I am re-blogging this article from my dear friend Mayur's blog as it is an inspiration for this post. To brief up a little bit, Mayur and I have been childhood friends and thus have a lot of shared or rather overlapped memories of our growing up years. We have been friends for almost 25 years now, that itself speaks volumes about our friendship. One of the common things that we shared is our passion for books. As he mentions we shared our collection with all our friends, we had even started a small circulating library by pooling in books and comics. There was no money involved, to read a book you needed to add a book to the collection and once you finished reading the book, return it, to either collect your contribution or borrow another book to read!!! I remember it was Mayur's yard that we held this library, and by the end of summer all the books were returned, but the variety of stories that we read have stayed a lifetime! It sure was a fun way to spend the sunny afternoons indoors, no complains! Our Mummies were happy too...they didnt have to worry about the kids spending the whole day in the sun, nor did they have to deal with loud children ruining their afternoon peace! The love for books did tame the animals in us... hahaha... u can say that!
Though initially it was just children's comics or story books, the habit of reading was inculcated in us ( my brother, Sandy n me) at a very early age. Our grandmas (I am using plural referring to maternal and paternal, both over the age of 85 years as of now) play a vital role in it, along with our parents, ofcourse! I will take a moment to mention that both my grandmas had taken formal school education, and its noteworthy because in the era that they grew up, girl education was, to put it subtly, frowned upon! So in true sense they made a huge difference in our upbringing, especially because of their education. They used to recite old folk tales they heard from their grandparents and read out stories to us from Marathi children's books. This majorly created an ardent interest in books that held pathways to the wonderful world of imagination. Once we could read on our own...we were the ones telling them of the stories we read about and they listened to us with the zeal of a lil child and pride of a mother!
When we started going to school, we made friends, and thus started the journey of childhood friendships. Getting back to books, initially we read just comics, mostly Chacha Chaudary, Tinkle, Phantom, Disney (Mickey mouse & Donald Duck) and a few children's magazines with short stories viz. Champak, Thuk-Thuk, Gokulam and the likes. I remember the transition from books with lots of pictures to books with no pictures (that was a big deal then!) came very late for me. I was in grade 3 (3rd std or may be 4th...) and we had a couple of library periods every week. It was as good as getting a period off as we didn't really know the idea behind the special allotted library time, we merely picked some fat book and childishly scribbled on various pages to leave our mark for the other class to find, really juvenile I must say! Then one day, I picked up a book meant for the lower class, it was Enid Blyton's 'Daddy tell me a story' and instead of using the pencil, I sat in one corner of the room and read the compilation of the short stories. I was intrigued by the various characters the author had weaved into her interesting tales. The week after that I looked forward to our library time and decided to hunt more books from those series. I couldn't find any, so I asked the librarian and she pointed me to a cupboard full of wonderfulness! I believe the next book I read was The Wishing Chair, by Enid Blyton ofcourse! I stuck to her books coz I was too young to understand the concept of preface reading to find an interesting book. Plus her books have never disappointed me....! I went on to become a big fan of her Famous Fives, Malory Towers, Barney mysteries (esp. The Rubadub mystery...I still remember it, though I never owned the book).
I was introduced to whole new world of reading "books". The first book that I ever owned was Five on Treasure Island, from the famous five series. I will gift it to my son once he starts his own journey with books! After reading of the adventures the children have in all of her books, my friends and I dreamt of having some of our own, we used to signal each other in code from our windows using a bedside torch, plan of going to new exciting places, studying in a boarding school like the ones in Malory towers....her books infused such powerful imagination that we lived all the adventures through her words! As years went by, Nancy drew, hardy boys, 3 Investigators (by Alfred Hitchcock, introduced to me by my brother) were included in my reading list. One day, my friend Anisha received a set of books from her relatives from US about a lil boy called Harry. She was gripped (read the story behind her first book here
), and she told me glimpses of it, I was hooked too, I borrowed those books and it was amazing...could hardly keep the book down. And that's how I decided to own the Harry Potter series one day, today I have the whole set...again waiting to be handed to my son when he is ready...maybe I will read it a couple of times more, or could read it out to him, even better!
I owe my first pay to these books... (ahem ahem... everyone does actually... isn't it?? ) but what I mean to say is that, Amar Chitra Katha publications once held a one week exhibition cum sale sorts library in our school one year. Since I stayed very close to my school, I used to go everyday to read the books in their collection. The lady incharge saw me come in everyday, and on the 4th day asked me if I would like to help her with keeping track of the books people bought and borrowed for reading... the usual library stuff! She offered me Rs 75 and a book of my choice to take with me if I accepted, which i did!!! On the last day, as promised, she handed me my first hard-earned
money (yeah, it was hard...to keep track of who was reading what when you were surrounded by so many books to read yourself!!!) As for the book, I choose a Tinkle Digest, which needless to say, my lil one will own once he is older.
Richard Bach, Paulo coelho, Dan Brown, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Cecelia Ahern, Nora Roberts, Bill Watterson (I absolutely love Calvin and Hobbes
) soon became my A-List authors, but my favourite still remains Enid Blyton, I can still read any of her books with as much zeal and fascination as there could be!
As Mayur rightly said, its a Treasure Chest....with funtime to last a Lifetime!