By Anita Iyer
On my last visit home in May, I found a worn-out copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer among the other books that needed dusting.
While flipping through, I found a World Wresting Federation (WWF ) ‘Trump Card’ in one of the pages. The card bore the image of Hulk Hogan. The page marked was where Tom and friend Huck plan to go to MacDougal’s Cave.
The Trump Card took me back a couple of years. I had hidden it from my brother. He would never suspect that to hide it from him, I had used it as a bookmark. It worked — for so many years. That was the first random bookmark I used.
In school, the ruler was a common bookmark, even though many of my classmates didn’t think twice before dog earring the page.
When I entered junior college, my librarian, without mincing words, said sternly, “Do not fold the pages of the books you borrow from college. Or don’t borrow at all.” The message was drilled loud and clear. I never dared fold pages ever.
During college, we would use coloured post-its to mark our pages and scribble on those pink-yellow-purple stubs of paper.
Over time, my bookmarks kept changing — from bus tickets to expired monthly Mumbai train passes, movie tickets, plane tickets, till the print faded. On those then you could doodle.
I remember thinking multiple times to replace the DJ Avicii ticket from his 2013 gig in Mumbai. It was placed in my copy of Vikram Chandra’s The Srinagar Conspiracy. The ticket never made to my bank of memorabilia — it slipped out of my book during one of my rides in the Mumbai locals. This April, that memory came flashing back when I heard the 28-year-old musician had died. I should have replaced the concert ticket with a different bookmark.
A photographer friend at my first job kept a 35mm roll film in his books. It drew everybody’s attention as the film contained pictures he had clicked. Now, in the age of DSLR, I wonder what he uses to mark pages.
Bookmarks, in a subtle way, reflect our personalities. Have you seen a rose kept between the pages? And then there are those who use leaves. An environmentalist I interviewed years back had laminated different leaves to keep in books. With colourful tassels hanging from the laminated leaves, they were worthy of being gifted.
Whenever I visit a new place, I visit souvenir shops to pick up bookmarks. The metallic ones that have text engraved in the local languages or that depict a scene of folklore are so tempting.
While a few, like me, love to buy bookmarks, some just leave the book face-down on the table. I tell people it strains the spine of the book, but not everyone minds that. It’s one of my complaints about e readers — I don’t get to use my beloved bookmarks.
Anita is browsing through beginner’s videos to make her own bookmarks