As I begin to look back at 2017 , the Bookworm story is onto another chapter, the story line appears pretty linear from the outside. So this reflection could be straightforward.
We have much happiness to report. A growing tribe of readers with an additional LiS school this year. A new house in Chimbel for our community library. A more rigorous program that balances the demands of print engagement with lightness of book joy. Some incredibly amazing books added to the collection that promote diversity, difficult themes and sheer good writing and art. A highly creative team who act out, draw in, craft up and speak aloud when needed and always pull together. Added to all this is the gift of mature colleagues who are holding my hand tightly so that I do not fall. As the countdown begins all loose ends point to me. I need to trust the team more, need to take on less work, need to celebrate Bookworm more, need to know that we are in a different place from where we started but we are moving forward. And the chapter could end here.
But, then I am reminded that not all stories have straightforward endings. In fact I am not often drawn to these texts, I do enjoy the implied ending. So, let me leave you with some suggestions for interpretation. I am well into my forties, driven, energetic, highly motivated but intensely complex. I am not an easy person to work with, rarely does the work reach the standard I am striving for, neither mine nor others and so this team pulls on with heavy ballast of Sujata – literally and figuratively. Years of investing in people, believing in a universal goodness and that good triumphs over evil has ended up in some viper nests and dust under the belly that was not there before and this causes pain, fear and doubt about my philosophies. A community pulling away from reading, believing that the internet is the new library leaves us looking at our great books and wondering if loneliness is around the corner and then the attrition rate of team members, the compelling demands of life in and out of Goa turns me weak around the edges. The implications of this ending are not different from the first. We are moving, forward yes but now and then we take some steps backwards, to the side and even off the path, fraying in places and weathered in others.
However, does every good story simply have an implied ending over a straightforward one? I can almost see you reader out there, saying, no !!. We need a twist ending and life provides that at every turn and every opportunity. My hips and my heart know of these twists. A team that is pulling together well gets fractured by an exit that seems impulsive and unresolved. Or the imminent eviction from a community room and no place to go and suddenly a whole new space opens up at the right time or most recently the stumbling upon an idea that finds a womb in another and will grow into an amazing Big Goa Draw project. The friendships that have bloomed at Bookworm through the Dialogue, the Stitching Circle, the Poetry Appreciation Group and the Play Reading Circle are chapters in themselves, gleefully replete with all elements of conflict, tension, climax and resolution. This version of the story keeps me gripped as I do not know what is around the corner. It could be a permanent space for Bookworm that we have been waiting for, but it could also be the monumental support Dr Mrs Aurora Couto has bestowed upon us with a corpus for the Alban Couto Library Program. The turns are there , and I must simply be bold, be brave, be thankful and turn the page and move on.
And just when I imagined I have worked through most of the ways in which stories end, I remember the circular story , the one that has a tie-back and I pause to wonder how a tie back is important in my 2017 review exercise. When we recently reviewed our programs, our outreach work that tends to dominate the existence of Bookworm, all of us around the table recognised that without Bookworm’s core collection and repository in the library, we would have no soul, no heart, no system for the life that is our Bookworm work. It reminded me of where I began almost 13 years ago and where I find myself. Securely tied-back to the collection and the stories and the book joy that reading brings me and therefore the compulsion to take this out to as many people as I can in this life time.
I am back where I began but further afield in the Bookworm story and I hope you stay with us and read with us and walk with us through the conflicting and joyous bits because without you reading and writing back the Bookworm story would be a solitary exercise.