I must have been about four years old when I began my journey into the fascinating world of the written word. I can still remember the aroma of fresh chapatis being made by my grandmother and mum in the kitchen as I woke up. Drawn by the scent, I wandered into the kitchen and sat at the table. Without a word, grandma put some water on the wooden table and traced a capital A with the water. Then she added some more water at another spot on the table and waited, smiling. Given the love for water all children have, not to mention their innate curiosity, I traced an A beside the one she had. She immediately praised me, saying that I would become a great writer someday. I could already trace the capital letters of the alphabet even before I had begun kindergarten. In school, I quickly learned to read words. Soon, I was reading my school text books from cover to cover as soon as dad bought them at the start of the academic year.
From there, I progressed to the heavenly world of comics, then illustrated classics and soon the classics themselves. I devoured Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, reveled in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, relished R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island and thoroughly enjoyed reading many other books. I became an eclectic reader, reading classics and comics with equal eagerness. I enjoyed Mark Twain as much as I enjoyed Louis L’ Amour and Edgar Rice Burroughs. They took me into faraway lands, had me encounter strange creatures and cultures and, unknown to me at the time, were slowly but surely improving my reading and comprehension skills. My English compositions were the best in the class, I was always selected to act in school plays, participate in elocution competitions and even began writing rudimentary play scripts for performance on occasions like Teachers’ Day.
From those beginnings, my phenomenal reading skills have helped me study for exams, write over thirty plays and compose three hundred songs over a three-year period. Books have enabled me to actually earn as a writer by writing scripts for corporate films and have empowered me to edit two English language magazines in India. Today, I do all kinds of works in writing – from writing and staging musicals for schools to editing Ph.D. theses to preparing guide books in various academic subjects.
All thanks to my grandma, who had introduced me to the wonderful world of books.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Deepak! It was quite touching, to be honest.
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