My memory, which is similar to that of a goldfish, keeps me from recalling the exact moment I fell in love with books. However, I do remember that it happened sometime between the age of 11-13. Words had become my best friends out of the blue. As a pre-teen, I read what most of my peers were into and could never really go beyond the world of Geronimo Stilton, the twists and turns of A to Z Mysteries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, and obviously the amazing works of Roald Dahl. I read them as a kid looking for some entertainment in life, but never really loved the endeavor itself since I did it more as a pastime than something I enjoyed.

This changed when I was in grade seven. Adolescence introduced me to new and unusual feelings, and I had to turn to the Internet to try and decipher them. As a child who had recently transitioned to a young adult, I was naturally curious to find answers to abstract phenomena. While I did manage to find solutions to most of my queries, the one question that evaded me was the one that has puzzled mankind from time immemorial.

What is love?

Those were the days when Pinterest was becoming incredibly popular. I checked it out and stumbled upon this quote that popped up when I typed in this million-dollar question. It was by Robert Frost:

Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.

At that point, I couldn’t quite figure out what this meant, though the quote itself sounded pretty lovely. This incident made me delve deeper into the works of Robert Frost. Coincidentally, the following year saw some of his best works become part of my syllabus. Reading his poems was what truly endeared poetry to me. The way a poem could drive home the most complex ideas in such a simple manner amazed me to no end.

Well, this was just the beginning. I was soon reading poems like William Shakespeare’s The Complete Sonnets and Poems, Adrienne Rich’s Diving into the Wreck, and The Rumi Collection (this one will always have a special place in my heart). I also read poems by Emily Dickinson, John Keats, and Walt Whitman. However, the poet whose writing style had the deepest influence on me was William Wordsworth, especially through The Lucy Poems. The way he played with simple words and turned them into rhyming poems with profound meanings was sensational.

I was just fifteen at the time, but I already knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to write about love and melancholy, just like Wordsworth did. And the more I wrote, the happier I felt. My reading habit had evolved into a writing habit. This helped me give vent to my emotions, albeit in an escapist way.

Manya Arora national record

It wasn’t like love was all I wrote about, but it clearly was my favorite subject. By the time I turned eighteen, I had composed over forty poems, and what better gift to myself than publishing my own book? It hit the shelves on January first this year in what was a wonderful start to the year. On January 28, which happened to be my birthday, I received a parcel from the India Book of Records, stating that a poem from my book had broken the record for the longest romantic poem in India.

I’d like to conclude by saying that reading has opened a whole new world of possibilities for me.


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