By R. K. Narayan
My blackest thoughts are reserved for those who borrow my books. I am unable to forgive a man who fails to return a book he has taken from my shelf. I would not hesitate to tell him precisely what I thought of him, if he would only give me a chance to speak, but as a general rule the book pirate shows no inclination to continue his friendship with me; he stoops besides his hedge and remains still until I have safely passed his gate : if he meets me on the road face to face he doubles his pace with an air of one going desperately in search of doctor. It is a matter of life and death to someone, and he has no time to engage himself in any conversation centering round some miserable book in a weak moment. This is the worst of the book pirate. He begins to feel that it was due to some weakness that he ever entertained the idea perusing such and such a book, while a busy man like him could find no time even to read his(neighbour’s) newspaper fully. Later it developes it develops into an aversion both for the book and the man who lent him it. For a few days he keeps saying, “ I have not yet read it, but I’d like to, if I may .” And the lender of the book , ever a generous brood, says, “Oh yes, by all means keep it. You have kept it so long, it would be pointless if you returned it without going through it keep it, keep it”.
At the next meeting the lender feels delicate to ask again about the book. A few months pass and then a happy new year and another happy one, and suddenly you realize that the gap in your bookshelf is still there. And then one day you abruptly begin the meeting with: ‘Where is the book?’ ‘Which book?’ asks the gentleman.
When you have succeeded in stimulating his memory, he only says,’ oh, that! I will have to search for it. Naturally you don’t like the tone, and say: ‘well, why not search now?’.Your instinct now tells you will never see you book. You will feel that you are now seeing humanity at its worst....