I think my love for books started as a love for stories.
When I was young, my parents disconnected the cable connection in my house, as they thought it was spoiling me rotten, which it did. So the only way to spend my summer vacation was by listening to my Patti’s stories. And she had stories, lots and lots of them. Religious ones, moral ones, folk tales and more, in all shapes and sizes. My days were filled with them.
But eventually she ran out of them. And started repeating the same. And I started getting bored.
Weekends were my mom’s turn. She too, was also an avid reader. She used to, still does, read books while eating. I was so inspired by her when I was young. I wanted to be like her. When I asked for stories from her books, she told me that they were the ones for reading but not telling. So, she told me as I was big enough that I can read them myself. I was five.
I went through a cycle of weekly story magazines for kids in Tamil, then gradually moved on an alternating cycle of Magicpot and Champak. Tinkle was for special occasions, it was costly. And boy, was I hooked. I used to read them from cover to cover. Did all the crafts and coloring section, solved all the puzzles and made it my mission to complete them on the day that they arrived. And I started asking her for more. I think that started annoying her.
I remember the day I got a real book. Just for myself. It was the day that we were shifting from the city that I was brought up in to a totally new city. Salem to Vellore. My house was in total chaos. But my mom took me shopping that day. I don’t know what got into her, now that I think about it After her shopping, she took me to a small, cramped book store. It was filled with books an the smell of incense. She bought a bag full of Tamil books. When I asked for whom it was, she said they were for me.
It was a set of Ponniyin selvan, Sivagamin sabatham and Parthiban kanavu, by Kalki.
I was ecstatic. My dad told me, he had read it 7 times when he was young. My Patti shared her fond memories. And I made it my mission to complete Sivagamiyin sabatham. And I did, again and again, until those books were dog eared, torn and ripped apart, until you cant hold it in your hand any more. Oh, how sweet were those reckless days!
I read those books 8 times, from the age of 7 to 11. Mind you, each of them had more than 5 parts. I used to carry them everywhere with me. During breaks in school, before sleeping, after waking up, while eating, after eating, always. In fact, I think my parents were the only adults who allowed me to read during dinner. Every one else scolded me for my bad habit. Actually I think they allowed me because that do it too!
I have those books by heart, and my love for them never diminishes. They were like my first love! Those were the books that got me through many things.
Then I moved on to English novels. Like most of the Indian teenagers, I started my journey with Famous five, Adventurous seven and Goosebumps from the school library. And Harry potter! God, those were good times! The first ‘real’ adult book that I read was Sands of time by Sidney Sheldon. At that time it seemed like the best book ever written, I was so hooked and I read many other books by her. It was a vicious cycle.
And that journey still continues. During those early years, I have tried to read Jane Austen many time and failed. But during my college days,I conquered them. And, Wow! My love for classics began!
I am not the kind of reader that by hearts the lines. I am the kind that remembers the feeling that I got while reading them. Like, when Jo in Little women talks about women’s voting rights and when Laurie asks Jo to marry him and she rejects. Like, when Gatsby’s love for Daisy becomes clear. Like, when Elizabeth knows about Mr. Darcy’s true self and his feelings when she reads his letter. Like, when Snape’s love for Lilly becomes apparent and we know that it was him that was protecting Harry all along. Like, when Katniss speaks about Rue in her District, even though she knows it was against Capitol’s wish. Like, when I solved the mystery of Amy Dunne from Gone Girl in my head.
Those are the things that travel with me where ever I go. And when I re-read those books, I think of the time when I read it the first time. And how much I have grown since then. How naive and innocent I was, and how much my perspective on the world has changed.
So, yeah these book are a kind of road map, that marks my mental and emotional maturity. Still a long way to go, a lot to read and a great deal to see!
To quote Alan ‘Snape’ Rickman,
“When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter,” the quote card says. “And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ And I will say, ‘Always.’”
P.s. Can you believe it is 20 years since HP and the Sorcerer’s stone?! For another 20 years and more!
Cheers! *Rises kappi tumbler*