I have always enjoyed a good story and thanked my lucky stars I was born in a family of avid readers and wonderful storytellers. In fact, even before I had learned to read on my own, my mum would read me captivating fairy tales and Assamese folklore every afternoon. My dad would take over in the evening, and he invariably picked up the Mahabharata, Panchatantra, and some Russian stories. Back then, little did I know that they were none other than Anton Chekov’s.
To my father’s dismay, I instantly turned to comics when I did actually start reading on my own. Ironically, it was his own stash of Tinkle that led me to do so. He was not particularly fond of the type of English used in those comics. In fact, he was afraid that I will pick up the wrong grammar from them. That is what encouraged him to take the matter into his own hands.
Finally, on my sixth birthday, he gifted me the abridged versions of The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, and Oliver Twist. Boy, did I throw a tantrum! I refused to even acknowledge the present. Fate, however, had other ideas.
Soon, my summer vacations began, and it became too hot to play outside. I was done with all the comics we had at home. I was bored to death, and gingerly picked up The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. My dad still regretted giving me those books, thanks to those birthday histrionics. Surprisingly, I was hooked on the book.
There was no looking back from there – I graduated from the junior state library to the senior one. At school, I used to borrow the library cards of my friends, who never got a book issued anyway. In fact, I had spent many of my Sanskrit and Hindi classes reading storybooks carefully concealed under the desk or between textbooks.
Looking back, it is fair to say that my character and personality are a direct result of the books I have read. Those books have been my constant companions and mentors; almost like an all-weather friend. I have continued to grow with them, or, as my dad often describes it, they have been my escape from the mundane world.
Honestly, I do not favor any one genre. I have carried the burden of the ring with Frodo Baggins; I did not leave Harry alone when he went to face Lord Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. I was mesmerized by Mr. Darcy. And that’s not all. I have even learned some cool management hacks from Mr. Malcolm Gladwell. In fact, you might be surprised to know that my love for comics is still intact, and I go back to them every now and then.
If someone were to ask me where I see myself in another twenty years, I would simply smile and imagine, with closed eyes: me leaning back comfortably in an armchair in a room full of books overlooking the Himalayas.
A NOTE TO OUR READERS
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