Photo Credit: Aswin V.N.
Author: Rekha Vijayalakshmi
Jayasree Library, a kilometer away from my house, was the first one that I joined, in 1979.
As a sixth grader, I fought hard with my parents to join one of the big libraries in the city, where the best books were, but I was considered too young to travel alone by the “city bus”. Jayasree library was near enough for me to walk to on my own, and was offered as consolation when my demand grew too strident.
The library was in a small backroom of the building. A reading room with newspapers and the recreational center upstairs occupied most of the two-storied building. It didn’t really have a children’s section, save a few books by Enid Blyton, and some classics that we were all supposed to read at a young age. But anything was better to me than being book-less on hot summer afternoons, so I went there diligently.
Funnily enough for Trivandrum, no one bothered me about being the only female, and most of the time the only child, on the premise.
Earl Stanley Gardener’s Perry Mason books and Agatha Christie’s works were my usual picks from the shelves. The books of James Hadley Chase with salacious cover photos were far more boring than the pictures suggested. I ignored them after a couple of samplings. Once I chose the books, a young man known to me only as “Lekha’s brother” would make entries in a logbook, and issue them to me. I remember gratefully his patience with me when one of my classmates to whom I had lent a library book (against the rules), held on to it all through the summer.
Like the toys and games of childhood, I abandoned Jayasree Library as soon as I got a chance to move on to the bigger libraries that I had set my eyes on.
But it is still operational, supported I am sure, by patrons more loyal than I was.