I got more to read at this stage. I started reading Agatha Christie’s novels and also tried a hand at P.G. Woodhouse ( I had to sit with the dictionary for this). Agatha Christie, just like Enid Blyton became a part of my daily life then. I started thinking like her and then the medical mysteries which she used to mention in her books took my interest towards biology. That was my field. I had decided and today I am very happy for what I have chosen. In the 11th and 12th we had to study Shakespeare again. We had ‘The Tempest’ and along with that again a series of 15 short stories and 20 poems. We had writers like, Anton Chekhov, Isaac Asimov, Guy de Maupassant, Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), and Ruskin Bond, Alfred Tennyson, W. B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath and some more.
I did not have Hindi then but I used to follow it from my friends. They had to study, ‘Nirmala’ by Premchand ji. I continued reading novels but there wasn’t much time. I had to give time to my course books more at this stage. I kept writing as a result I had also 20 pen-pals. I got remuneration ranging from 20 to 50 rupees. It was something that boosted my morale. I was a normal writer - NONE TOO EXTRAORDINARY. There were people who wrote better than me. I used to bother about it a lot as I never made it to the first position in any of the ‘Creative Writing’ competitions. This still continues because no matter how much I write or whatever I do to change my style I never have a luck to earn a prize for myself. I get dejected at times but slowly started coming out of it. I realized that I was writing for myself and no body else. No matter whatever I write I had my own style which was something very ordinary but I got the biggest prize for what I was doing. The BIGGEST AWARD I got was the appreciation from my friends, my parents and my readers. This is what that continues till date. It is my biggest encouragement. After my 12th board exams I started reading books by Arundhati Roy( God Of Small Things), Vikram Seth( A Suitable Boy) and I wrote my first English story in the train. Then I came to VIT and explored something new from my side. I started writing poems and also kept writing in Hindi too. My friends were very supportive. I got a platform like the, ‘Splash’ magazine of my college and then I wrote more and read more. I got many people who could get me many novels and there were many avid readers in my group. I came to know what the Youth of Today read.
It was taste of Dan Brown, Daniel Steel, Jeffrey Archer, Margaret Mitchell, Robin Cook, Vikram Seth, Chetan Bhagat, Robin Sharma, Paulo Coelho and more. There is so much more that is left. I haven’t read many which I would like to but because I am a slow reader. It takes time for me to read and I am not a person to stick to books always. I need my own time to finish my book.
Hindi novels became my interest as I read ‘Gaban’ and ‘Seva- Sadan’ by Premchand ji. There were more and I also liked the magazine called, ‘Meri Saheli’ and ‘Sarita’ which my mom reads often. I wrote my first Hindi story, Naina in college. It was my love. ‘Naina’ gave me what I had not fathomed. It is not a prize that I am talking about but I got something which cannot be valued. It is the most precious gift from God. I started writing in Hindi as well as in English continuously from then. The passion continues and I still have lots more to read. Each new thing I read, I get inspiration and if this continues I will also be able to finish my book soon.
After giving her piece of advice in the 2nd standard, my mom did not have to speak a word after that. She left me to dive into the ocean of books and I learnt to swim as years passed. This is a never ending journey and will continue till I breathe last. Till today my mom gives this advice to those little kids who need to be guided at the right time.