When I think of my love for printed treasures, I am instantly taken back to the time when my mother would sit me down with a glass of hot Bournvita milk on a cool rainy afternoon and hand me a storybook. She would sit beside me with a book of her own. The feeling, the ambience was so incredibly beautiful that it has remained etched in my heart. In fact, it was there that I started falling hopelessly in love with reading.

My earliest recollections include my father bringing volumes and volumes of riveting storybooks, encyclopedias, magazines and whatnot, on his way back from his pan-India business trips. So much so that by the time I was eight, I was already a proud owner of a small cupboard of books!

As time passed, I became increasingly fond of reading. No day would be satisfactorily over until I had read a story, or a chapter from an encyclopedia. No journey of mine would begin without a Tinkle, Champak, Chandamama or, as I grew older, a novel or an autobiography. It just had to be a written material to grab my attention.

I remember my father had an annual subscription of Reader’s Digest, and it used to arrive by post. I used to hide and read it in the storeroom before anybody else just so that I could relish the fresh scent of a new book! Even today, whenever I get my hands on a new storybook, I am inevitably drawn to take in the fragrance of its pages. You could argue that it has become a ritual.

However, with round-the-clock online classes in these testing times, I am pained to admit that my patience for completing a book has been at an all-time low. Chronic headaches and nausea stemming from screen sickness have also played their part in keeping me from reading. I hope things get better soon so I can help myself to some of the Agatha Christie classics I have been meaning to read for a while.

Pallavi Ratha feels that she has become a more thoughtful person thanks to her reading habits

Honestly, I was never a quiet child, but my reading habit made me a more considerate person. I shall be forever indebted to my parents for having introduced me to this wonderful universe of print. Even today, I think I am falling deeper and deeper in love with a hobby that has been part of my life since my formative years. Personally, I think gifting somebody a book or introducing them into the world of reading is a blessing above all others; no gift can be more meaningful or valuable than the gift of the power of knowledge and the freedom of imagination.

I will not go so far as to claim that I am a bibliophile, for my love for reading still continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps it knows no end, and words are just not enough to describe it. Simply put, it is something you need to – and you absolutely must – feel on your own.


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