Hyderabad: When was the last time you curled up in bed with a book in hand? May be a decade ago or more. Or is it once-upon-a-time, to use the cliché? Times have certainly changed and so have reading habits. Blame it on technology, one can’t have enough of the modern gadgets.
Whatever happened to bookworms? Perhaps the expression itself doesn’t hold good anymore — at least not with the generation next.
Now, we have people peering into their smartphones endlessly.
Psychologists have a new clinical name for this addiction. They call it ‘nomophobia’ (short for no mobil phone phobia). Youngsters press the panic button at the very thought of being separated from their smartphones.
“My children will rather go to bed hungry than have their mobiles snatched,” remarks a friend bringing into sharp focus the desperation among youngsters to the mobiles.
Small wonder footfalls have come down in libraries. Even diehard bibliophiles have turned to either Kindle, smart boards, tablets or e-books to slake their thirst for reading.
Thanks to digital technology who will rummage through dusty library shelves for a piece of information when you can have it at the click of a button.
Not to run the risk of becoming obsolete libraries have started embracing technology and providing online access to their database.
All said and done the pleasure of holding physical books and reading at one’s convenience and in a posture one likes is simply inexplicable. Can a tablet emit the ethereal smell of ink that a book gives?
What about the joy of turning dog-eared pages or coming upon dried flowers in the folds of books. A click will change the screen but the taste of licking the forefinger while shuffling pages is something else.
The noted poet Gulzar, who was in the city recently, took everyone down memory lane when he recited his new nazm, Kitabein (books).
He touched a raw nerve, explaining how books now languish in almirahs waiting longingly for someone to take them out:
Kitabein jhankti hain bund almari ke sheeshon se
Badi hasrat se takti hain
Mahinon ab mulaqatein nahin hotin
(Books peer through glass doors of the bookcase
For months there are no meetings now)
Books used to serve another purpose too. On the pretext of taking and giving them to the beloved, the tomes are allowed to fall — leading to blossoming of new ties:
Kitbabein maangne, girne, uthane ke bahane rishte bante the
Inka kya hoga?
Wo shayad ab nahin honge
(Relationships were build while borrowing, dropping and picking up books
What about those?
That may never happen)
These verses evoke memories of the famous encounter between the hero and heroine in the movie Mere Mehboob, when they collide in college and the books in their hands fall. This is simply unthinkable with a laptop. It would break if you let it slip....