The book that saw it all

From Chennai to Claymont – my copy of ‘All the light we cannot see’ holds a story even outside its pages


One of the best books I have read in a long long time. Besides the writing, which in true sense, is a class apart, this book is special to me for it has partaken in my journey to a new continent.

I have been savouring it slowly. A few pages while I was in Chennai, still a bachelorette; a few pages in Kerala in the days leading to my wedding.

I carried it to my husband’s home in Chennai, and from there to Kumbakonam for his brother’s wedding. It came back with me to Chennai and lay in the bottom of my handbag besides my passport, gloves, beanie and scarf, as I geared up for the significant change in my life.

Shift to the States.

Here, it lay untouched for a week. And then I opened it, once I was more accustomed to the silence, to the cold and the lack of people around. The book must have been surprised too. Where is the tiled floor? – it would have thought while accidently falling from the accent table to the carpeted floor. Or when its pages rustled in the hot air from the heater. Or when it lay in the closet for days in the bag which I deemed too big and stuffy to be taken while on a trip to New York.

It now has a brand new Ikea shelf for a home, as opposed to the glass-pane shelves in my Chennai apartment where it shared space with ceramic dolls and unused candle holders.

It has come a long way from resting in the air conditioned interiors of Starmark, Express Avenue, Chennai, to facing sub-zero temperatures of Claymont, Delaware. And it has seen a lot of me, and patiently remained a warm companion, even as I changed three bookmarks, mercilessly folded its pages, and abandoned it for a snazzy People or Vogue at times.

While it definitely will be a long time before I read as gripping a story as the one of blind Marie Laure and white-haired Werner set in the peak of World War 2, All the light we cannot see will always remain that book which let me turn its pages, as I turned a new page in my life.

Thank you Anthony Doerr.