As children, we believed in fairies, imps, pixies and gnomes. Or at least, those of us who grew up on a steady diet of Enid Blyton, did. I remember looking for pixies and gnomes, in the garden, when I was a child. I also remember lying very quietly in my bed, listening with rapt attention, as I had read that fairies come in when children sleep. As much as I tried to stay awake, invariably my eyes would shut, and I would wake up with regrets the next day, as I had lost a chance to spot a fairy. I would console myself, and the cycle would start yet again as I was certain that they existed. The fact that I had never managed to spot one did not deter me. It was the idea that kept me going.
As adults, we narrate stories and weave magical tales for our children. We want to keep them in wonderland, at least for a while, trying our best to shield them from harsh realities of life. We read them stories that we once read as children, and enjoy the magic immensely, along with them, even though we no longer believe that fairies come in when we sleep.
But what if amidst all the news of violence and terror that plagues the world today, there exist fairies that add some magic to life? How wonderful would that be? It isn’t just a fond wish — there do exist book fairies!
Two weeks ago, I discovered their existence, when I got tagged on Instagram, with a picture of one of my novels, which a book fairy had dropped off at a public location in Delhi. Intrigued I dug deeper, and discovered that Book Fairies are a group of people who drop off books that they have read and enjoyed, at public locations for other people to find. The initiative was started in the United Kingdom, and quickly spread to other countries. Currently there exist 5,000 book fairies in 100 countries, right from UAE to New Zealand, who are sharing books and brining joy in other people’s lives. Emma Watson had launched the initiative in March this year, by hiding books all across London for people to find.
I contacted the Indian arm of book fairies, and got in touch with Keshav Chhabra who is currently pursuing a Masters degree in English Literature from Delhi University. It was his love for books that prompted him to join the initiative and he wrote to Cordelia, the chief book fairy, who helped him set up the Indian chapter. In India, there are eight official locations for book fairies — Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, Indore and Punjab. Apart from this there are dozens of book fairies dropping off books, at different parts of India.
The book fairies have an official sticker, which you have to stick on the cover of the book, so that the person who finds the book knows what it is, and what to do. Keshav says, “Being a book fairy is exciting, as regular parcels of books, make my day. When we drop off books, and post it on instagram, we get messages from people asking for exact location of books.”
The frequently asked section of the book fairies site, has an interesting answer to the question: How to spot a book fairy?
“One big giveaway for book fairies is that their eyes are constantly darting around the place, looking for great spots to put their books. These spots are carefully chosen, so that they can leave the book without being seen, but also the book needs to be visible enough for the next person to spot it! The book fairies are often carrying large bags full of books, with the tell-tale green and white sticker.”
For authors, who want to be a part of the book-fairy initiative, there is a special section, where they can get in touch, and donate the books which they would like to give away for the readers to find. The moment a book fairy drops off a book, there is a photo put up, on instagram and twitter along with the hash-tag #ibelieveinbookfairies. To know where the next book will be dropped off, follow the official twitter handle @bookfairies_ind
If you have a book that you have finished reading, do spread the joy by joining in and becoming a book fairy. Anyone can be become one. All you need is a book to give away and a generous heart.
(Preeti Shenoy is the author of eight bestselling books,the latest being a fiction titled It’s All In The Planets)