Love at first sight? Maybe not, but definitely a partner for a lifetime.

This is just how I would describe my fascination for reading. I believe that reading is a journey. We begin from alphabets, then move on to captivating illustrations, before making some imperfect sentences from our limited vocabulary. Then comes a stage when bedtime stories from the Panchatantra and the adventures of Tenali Rama become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Soon we find ourselves grappling with an Oxford dictionary and a Wren and Martin. Thereafter begins the tricky phase of our lives, when some of us take to reading newspapers, while others seek to drown out the noises in our mundane lives in the solace of novels, biographies and autobiographies.

Of course, the trajectory does not need to be the same for everyone. That said, the one common thing among all readers is that, looking back, they realize the millions of words they have traversed during this lifelong journey. Hi, I am Aniket and today, I would like to share the story of my journey with you.

Let’s start at the very beginning. Every parent wants their children to read and write as much as they can. However, it is a fairly boring task for most children, and I was no exception to this golden rule. They say where there is a will there is a way, but how can someone find the way if they have no will? That could not have been truer in my case.

By the time I was in ninth grade, I was taking tuition for English and mathematics. As most adolescents would gleefully attest, one often looks forward to such classes for reasons other than brushing up on their conceptual knowledge. For me, tuition meant a bunch of freak guys checking their female classmates out. Seldom did we pay any attention to the lesson in hand.

Now, we had to take a mathematics test every Friday, and an English test every Saturday. The results were often declared the same day. Even though it was just an ordinary tuition class, the competition between the girls and the boys to outdo each other was intense. This rivalry kept getting fiercer every week. Back then, I was unparalleled in my command of algebra and geometry. As a result, every Friday would see me come out on top. That was, of course, a matter of great pride, as it got me noticed by my female competitors.

Come Saturday the tables, however, would completely turn on us. The girls clearly had the upper hand when it came to English. Their reporting, dialog writing, reading skills, story telling and vocabulary easily excelled ours. Week after week, our hard-earned bragging rights were left in the dust. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Evidently, we needed to work on our vocabulary before anything else.

Ankit Chendage soon realized that a good vocabulary was not an end but a means to self-discovery

We started coming to school ten minutes earlier than everybody else. We would use that small window to skim over the English newspaper. As the heavy newspaper vocabulary began to drive us crazy, we shifted our focus to watching English series on the Disney Channel. In fact, I still remember the days I watched The Suite Life of Zack & Cody just to enhance my English-speaking skills.

We actually did get better over time. We were still far from perfect, but the vocabulary in our essays and letters was visibly better. Even though we were still not in a position to stake our claim to the Saturday spoils, it was no longer a one-sided contest. We had suddenly become worthy rivals. As time passed, English comics, sports journals and TV shows helped us bridge the gap even further. Soon, we were actually in contention!

As I matured, the competitive spirit took a back seat. Reading, however, had become an inseparable part of my life by then. I realized that vocabulary was nothing more than a means to an end. In fact, today I read many books when I am traveling or at home. Sometimes, I even carry a novel to my office. While it was not love at first sight, this lifelong friendship has indeed been an unshakeable pillar of support in all circumstances in my life.


Aniket is also passionate about writing. If you found his story motivating, do take a minute to check out his blog here.

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