Growing a tree of knowledge at home: TN couple convert living room into library

It was during the trying times of Covid-19 pandemic that Kalaivanan observed his neighbours wiling away their time idly.
Kalaivanan and G Sujatha at their home library (Sriram R)
Kalaivanan and G Sujatha at their home library (Sriram R)

PUDUCHERRY: Kalaivanan’s house in Kirumambakkam village, modest in size yet boundlessly generous, bears markings of a multi-cultural space. An idea that took root on his wedding day, has now blossomed into a deep-rooted tree of knowledge right in his living room. In a culture where reading has become an esoteric, mystical pursuit, Kalaivanan is fighting the good fight, to democratise reading.

When the social activist pitched the idea of converting their living room into a library to his wife, G Sujatha, she wholeheartedly embraced it. Their love story began during their participation in the Nehru Yuva Kendra cultural exchange program, and continues to date towards the explicit aim of empowering the community.

Within their humble abode, the main hall has been transformed into a fully-fledged library with a meticulously curated collection of nearly two hundred books. The titles, originally acquired for Kalaivanan’s reading pleasure, have now become a source of inspiration and information for many others.

Kalaivanan believes books have the power to change individuals, and consequently, society as a whole. “I have been an avid reader since my childhood, exploring books beyond the confines of formal education,” he says.

(Photo | Sriram R, EPS)
(Photo | Sriram R, EPS)

It was during the trying times of Covid-19 pandemic that Kalaivanan observed his neighbours wiling away their time idly. This compelled him to open his doors and invite them in, to utilise his reading material. Much to his delight, the simple gesture piqued the interest of the neighbours, who started to visit more often.

Kalaivanan and his wife, over the past three years, have organised small book fairs inside their home, with support from reputed publishers, putting out their copies at discounted rates. “In an era dominated by digital gadgets and Internet connectivity, books at home have become crucial,” he notes.

The younger generation, despite their educational commitments, visit Kalaivanan’s home library in the evenings. “As means to further nurture their reading habit, I am planning to expand the library’s collection and begin lending books to those interested. Books are not just mere possessions, they have the power to transform entire lives,” says Kalaivanan.

Recognising the need for inner peace in today’s world, the home library also has a room dedicated to meditation. He extends this space to students and individuals who inspired Kalaivanan to organise complimentary coaching classes for competitive exams.

Currently serving as a field inspector with the Department of Performing Arts at Pondicherry University, Kalaivanan remains actively engaged in diverse social initiatives through Nehru Yuva Kendra and various other organisations. He is determined to fulfil his wife’s aspiration to resume her education.

(Edited by Ajay UK)

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The New Indian Express