It was the hot month of June. I had gone to attend a distant relative’s wedding. The sun was blazing right above our heads, spitting fire. The weather was extremely sultry. Fans and coolers were of little to no help. I was sitting in a corner, feeling forlorn and jaded.
My parents were busy meeting and greeting the relatives. I, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to go say hello as the heat and boredom were proving too much for me to handle. And that was when I spotted my cousin. I couldn’t have been happier to have found someone to kill time with. I ran over to her, greeted her parents, and then the two of us took our seats in the corner. We talked above trivial stuff, gossiping for almost an hour. That was before she took out a novel from her handbag and started reading it.
I was dumbstruck and asked her how she could choose to read a rubbish book rather than spending time with a real person sitting beside her. My question apparently jolted my bibliophile cousin. She replied arrogantly, ‘Rubbish people like you will never understand the bond between a book and a reader.’
Despite my bruised ego, I couldn’t bring myself to return the favor. However, she seemed in no mood to relent. She at once started explaining how interesting the world of books. She kept going on with, well, all the nonsense readers say. Despite my best attempts to contain my anger and hurt pride, I cut her off and retorted that there was nothing great about reading. After all, anyone could read! I guess I took it a bit too far with that, for she challenged me to read and make sense of just five pages of that voluminous novel within an hour. As aware as I was of my reading prowess – or the lack thereof – I really had no choice but to accept the challenge.
Reluctantly, I began reading the book, wondering at the same time how embarrassing it would be if, or rather when, I failed to complete this simple task. My heart was pounding as I tried to find a way to come to terms with my imminent failure. Yet, pushing those thoughts aside, I mustered up the courage to keep at it. Surprisingly, a few minutes down the line, I was totally engrossed in the book! I read it for three hours non-stop until my parents called me over for some snacks. My outlook on books had undergone a complete change in the most unexpected circumstances. For the first time in life, reading hadn’t felt burdensome!
Well, there was no looking back from there. Reading helped me in every conceivable way in life. For starters, it helped me lay a strong foundation in vocabulary, while giving me the freedom to be more expressive with my thoughts. It also helped me academically as I aced one competitive exam after another. The books I read also boosted my self-esteem, while working as my escape from the mundane stress.
I would like to sum up my story with a quote from the Roman philosopher, Cicero:
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
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