Raja Sen muses on the things you can do with a book with legs.
A few days ago, I was forwarded a piece called 'Date a girl who reads,' doing the usual rounds all over the Internet.
Affectionate at first glance, this was a rather offensive piece of simplistic drivel that assumed women who read don't do anything but live within paragraphs of their beloved books, books they keep mistaking for real life, presumably because they smell them too much.
So instead of dating a hypothetical woman who doesn't do anything but read, I exhort you to go one better:
Read a book with legs.
It'll come to you. Literally, that is. When you call it. When you lie in bed and wish you hadn't left it in the other room, all you have to do is ask for it loudly, and you'll hear its high-heeled feet coming your way.
Read a book with legs. Just imagine how much fun dog-earing would be now. And instead of buying it leather binding, you could give it fishnet stockings.
Of course, it will need more room than the average shelf. Perhaps even the guest bedroom. Yet this is but a small bargain; picture those legs casually straddling you when you lay the book face-down on your chest, to take a phone call, say. Gosh.
You can take your book to the park, and as it sits with long legs crossed, you can read in bright sunlight.
It'll go wherever you go, which is lovely. You will have to buy two tickets, of course, so air travel might be rather exorbitant. Yet the book will walk alongside you, helpfully enough with pages open so you peek through it without having even to break your stride.
Occasionally, you can take it to the library. And sit back while the legs head off to find a familiar shelf, and squeeze enthusiastically in between a Dickens and a DeLillo. Give it a while, whistle and it'll run back to you. You see that coating of dust on its jacket now? Well, that's wisdom. Just keep the legs away from the Nabakov shelf and you'll be fine.
Take care of the book with legs. Don't leave it lying around under a pile of living room clutter, its feet foraging for space between old magazines, constantly endangered by empty beer cans. Or worse, lying unattended and cold in the bathroom, its shivering legs constantly coiled in fear of spiders.
Also, while obvious, it must be stated: don't read two books with legs. If you must, keep them very, very far apart.
In different neighbourhoods, ideally. The sort of ruckus two pairs of incensed legs can kick up has to be seen to be believed, and when it comes to your shins, all bets are off.
Just because you read one first, long before the second came along, and it seems reasonable to switch from book to book, suffice it to say that the books don't buy that one bit.
But stay true to that one book with legs, and you'll be fine. It'll make you smile, it'll make you think, it'll make you weep and it'll make you break into laughter so inappropriately loud those not in the know will think you're smuggling some sort of tiny tickling woman in your overcoat. All that and it's perfect for a late night snuggle. Read a book with legs and it'll make you happy.
You could, of course, choose to instead go for a book with breasts. They're just fiendishly hard to close.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh