.by Anura Guruge
Wanton destruction of anything is invariably wrong and inappropriate.
Books are sacred. Libraries are the symbols of civilization.
History vilifies the barbarians that destroyed ancient libraries.
If Oreo wants to be associated with wanton destruction, destroy a bar.
This was totally and utterly wrong, irresponsible and reprehensible.
What kind of message is this for our kids.
This is but another facet of the mindless violence that we confront each and every day.
If you thought this ad. was funny then I feel real sorry for you.
I will tell you this with conviction. You would never see an Ad. in India, China or Sri Lanka that glories the destruction of a library.
I am boycotting Oreos. They make you fat.
Please join me. Say ‘NO’ to Oreos.
Growing up in Ceylon, in the 1950s and 1960s, I had to literally and figuratively worship books by putting my hands together in supplication and bowing my head. It was nothing to do with religion. It had all to do with learning to show respect for books and what they stood for: learning and knowledge.
Both my parents were academics, though my mother wore it lightly. My father was and still is a fanatic. He was and still is obsessed with all aspects of books: reading, writing, publishing, reviewing and preserving. The obsession has been safely and completely passed on to his only child: that being me.
I grew up surrounded by books. My father had a large library at the front of the house. Three walls were covered, floor to ceiling, with books. The other wall was all glass, floor to ceiling windows. He had it built, along with the house, in the late 1950s. He used metal shelving a very novel concept in those days. But books were not restricted to the library. There were books everywhere; kind of like this house.
My father grew up dirt poor. His father was a postal carrier. My father lived in a slum, with open sewers at the front. Just like the pictures you see from Africa. My grandfather, though he would go onto be a government appointed Justice of the Peace (JP) and a very successful insurance agent, continued to live in that slum, by choice. I knew it well. We would go to visit him and my grandmother there. It was quite the contrast. Our house in Colombo, with the library, was huge with 20′ slanted mirrors, fancy stone work and an open air roof garden. Then we would go to Kandy to see my grandparents and would have to step over open sewers.
Growing up my father didn’t have money to buy books. His father did however give him a few cents a day to take the bus to school. Ceylon did not have school buses at that time. My father opted to walk the 7 miles each way and save the money. It still wasn’t enough to buy books — which in those days were expensive. But, he could collect enough to take a bus or train to a place that had a good library. He would then spend all day Saturday or holidays COPYING out textbooks into notebooks (we called them exercise book) in longhand! Yes, we have all seen copies of my father’s hand copied text books. He did this even when we was at university.
He graduated with a Ph.D., at the age of 22, using these copied texts and immediately went to work for the then Prime Minister as a Private Secretary. From the slums to the P.M. residence through education. He was a made man from that point onwards and never looked back. Guess what he did when he had the money. He bough books, more more and even more books. He is still buying books though he gave away much of his collection to educational institutions in Sri Lanka.
I could read when I was 3. There was no TV, there were no computers and there were no video games. Just the radio. So I learned to read out of necessity to keep myself entertained. As soon as I could read, in English and Sinhalese, my father made a deal with me. He would buy me and all books I desired as LONG AS THEY WERE ENGLISH! Looking back this is so funny. My father was and still is a great nationalist. My mother was an anglophile. We spoke Sinhalese and English interchangeably in the house, even switching from one to another in mid-sentence. At school I was taught in Sinhalese. We just got one period of English a day. My mother was hell bent that I would be fluent in English. My father was ambivalent. My mother would reward me, typically with chocolates or cakes, if I spoke more English at home than Sinhalese. And they bought me English books. They would buy me complete series of books, by the great English writers, in one go. I had my own library, with each series, carefully lined up together. I owned most of the books written by Enid Blyton (well over a 100). My mother was her greatest fan. I had all the Richmal Crompton ‘William‘ series (39 books). All of ‘Biggles‘. My cousins and friends were in awe. So … that is just a part of the reason, I love books.