Way before the age of Goddess Google and looking within oneself for answers, I used to depend a great deal on my grandmother or ammamma as I called her. She’d make ink stains disappear just like that and resolve every query I ever had as a kid. Most of the time, she knew what to do or she’d pull out her one-stop book for everything and ask me to read. The book, Enquire Within Upon Everything, was her paperback version of our modern day browser.
I owe ammamma for nurturing my curiosity. She grand mothered us four siblings under one roof. Like most children, I felt she considered me more special. I loved her to death of course. So much so, after her passing, I promptly staked claim to her book by scrawling a crude signature on it long before I could truly sign.
Though Enquire Within Upon Everything holds an obscure place on my shelf, it’s still a valued possession. Books were a luxury then. We made it a point to cover them and keep them dust free as far as possible. The brown paper cover has since been silver-fished through. The pages have yellowed, as they should. It smells nice like all old books do.
Intrinsic worth. Varied usefulness. And cheapness.
The publisher of Enquire Within Upon Everything, Herbert Jenkins Ltd., published PG Wodehouse novels. What I have is the 119th edition, reprinted in 1939. It sold nearly 2,000,000 copies. Not bad for a how-to book back in the day. In the Publisher’s preface, there’s special mention of how its “intrinsic worth, varied usefulness, and cheapness have won for it universal esteem.” Amusing use of words. Come to think of it, I’m subconsciously always looking for these very qualities in a mall.
“Life is too short for mean anxieties”.
Every page in this book—there are 545 pages in all—has a quote in the header. Quotes you and I could put to use on social media.I may never read Enquire Within Upon Everything from cover to cover. Nor will I give it away. The book connects me to my grandmother in far more poignant ways than an ouija board would. A lot has changed since the book has been published but there’s a lot more that hasn’t. It’s still a great reference source if I need old recipes. Household hints. Rules for card games. Remedies. The author is unknown. I looked on the net and was amazed to see the book is still available for next to nothing. If I were you, I’d grab it. This one is for keeps. Read it.
But “above all, read yourself”. Pg. 317