My first love :)
Nah! This is not going to be a romantic tale of a boy and a girl 😛
Books. That’s what this tale is all about.
Ever since I can remember I have always been surrounded by books.
Grandparents who loved the written word. Who were writers themselves. Albeit in their spare time. But oh the words that they shared!
Books that have been handed down to me though I barely understand a few of them. Urdu was the first love of one grandfather, English the love of another. And Hindi was their mutual love. My grandmothers loved to see their children read books. Though they loved books too.
There are many scenes of childhood etched in my mind.One where both of my grandmothers are sitting with their husbands listening to the quiet stories. Their husbands who wanted to share all the words with them.
And then my parents who are and have always been ardent lovers of the written word and for that matter even the spoken ones.
They are in love with words. Period.
And they have passed on this love to their children too.
Its hard to describe this love.
I have been in love with books for what seems like eternity. So have been my brothers. The musty smell of old yellow journals, the fresh newsprint smell, the smell of a library….all these smells have been a favourite in our home.
Going for vacations to both sides of the family and spending hours and hours in the old attics. The attics have been torn down now to make space for new ones in their place.
Children don’t read to find their identity, to free themselves from guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology…. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff…. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don’t expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish illusions. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
Yes, this is exactly why we all read didn’t we? We read not to escape this world but to create a world , a magical one, that was our very own.
Sure we all boast of some high sounding names now that we are all grown up. Names that truly deserve all the accolades and then names that make you wonder as to why they ever became famous 😀
But our fondest memories are of authors who wrote simply and beautifully. Who simply wrote for children. They wrote with a joy that shone through the pages. These authors knew exactly how a child’s mind worked. Actually they were children themselves. If not in age, then in spirit ..
I cannot forget Chandamama, Nandan, Champak, Tinkle, Chacha Chaudhary , Mandrake, Phantom, Enid Blyton,Baba Yaga, James Herriot…..( Do add more 😀 )
The grammar was atrocious at times. The pictures were gaudy ..but who cared anyway?
What a beautiful magical world it was!
Someone please make a time machine so I can go back to being a part of that magical world of Enid Blyton again. Of muffins and high teas, and George and Timmy, and the naughtiest girl and Circus Days.
I know I have said this before in another post. But let me say it again.
I envy all of you who live in her country. The country of rains that never seem to stop and beaches that always have cottages. And mysteries that are around every corner. And parents who work for top secret missions 😀
Yes, You might tell me that it is all very different in real life. But let me have my illusions 🙂 For, I will see it for myself one day. I will search for those lanes where Mr Goon chased the kids. And the cottage where the five cousins spent their time solving mysteries. And the school where the Naughtiest girl troubled everyone and discovered herself too. I have spent countless childhood hours writing letters to the boarding schools mentioned in Enid Blyton’s books 😀
And I really believed that they would take me too 😉
A library has always looked like the most welcoming place to me. Even if there is not a single soul in the library, the books seem to speak all by themselves. As if they are welcoming you into their world. Tempting you. Beguiling you.
Some books charm from the very first moment. They snuggle in a corner of your heart and stay there forever. Long after you have grown old , you still remember titles like Mr Galliano’s Circus, The naughtiest Girl in School, The Wishing Tree, Sabun Paani Zindabad yes there was such a title 😀 , Supandi, Characters from the Panchtantra, Mowgli, ……
Why just books?Anything that is written is a source of wonder. A newspaper, a blog, anything..one is constantly amazed at the world of ideas that exists out there.
The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilization grow old and die out; new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on. Still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts, of the hearts of men centuries dead.
– Clarence Day
I remember reading this quote at a CBT stall at the Delhi Book fair many years ago. I must have been around 11 or 12. I had no idea who had written these lines. All I knew was that the lines spoke to me. They expressed best what I, at that age had been unable to. So I promptly begged for a pen and paper from dad who was looking on amused, and started scribbling on the paper. I didn’t want to miss or forget a single word. The CBT people looked on amused at the little girl who was busy writing something down from one of their posters furiously. They were quite happy to see that little kids were so interested in reading. They promptly called me over and gave me a huge calendar . All glossy and shiny. Imagine my joy! 😀
I was ecstatic. A CBT calendar of my own? From the people who published all those gorgeous colourful books that I read? Heaven! Sheer heaven!
I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now — only that place where the books are kept.
– John Steinbeck
And so it has been for me. Moving across India through so many places, having changed more houses than I can count, all I can remember are the book shelves. They were and still are the only constant in my life. My home.
A new place, a new school, new friends….but my best friends remained the same as ever. Books.
I have always been grateful to people who have introduced me to new authors, new ideas, new books. Each author for a different stage in life.I discovered Kahlil Gibran, Harishankar Parsai, Muktibodh,Faiz, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou and so many others in college. And I still cant stop thanking the friends who introduced me to these different worlds.
But most of all I will forever be thankful to ma and dad and to the countless teachers I have ever come across and the many librarians who understood how precious each written word was to a child. The way all the adults in my life encouraged me in my love for the written word.
I am under no illusion that I can understand ‘heavy’ books or make complete sense of them.I am no Shakespeare either. I write in cliches and sometimes just plain nonsense. But I do know that were it not for books, my world would have been an undeniably boring place. Less exciting. Less sure. More monotonous. More drab. More stifling. For, when I feel absolutely suffocated I simply pick up a book and escape into an imaginary world of my very own.
A world without books?
”A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with “a sort of greedy enjoyment,” as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was “saturated with the bouquet of silence.” ~Holbrook Jackson
Nothing can replace books. Nothing should. Have you discovered this magical world yet?
PS:- Do read what another avid book lover thinks.