Until ninth standard, I was not interested in reading books. However, April 19, 2013 marked the beginning of a beautiful phase of my life. That was the day when I visited a library for the first time in my life. I have nobody but my cousin to thank for that serendipitous day, as he was the one who had almost forced me to go there. Amid the pin-drop silence of the library, there was little I could do except unwillingly pick up a book to read. The first book I read was a sixth-century Tamil epic titled Manipallavam. Reading it kind of felt like resurrecting the people from those times. I read that book until the librarian had to ask me to leave due to the library’s closing hours. Today, if I am to single out a point along the continuum where I became a reader from a non-reader, that would be it. Or perhaps it was just the beginning of what was to come.

From that day onward, I read one Tamil story after another. By my sixteenth birthday, my increased interest in reading had eerily coincided with my growing fondness for English movies. It was perhaps because I had come to know that the those thrilling Harry Potter movies were actually based on the English novels authored by J.K. Rowling – and Harry Potter soon became the first English book I had ever read. This further accelerated my hunger for reading. I guess I was rather intrigued by the art of writing.

Bala engrossed in reading a book

“Do these authors come from the heaven or what?”, I would often wonder. Luckily, there was nothing of the sort – not that I am some devil who has descended from hell! By that point, I had started writing short stories for various local magazines. In December 2017, I was one of the two story writers representing our school in a regional writing competition. My teachers were fairly confident that I would emerge as the winner. My friends had already started pestering me with their extravagant party expectations. I would be utterly lying if I said that I wasn’t feeling sure about my imminent victory as, in stark contrast with all my writing skills and know-how, my competitor had no experience whatsoever in the field of writing. However, the final outcome was a real bummer to say the least. He had ended up winning the first prize!

Disappointed and dejected, I came across this quote while reading his story – and, for some strange reason, it felt like it was meant for me:

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Bala working on one of his blog articles

These were the words that roused me from my slumber; they had brought me face to face with the reality. I read multiple blogs to enhance my writing skills. Today, as a blogger, I feel that my reading habits have had a positive influence on my attitude, thoughts and perspective on life. The world would be such a better place if we could all motivate at least one non-reader to give books a chance in their life, wouldn’t it?


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