Sunday, 15 June 2014

An Everlasting Bond


My sojourn with books began as a very small child. Even before I learnt to read :) With a dad who reads extensively and an elder sis who had already been drawn into the world of books, reading caught my fancy quite early in life. As a little kid who could make no sense of the letters in a book, I would simply take one, turn pages and chant a line which I had learnt from a TV ad, pretending to read. Funnily enough, the line was 'No more bathrooms' :). It featured in an ad from a company that sold luxury bathroom fittings I think and I somehow took a fancy to it. So every night, when dad and sis buried themselves in their books and so did mom for she had no other choice, I would also sit with a flashy book, turn the pages and religiously chant 'No more bathrooms' much to amusement of all of them. I'd do this exercise for about 10 minutes, announce that I had finished the book and only then would I dutifully go to sleep.

In spite of this encouraging beginning, I had trouble learning to read when I was in class 1. I still remember the trepidation in my heart on the day when we had to read a page from the story 'Hansel and Gratel' for an oral test. I knew the contents of only the first page, not that I could read it, but because it was a simple one liner that I had heard many times in class.I was roll number 1 and was frantically hoping that the teacher would call out to read in the roll number order so that I could simply say the one liner from memory and get away. But as luck always has it, she started according to seating order and when my turn came, I got a huge paragraph which I could make absolutely no sense of ! Yes, I could individually make out the alphabets but had no clue how to read them when put together. Now if I think of it, I can only wonder why :)

Finally it was mom who taught me to read, not my teachers in school. After she got a complaint from my class teacher, we both went together all the way to Higginbothams  in Mount Road, bought Hansel and Gratel and exercised with it until I could read all the pages. In fact, I was given so much practice that I started reciting the book with eyes closed after a few days and defeated the purpose :)

After that, there was no looking back. The library that we regularly visited as a family and had simply been a monument of un-understandable books until then, opened out an arena of new possibilities. Sis picked the first book for me. It was titled 'Amelia Jane' - a story of a very naughty toy in a toy cupboard. It was about how the other toys had a tough time dealing with her and how they finally set her ways right. With Amelia Jane followed by Noddy, the reading bug won over me. I became a happy part of the amazing world of books and slowly graduated like all kids do - from Noddy to Enid Blyton's adventure tales to Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew mysteries and then diverged into multiple authors. Books began to engulf my life. I still remember how much fun I had reading the Naughtiest girl series and fancying a lovely boarding school like the one that features in the book and enacting Nancy Drew's mysteries with my friends.


To this day, one of the greatest pleasures of life for me are the hours spent at the library or a bookstore. It feels very much like being among loved ones. To be lost among the shelves without any regard for time is such a luxury. The exhilaration that sweeps over when I find a book that I may like is simply priceless. Even if I I walk out without picking any book, the exercise is so therapeutic. I can perfectly understand all people out there who love window shopping :)



Even though we now live in the world of flipkart, amazon and kindle which have made books a lot more accessible and buying a lot easier, I would still say that the smell of books in a well stocked library and the experience of holding a physical book is unparalleled :)

I am so glad to have been drawn into this priceless world of books. Beyond entertaining the reader, books open up the mind and broaden one's perspective. There is a limitation to the experiences we can get, the places that we can visit and the people we can meet during our lifetime. But books can give you exposure well beyond this physical limitation. I could attend boarding school with Elizabeth, be a part of Jane Austen's bygone era and English society, live in Harry Potter's enchanting magical world and peek into the brahmin housleholds of Vinayk Mudali Steet without having to actually live in those times or visit those places. Apart from this, I strongly believe that reading enables you to understand people around and evaluate situations that you face in life in a much better manner. It shapes your thinking and character and enriches your personality to a great extent.

Books have been my constant friends in life, crossing the hurdles of age groups, place and time. They have changed along with me and evolved in the same pace. And yes, these best friends of mine do sometimes elude me very much like their human counterparts. There are days of frustration when I am unable to lay my hands on the next good read and go groping in the dark, stumbling and falling. But nevertheless, the next gem does come and land in my hands, transporting me to a different world and refreshing my mind, intellect and soul. This is a very special bond that I will treasure for life!

20 comments:

  1. Such a heart felt post. I can see how much you treasure books and cherish the joy that comes from reading; the fact that you remember your childhood books and the sequences so vividly :-)
    Loved reading this, Aarthy!

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    1. Thanks Uma :) I enjoyed recollecting it all and writing about it. I guess we can never forget about the things that have shaped us to a huge extent.

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  2. Wow! I enjoyed reading this and travelling down memory lane with you....I loved books ALWAYS! Like you, I wasn't that great a reader too until standard III when one of my aunts sat me down and started making me read from books on fairy tales everyday.....Books are indeed my best friend :-) :-) I am glad to connect with you over this post!

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    1. So am I Divya :) Looks like we've had very similar journeys. Glad that this post made you reminisce.

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  3. What is a writer...without being a reader.
    I loved how you wrote this. Reflects the passion in its truest form.

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    1. Well said ! Reading and writing go hand in hand.
      Thanks for the comment and welcome to this space!

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  4. Book lovers are my favourite people! :)

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    1. Happy to be among your favorites :) Welcome to this space zeba!

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  5. I remember the day we went to eloor libary early in the morning to grab a copy of harry potter on the first day the book came out .I think we booked a copy much before. Lovely writing aarthy .I enjoyed reading this .

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  6. Picture you ve chosen resembles harry potter

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    1. Because of the glasses maybe ..

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  7. Books take you to a place that you couldn't have imagined. Stories that make you laugh, cry, give flight to your imagination and tell you that a world exists beyond the mundane.

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    1. Very true Purba. And that world is a really nice one to escape into!

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  8. I almost felt like someone was reading this from my mind. I'm a fan of the traditional books too :-) and I can't start with how books have been such a great influence on my life!
    Wonderfully written fellow book-lover :-)

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    1. Thanks Ashwini! Glad to have resonated with your thoughts :)

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  9. I came here reading your comment on Purba's blog which mirrored my feelings too and as it happens this well written post also i connect to.

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    1. Thank you so much Indu! Glad you were able to connect to what I wrote and welcome to this space :)

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  10. Hello,

    such a unique post.. it made me realized how much i miss reading books! especially the new books fresh pages and the smell!! OOOhh! :)

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    1. Thanks Deepika! Welcome here :)

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