I love reading books. Books take me to a different world. A world of possibilities, a world of stories, a world that helps me understand the present day world. But, with today’s easy access to internet and a lot of articles, write ups, and even e books, I feel I somehow miss the feel of a book in my hands, miss their particular scent and miss the thrill of flipping the pages and reluctantly putting a book mark when other errands need to be paid attention to.
I remember when I first started reading novels. My first novel was a class 5 holiday homework from our class teacher, Mrs Johri. The novel’s name was Black Beauty. The second novel, another holiday homework, was Huckelberry Finn.
It then became an addiction, this urge to read, to explore books, to make books my friends. My life long affair with the books started with The Famous Five and Secret Seven by Enid Blyton till about standard 7, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys till about class 11 and then I hooked on to the very intellectually handsome, Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie.
After that, came a phase where I drowned myself into anything and everything readable. It was probably a time when I was discovering myself. My taste, my inclination, my personality, my identity, my life choices, in hindsight, depend a lot on that stage. Till the time I was in school, I never enjoyed history. The moment I left school, I loved anything related to history. I have an insatiable thirst for knowing history and knowing the origins of different religions across the world. Give me a combination of these two and I would be the happiest hermit lost in a world that knows no boundaries, which explains my existence and makes me a better person with every meaning that I absorb.
This love of books, in retrospect, came to me through my very early childhood memories and then grew on to me.
The time when I didn’t even know how to read or write or even know what books were, I remember my mother and sometimes my father reading bedtime stories to me. I remember a particular one, a book that was a hard cover one, probably in pink color. It had stories with beautiful pictures, glossy pages and when my parents read them out to me, magic happened.
I had some favorites in the book and every day before bedtime, I would get dressed in my night clothes and flip the pages to reach to the one I wanted to hear that day and drifted off to sleep, in a world where everything was possible. That was a world where everything turned good in the end, the evil never won and even the trees smiled.
As we grow up, we start calling those stories “fiction” and move away from them, detaching ourselves from them and later on probably laughing on our choices as kids. To me, the stories we are read to in our childhood prepare us to be good people, give a vague impression of how an ideal world should be and nudge us gently towards goodness.
Today, it’s been a while since I read a book, actually holding it. While watching a movie where a mother is reading out a story to her daughter, I had some flash back and remembered how my own mother gave so much time to me and narrated those stories to me. She is an excellent story teller. I laughed when she laughed, my eyes widened when she narrated something thrilling and I cried when something sad happened.
That time, those memories, are not forgotten. Each parent teaches their children a lot of good things through different means. One of the ways I was taught a lot was the bed time stories.
It is a promise I make today to remember and value the time that was given to me, it is a promise to try and do something in my lifetime to make others smile exactly how I smiled when someone did something good in one of the stories, it is a promise to try and not lose the innocence the world of the fairy tales held and it is a promise to not forget the feel and smell of a real book.
There might be a Kindle in the world, there might be e-books but, magic for me, somehow happens only when a book is held and felt. There is, and always would be, something magnificent about the smell of a book.