Saturday, September 19, 2009


I love reading. I've never wondered why. But as with all other things, I vividly remember the beginnings of my oldest and favorite hobby.
My dad's brother used to be an avid reader. When I was 5 and he was in high school, I tried to tear open the crisp newspaper with which he had carefully wrapped the James Hadley Chase novel he was reading. He seemed to have prepared wisely to avert the scandal that would erupt if someone at home saw the buxom babe in fishnet stockings and nothing but a rifle to cover her chest. And I, with my curiosity and loud mouth, almost ruined it. He decided it was time I read literature more suited to my own age. And that is how I got my first library membership. I still remember handing over a deposit of Rs.25 to the library owner and getting a bright yellow card with my name and address on it in return. My very own library card!
My initial days of reading were filled with Enid Blyton. I had a club of my own, just like Secret Seven- replete with cookies and pitchers of orange juice, with the kids in the neighborhood. I even had a bonfire in our garden, which my mom put out before we could burn down the house (far fetched I know, but I must admit it made me feel all powerful). Then I discovered Fairy Tales and Arabian Nights. For months I longed for a gingerbread house or a lamp I could rub on the eve of my exams. I slept dreaming of princesses and dwarfs and mermaids and witches. I sat at the back of my Carnatic music class and read Archie comics for the entire hour, which explains why I am only a bathroom singer. I spent many a night snickering at the exploits of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I blushed everytime Ned Nickerson kissed Nancy Drew and I read most of Sherlock Holmes on school nights with a flashlight under my blanket. I remember the name of every single Sidney Sheldon heroine. I've had my knuckles go white from gripping a Jeffery Archer novel too tight, unable to bear the suspense any longer. I spent most of my pocket money and every penny I ever got in gifts to buy books. I still read Wodehouse and the Classics. When I entered college my reading took a quantum leap. Maugham, Salinger, Rand, Shaw, Hesse, Eggers, Tolkein, Adams, Nabakov, Steinbeck, Stone, Irving, Pamuk, Joyce, Seth, a neverending list of writers entered my life to delight me. Some left in a hurry, some faded to the background, some endured.
I sometimes wonder if I would have been a different person if I didn't have an obsession over reading. I think so. Books ensured I never missed having a sibling. I am never bored. I am never short of a way to spend my money and my friends are never at a loss for gift ideas for me. Books have made me the restless insomniac that I am. I can, and would even prefer to, learn practically anything from a good book. I connect instantly with people who read. My mother would have liked me a little better if I didn't read ( read: completely ignore her whenever I did). If I didn't read I might be more willingly social. I might have no opinions. I might be less of an idealist. I may not be able to write.*Shudder*
PS: Thanks to Gradwolf for triggering this train of thought and bringing back countless fond memories!