I call it my punar janam aka re-birth the day I was introduced to the beautiful world of books. I don’t know what heaven looks like but this world is truly my paradise. The smell of fresh new pages of a book and the sound it makes when I flip through it is the most exciting thing to do. And there will be never an end to it. Thanks a million to the brilliant authors who come to my rescue whenever I need them. They drop surprises and keep me engaged till the last read of their novels. They take me to an altogether different world from Earth, a place where I can let my imagination fly with each line and build my own judgements and likes.
I was in 8th std when my tuition teacher presented a novel titled On Noah’s Ark by Jan Brett. I took the book obediently not knowing that my world is about to change. And then I started reading and couldn’t keep the book down. With the turn of each page, my curiosity increased ten-fold. It was with a slight regret that I returned the novel back to my teacher. I wanted it to be with me forever. The pang in my heart must have shown in my face because the next moment my father asked me why I looked so unhappy. I told him the reason. Later in the evening, while going down the beach, my father halted the car opposite a city library. I had never stepped my foot inside it before and didn’t know what was inside. He quickly held my hand and we walked towards it. As I entered, my joy knew no bounds. Wherever I looked, at each and every corner, there were only books! Books of every imaginable cover illustrations and different colours. I was astonished at the volumes of pages lying just a few feet away ready to be taken and read instantly. And there was a sale of popular books where most of the crowd was seen. After 20 minutes, as I got out of the library, I had my very own copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. As I held the book, the cover page of the famous novel by J.K.Rowling, gleamed red under the sparkling sun with Harry Potter standing at platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
I bought the third part of the series and used to read till the middle of night. I was so hell bent on knowing what’s going to happen next, that I wouldn’t keep the book down. That experience stopped when my mother scolded me after noticing that my eyes had started watering lately. After two months of this incident, I got my first brand new specks! Mean while I got to know more advantages of books. As my family used to travel a lot which mainly included visiting grandparents in Uttar Pradesh and going to Shirdhi in Maharashtra, I had my novels as my best buddies with me all the time. They never left me. I kept them with me while eating, sitting and sleeping. I had them with me no matter where I was, whether I was sleeping in a train or staring out of a moving bus. When I had my 12th std board exams closer, I was busy finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It took me a while to finish it considering the amount of pages it contained (and don’t worry, I passed my 12th board exams with decent marks).
Next was the mania of Lord of the Rings series. My graduation days were superb. As I was a day’s scholar, I used to read about Frodo Baggins and Sam mandatorily in my college bus everyday in the morning for an hour. My classmates bunked classes for celebrating some friend’s birthday or watching movies on Friday. I bunked classes for finishing Twilight. In that series, I least loved the second part-New Moon. How can Edward dare to leave Bella like that and go away for her own good? That was rubbish! I wanted to throw that book on Edward Cullen’s face in reality. When Breaking Dawn released, I had a semester exam going on in my final year. I had bought the book and used to make deals with myself while studying. I used to finish 4 topics of the syllabus and then read 10 pages of the novel and vice-versa. Finally one day, one of my relatives cracked. She was with me in the market when I was buying Pride and Prejudice and she couldn’t help it any longer and burst out.
“Why are you purchasing it? Is it in your engineering syllabus?” she asked bluntly.
“No”, I replied and stretched my hand to pay the money to the seller.
“Then why are you wasting your time and money over all these?” she asked, trying to fathom the mystery behind this madness.
“I like reading them”, I said.
“And what good is it going to do? After you read them, it becomes useless. Then what would you do?” she kept on her ranting.
But I couldn’t concentrate further. The moment she had said ‘useless’, I forgot all my manners and patience. How dare she say like that about my books? My books? It seemed as if somebody had practically slapped me. I felt so insulted.
“I collect them so that my kids can read them in future and then my grandkids”, I said coolly.
“And that too free of cost! Wouldn’t that be great for them? ”, I added.
That shocked her. Her eyes became round with astonishment at my words.
As I finished graduating with 78% in B.Tech, I was proud of something else-my personal library. By then I had a huge collection of novels by well-known authors and my favourite writers. My favourite novels so far are by Enid Blyton (Famous Five and Secret Seven series), J.K.Rowling (Harry Potter series), Vir Sanghvi(Rude Food), Stephenie Meyer (Twilight series), Jane Austen (Mansfield Park), Chetan Bhagat (Five Point Someone, 3 mistakes of my life, Revolution 2020, What young India wants), Amish Tripathi (Shiva trilogy), Shobhaa De (Speedpost and Shobhaa at Sixty), Ashok Banker (The Iron Bra and Ten Dead Admen), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), Jacquelin Singh (Uncle’s concubine), A.P.J.Abdul Kalam (Wings Of Fire), Dilip Prabhavalkar (Bokya Satbande series), R.K.Narayan (Malgudi Days and The Guide), Yann Martel (Life of Pi), J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the rings) and Nicholas Sparks (A walk to remember, Nights in Rodanthe, The Last Song and The Notebook). And the list keeps increasing every month as soon as a promising writer ventures out in the market. Nothing in the universe can compare the peace and happiness a fresh story can provide. God is really great. He always listens to prayers of readers and grants their wishes in the form of excellent writers of the century. Bless them! Without them, life would have been so boring! But right now it’s a wonderful place to live in because there is always a novel waiting beside me to be picked up. Cheers to life!!