I flipped the bookmark from Flipkart, which came free with the books I'd ordered from the website, in my hand. This one's shaped like a comb, the implication being since you'd be so engrossed in reading your book, it's time to take a break and groom yourself a bit. There was another one shaped like a clothes hanger. A hanger! Well, it's a clever marketing strategy by the online portal.
It's their way to announce that they would also be selling clothes besides books and electronic goods.
I realised that every bookmark has a story to tell. Lines from Ahmad Faraz's ghazal (sung by Mehdi Hasan) echo in my mind:
'Ab ke hum bichde to shayad kabhi khwabon main mile
Jis tarha sukhe hue phool kitabon main mile…'
Surely a dry rose found between the pages of a teenager's book is indicative of the first flush of love; and dry strawberry leaves pressed neatly between the pages of a thick novel are reminiscent of my maiden trip to the US, when I went fruit picking to a nearby farm. I remember how we gorged on the delicious fruit like crazy and had a literal strawberry brunch. Beautiful memories!
As I flip through the family photo album, I find another one, a beautiful hand-painted bookmark gifted to my daughter by her class teacher on finishing high school. The teacher had painstakingly decorated and written a personalised quote on each bookmark to gift to her students.
There are times though, when I may not use a bookmark at all. It may be enough to just fold the corner of the page. Also often while teaching my students, I place a pen between the pages to mark them and later wonder where all my pens get lost!
There also used to be a time when I made my own bookmarks (before Flipkart and Amazon) by cutting up strips from fancy greeting cards and wedding invites. A colourful feather, found while walking in the park, makes me feel like a maharani of yore. Wooden ice-cream spoons also came in handy. Just don't forget to make a smiley face on one side.
Which is the weirdest bookmark that I have ever used? A used tea-bag tag! Actually that was the nearest object I could lay my hands on when I was looking to mark my page in a scurry. email@example.com
(Ritu Nanda is a Chandigarh-based educationist and blogger)