For every person the journey with books begins right from the kindergarten days and it continues forever because be it ant stage we do not stop reading. It might be a bit or piece of news too at the age of 85. I have seen my grandpa do that. He loved reading, be it a novel, a book of a 2nd standard kid, about income tax or spiritual books (barring all language restrains). He has been a great inspiration for me and even my mom got this habit from him.
My mom used to tell me in my school days, “Keep reading. It is the best habit one can inculcate.” It was of course something which she wanted me to do apart from my course books. I
n my school days when I used to come home after school, my mom used to forcefully put me to sleep in the afternoon.
I used to always crib saying, “Not feeling sleepy ma.” On hearing this she would say, “Get some book and read. You will get sleep in not more than five minutes.”
As an obedient daughter I followed suit. Slowly this became my regular habit and everyday it took me more time to sleep as I had started reading more and more.
I was introduced to small comics first like- Champak, Tin-Tin, Tinkle, Panchatantra, Jataka Tales, Noddy, Chacha Choudhary and Sabu. It was a mixture of Hindi as well as in English.
I used to borrow books from my school library as well and my level rose a bit as I had started reading short stories. This went on till the third standard. Those days we were not in a level to read the books which a kid of 3rd standard would read today. The progress was slow. This was my best pastime. I also started writing my diary from this time. I collected articles, jokes, pictures of Donald Duck and Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Chip-n Dale, Tweety and what not. Everything that seemed colorful went into my diary.
I was still a bit behind as my friends had already begun with some novels for kids. Then I got introduced to Enid Blyton my all time favourite. She is one such writer, who reaches across the kids. It was the correct age that time to start with her series. The language was simple, matter was imaginative. As used to read her stories, I started imagining what all was written there. It went on like a movie. I liked her series of Adventure, Fairy tales and so many short stories. I can say in standard 5 and 6 I did not read anything except her books. This also continued for a while till 7th but I did not feel like getting those books in front of my friends, as I was worried about my reputation. It was high time I stopped that read something of my level. I had one thing in mind that I will complete her series as soon as possible and I did it. I used to borrow 2 books at a time. I used to burn my midnight oil and read and read. I started following the teenage trend of Sweet Valley. It was good but somewhere I did not enjoy much. Still, I read. I had become a slow reader after this as I did not find much interest in all that. My geography book looked more attractive to me than Sweet Valley. I was more into maps and those rivers and desserts. Again, it was COLOUR, which attracted me more. I loved my Geography teacher (Mrs. Pratibha Doshi) and she taught me geography till the time I had to study that.
It was the 8th standard. I had to study more and more of books as in ICSE and ISC the level of Language (Hindi and English) is too high. If one has to score well in the board exams this had to be the right time to start. Every now and then it was drilled into our heads that we had to perform well as our percentage would soar up if our language was strong. Our marking system included languages compulsorily. We were not given marks at all. The more I tried, my essays used to got that bad and boring with loads of mistakes. Well, it was pretty normal at that stage as it was my learning period.
I decided that I had to do something different. The trend in school was Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I liked Nancy Drew. It has mysteries and the series were quite good. Apart from these I started reading the short stories by, O’ Henry, Rabindranath Tagore, R. K Narayanan (Malgudi Days) and more. We had some short stories in our course book so the interest started developing automatically. Even I liked reading the short stories by Munshi Premchand Ji, Mahadevi Verma, and Jayshankar Prasad. The level went quite high. There were 20 short stories in Hindi and 18 poems and 5 plays for board and the same was with English. We got to study ‘Julius Caesar’ in the 9th and 10th standard. We started reading poems of William Wordsworth and Keats. It was mugging up as well as understanding but I did not realize then that I liked all that. I cleared my board exams well and my languages were on top. I got what I wanted.
During this course I had of course wonderful teachers in school and also there was a sir called, Mr. Vellapani who mad me fly on the wings of my imagination. He let me open my vision. I continued writing and now I had attained a level that my articles started being published in magazines like ‘Gokulam’ and my school magazine itself. I did not restrict myself. I also wrote essays in Hindi as well as in English. This was a turning point in my life.