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For the love of reading

April 26, 2016

To be able to give your children the gift of language is something indescribable. To be able to read, write and understand.
Understand all the hidden meanings that those tiny little letters contain is a wonder in itself.

The guttural sounds, the words that roll off the tongue so effortlessly, words which you can still taste on your tongue.

To be able to make them understand that language if used properly  in just the right amount and manner is magic in itself.

That words can heal.

And wound.

That too.

That language can build esteem and confidence and make you conquer a world. Or many worlds.
And that, that very same language can undermine. And how.

Language if used right, can deliver you from your fears.
That is, if you have had language magicians guiding you every step of the way on your first journey.

The very same language will make you a jumbled mass of emotions that crash into each other like waves.

It will give you solace when all else seems bleak.

And hunt you down just when you think you have found a quiet corner in the house all to yourself.

 

Language will not leave your conscience alone.  Remember that.  And tread carefully.
It will be your most amazing gift to your child. Precious beyond measure. Passed down from one generation to the next.

 

For, in one masterstroke you have just insured your child against a world that will knock him down. And knock him down hard.
For me, those magicians have been my grandparents and my parents.
The language teachers and the librarians whose names I can still remember.

I didn’t know it then but I was entering a sacred world. One where to pretend to know everything was sacrilege because everyone was on a journey.
And the journey did not have a destination.
To want to know the hows and whys was to feel deeply. And to feel deeply was to be open to heartache and sadness.

But always, there was a hand that reached out. To offer solace.
A book read under a quilt with a flashlight. Noone else seemed to exist in the world right there in that moment.
Do you remember that moment? Hidden away in the recesses of your mind? A childhood moment stolen from time?
The one that still makes you smile when you think of how desperately you wanted to read that book. That very book. That very night. Way past your bedtime ?:)

That exact moment you see, is what I want to gift a soon- to- be – 1year old little boy.

He already loves his books. The birdies and the animals. All the duckies in a row and the jungle animals and what not. He turns each page slowly, looking up in anticipation. That I will say something . That I will make a silly sound or give a name to that picture he is looking at.

He has so many expectations from me. So many hopes in those young eyes.

I am sitting in mom and dad’s home. My first home. And my forever one. As I sit here late at night surrounded by hundreds of books. Books I have collected all these years. From book fairs,  flea markets,  hole in the wall bookshops.

 

And the most revered ones of all.

The ones passed down like holy grail.  They belonged to my grandparents and parents .

Books whose names I know by heart . Their pages read and read again till I know them like my own reflection. These books painstakingly taken care of by maa and dad.
They are fiercely protective of these books. For, they know that their daughter’s heart resides in them.

As I look at the books and think of the amazing  gift my parents and grandparents have given me,  I cannot help but make a desperate wish. A wish that I will do the  same for my son.
I look at his sleeping face
Such innocence. He sleeps oblivious to the world outside and the dangers that lurk.
And terrified suddenly by my own fears, I want to give him a magic potion.

One that will make him strong. Strong enough to be able to withstand the storms that will come. And come they surely will.
For what else is it to be a human being?

I want to gift him that courage of conviction that will make  him hold on and stay true to his beliefs in a world that will falsely make him believe otherwise.

 

 

 I want to gift him that moment under the quilt. 

A book in those tiny hands, a flashlight and magic.

 

 

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2016 6:37 am

    “I want to gift him that moment under the quilt.

    A book in those tiny hands, a flashlight and magic.”

    You’re holding it. Him. And he’s on his journey too, alongside you 🙂
    Sigh. Such a deep deep pleasure and resonance, reading this, Meggie!
    Hugs! And much love always! Too you and the little one!

    • May 3, 2016 12:09 am

      Somehow nothing’s complete till you shower your love and call me meggie:))
      Thank you darling ushus ❤

  2. April 26, 2016 9:02 am

    Agree completely, reading is the best gift ever. And your little one is so lucky to be born around now – we have such amazing books for his age being published, Indian in look, feel and content.

    Do check out books by Katha, Tulika and Tara. And happy birthday to him!

    • May 3, 2016 12:12 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 Yes, there is such a variety of books. I have brought a few from tulika. They are really cute, colourful and engaging. First time I am hearing about tara though. Will def check them out.
      Do we have board books in hindi in India or even board books in english in an indian context? Because I searched quite a lot and couldn’t find any.

  3. April 26, 2016 10:04 am

    Good luck with that 😀

  4. April 26, 2016 10:28 am

    Amen to that!

  5. April 26, 2016 10:48 am

    Beautifully expressed post, Abhi! A book under the quilt with a torch to read! My son used to do that a lot!

    Your parents and grand parents are lucky to have you to acknowledge them. Most of the children take everything for granted. My mother used to read all the time and made us to read. She was 72 when she left and till then she was reading in the afternoons…it became difficult to read at night. The habit has come to us children.

    Atharv will be a bookworm one day…I know he will be showered with books all the time. Though I was reading from Tamil books also for my children, they know Hindi, but it is only English now. I am not very happy about it. I wanted them to read Tamil also. It is a rich language. Now, it is too late. I should have handled them better.

    I went back reading your post now! Good luck to you both…

    Felt happy to read you after a long gap….keep writing Indyeah! I missed writing this name!

    • May 3, 2016 12:27 am

      Aww thank you for the love Sandhya. I missed being called Indyeah too! :))
      Reading usually ifnot always is a habit one learns by example. From a parent or grandparent to a child.
      Since your mom loved it how could you no? And the same goes for your children:)
      As far as sidelining a rich language like tamil goes , tell me about it. I had started forgetting major words of hindi. Everyday words! And not like some nose – up- in the air – i – don’t- like hindi gal but assomeone who had stopped reading hindi books. And not deliberately. Because english speakers and English books were all around me. And i Couldn’t say the same for hindi. People usually used very pedestrian sort of hindi, the ones i knew that is.

      And hindi books were not available at any bookstore. All they had was cheap two bit trashy novels. With weird titles and weirder covers.

      So one day about 8years back, i landed up at the delhi book fair and haunted the sahitya akademi stall and others of th e same kind. Oh! I found such gems! I cannot even begin to describe it. Since then whenever i feel the need to connect with my hindi roots or if i feel i am floating too far ahead, i wait for the book fair:)

  6. April 26, 2016 1:56 pm

    I want to gift him that moment under the quilt.

    A book in those tiny hands, a flashlight and magic. – Amen to your wishes…a son of yours will certain be gifted, through his genes ❤

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