Mithralal S., lives in a small house in the sole company of a large collection of books in Koottuveli, near Cherthala.
Nowadays, the 53-year-old is at ease after retiring voluntarily from his government post as an assistant professor at Mahatma Gandhi University (MG) in Kottayam two years ago to pursue his one true love: reading. Sitting on an armchair surrounded by bookshelves, Mr Mithralal says reading helps him to “understand the world” better and “realize the truth”.
The Bibliophile’s House Library has a collection of over 3,000 books including ancient texts, classics, novels, poems, spirituals, short stories, and more. “For me, reading is like breathing. Each book teaches me something new. It redefines my orientation on the world. By reading Neruda, you understand the revolution in an aesthetic way. Reading Kalidasa, ONV or works by other authors offer quite different experiences. . I quit my job to find more time for reading and meditation and to build a good library. Every book, to me, is a brick,” says Mr. Mithralal.
He developed a passion for reading while studying in high school. “At the time, I could not afford to buy books and depended mainly on public libraries. During my university studies, I bought books by making my father believe that certain books were necessary for educational purposes. I think developing a passion for reading at a relatively young age helped me become a lifelong reader,” says Mr. Mithralal, who spends most of his money buying books and traveling.
Mr Mithralal says his perspective on reading, life and death underwent a profound change after facing a near-death experience at the age of 31. “After this experience, I became paranormal and even the psychiatrists couldn’t identify what was really happening to me. By chance, I read Raymond Moody’s The light beyond. It changed my outlook on everything,” he says.
After getting divorced some time ago, Mithralal lives a life of loneliness. “For me, family is secondary. Reading with solitude can learn many things. Living a life of solitude is a different experience. In solitude, we are not in competition with anyone,” says Mithralal.
On August 10, he is going on a trip all over India, which he says will help him better understand the ancient country.