What are your first memories with a book? Is it the first picture, the first words that still rings a word? Or is it just that scent? The scent of a fresh book as you inhaled in the pages?
Yes I know it’s random writing out of the blue isn’t it?
I have been sharing my travelogue no matter how tiny or big they were. And this blog is also about random things, about the seemingly ordinary things that we miss out in our daily lives.
So what is the first memory ? That memory that you truly cherish with a book or magazine?
My first memory was sitting on my Daddy’s lap and him showing me the pictures in a book – Must have been Tinkle or Indrajal Comics -Phantom or Amar Chitra Katha.
I vaguely remember it now with that voice, Beti, what are they doing and me peering into it and that’s where it all started.
Every reward for me was a book gifted by my parents. Time out meant that when I was getting too naughty or was not listening, I had to sit with a book I absolutely hated in my room and my mummy monitoring me. Slowly even that punishment looked like a reward.
Then came Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Hardy boys, Nancy Drew, Tintin & Asterix comics that sucked me into the adventures of the above.
I would be waiting to get my hands on my Daddy’s bookshelf that he took care of it so preciously. I remember if any book fair in the city was announced in the newspaper, we would rush there. Holding his hand I would look in awe at the books on display.
As I recollect ,my parents never pressured me to be first or second or score a top rank in school or college. I always felt that’s how it was with the others until I realized much later how lucky I was. No tutorials, no after school classes nothing. If I was punished it meant not buying new books.
When I graduated towards Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Emily Bronte, Wodehouse Agatha Christie at 12 and by 13 reading Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Mario Puzo it alarmed everyone except my parents. She is a young girl, she should not be reading such books! What are you putting in her head?
And that love of reading only grew over the years. When I couldn’t afford my favorite authors books I would have friends sharing it with me. Then later I would have my loved one sharing his love of books with me and opening another world, another genre, another set of authors whom I never heard of..
And I can tell you this with a lot of conviction and I recollect this from the book ‘The Namesake’ and one of the passages says “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
It was books that inculcated a love for travel. I read about places, people, cultures and food.
Through books, one sees a plethora of ideas, an imagination that is limitless, a fantasy that can be fulfilled in your mind, you become one of those characters.
You get transported to an era, a time, a place, a character at your will and wish, you can do this time travel in your head, you fulfill the most mundane to the deep dark desires you have but can never reveal to anyone. It’s only something you own, you clutch it dearly, it’s a part of you always.
Today when Reading is being slowly replaced by ‘reading on the net’ from laptops to smartphones, one laments , really laments at the state of affairs today.. And am not talking about the present generation only, it’s for all and sundry..
When has Wealth replaced Learning and Reading? When has Cars, real estates, buildings gadgets replaced book shelves and libraries? Where are those grandmothers, fathers and mothers who sat with their young ones and were the first story tellers?
Remember that look in your eyes when you were young and listened to it all ?
Those fables, mythological stories, legends you listened with wide eyed wonder? Those bed time stories before you slept? Those horror stories, mysteries you heard and shared with your friends as you huddled together while narrating it?
Was Hanuman so strong he could carry an entire mountain? Did Phantom really exist? What was Shakespeare thinking when writing Hamlet? Was Jesus really born in Bethlehem in that stable with the 3 kings guided by that star?
How can Suppandi be so stupid? How does Kalia the crow outwit Chamataka the jackal every time? Why was Ashoka called as the greatest emperor? Why are plants so green? Questions Questions and more Questions.
And as one grew up, the questions increased, sometimes with answers that satisfied you, some answers just left in the dark and sometimes so ridiculous you refused to believe that was the answer.
And what happens when you keep seeking? You learn more, you also unlearn what you learnt all these years, at loggerheads with yourself and with others, going deeper you question the existence of it all and that’s what books do, open up this beautiful Pandora Box.
They come along with you on this ride of life as you traverse through, without your knowledge they seep into your thoughts, your opinions, they become a part of your personality and what you express becomes a part of someone else’s thoughts as they continue their own journey..
And that’s what books do my dear friend, without you knowing it you already have a best friend by your side, a soulmate. You are never alone, ever.
One of the tiny yet significant contributions that one can do is encourage family, friends, acquaintances, children, teenagers,anyone into that beautiful world of books.
Gift it, exchange it, slip it into their laptop bags, on their desks ,when they sit with that cup of coffee,when they want to slow down or when they check their phones for the ‘latest updates’.
Tell them anything is possible in that world, that their imagination has no limits and to share and pass on that love to others..
For I believe the best love one can have is the Love of Reading …