There was this librarian in my junior school. He’s easily the best librarian I have met. From what I remember, he enjoyed being a librarian to more than a thousand kids. He’d go around and talk to us, ask us about what we were reading, make us identify characters on the book covers. He loved having us around. The room was always clean, organized and cozy. I loved volunteering at the library. I’d write pockets for new books, and help mop the floor on Saturdays.

Maybe it was because the reading culture wasn’t so great then; any kid who visited the library as frequently as I did became his favorite. He even made the school award me a certificate for reading the maximum number of books. I can’t tell you how much that one piece of yellow paper has helped me get selected for things.

“Kezang,” he’d say and point towards a shelf. “I’m saving a spot there for your book.” I was only thirteen. To have someone believe in me the way he did when I had only started to experiment with writing stories, it was the nicest thing anyone had told me.

I was reading the Harry Potter series and had fallen in love, but unfortunately the library had only the first four books. After the Goblet of Fire, I was dying to read the next book. He understood how I felt and lent me a personal copy of the final book. I was skipping two books if I directly read that but I took what I got.

Then I graduated. I was going to a different school in a few months, so I was volunteering at the library until December 17. The library got new arrivals and the fifth book in the HP series was in it. I was so happy! But unfortunately I wasn’t able to check it out anymore. So every day I’d go to the corner, take “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince” off the shelf, hug it and whisper, “I love you sooooo much! Too bad I can’t read you.”

I think he saw. It’s quite embarrassing. One day I was writing pockets when he gave me the book and said, “You can have this.”

That day I experienced the utmost joy. All the way home I hugged the book and grinned so wide my cheeks hurt. He must have replaced it later or paid for it, but that one random gesture of kindness made a lasting impact on the little girl that I was. I loved books with a passion stronger than before, and I haven’t given up writing. I don’t know where he is now. The space on that shelf is still figuratively empty. What matters is that he was a big reason for my love for books.

(The writer is a former RTC topper)