside one of the other rooms, meanwhile, a giant collage is being painted by a group of a dozen girls. Even after we’ve come to the end of the event, there are more bottles of happiness to be shared, more kids to laugh with; there is always something left to love. I joined the kids and drew on a sheet of paper, plugged on a song and sang along, and… and… and… I am getting a little too schmaltzy here.
Wow. What a day. The girls wave as I leave and I say goodbyes to the whole core team caboodle too. The parting smiles were prescient indicators of a job well done and that we owned MAD’s hottest real-estate.
Admin’s note: The volunteer who wrote this is talking exclusively of the day that the library was inaugurated. He forgot to mention, however, those who worked hard on the project in the days running up to it. We thank ‘Dear Imagination’ for their invaluable support and involvement throughout the project and the irreplaceable creativity that they brought to the table! Thank you, guys! This wouldn’t have happened without you!