I have never been a socially amiable person since my early days. When I first got admitted to school, I was the smartest kid in the class. However, I was far from being the most popular one! I barely had any friends.

I still remember how the first-grader me was upset when our summer vacation plans got canceled due to an emergency. In fact, I was so distressed that I finished my entire holiday homework in the next two days! And that’s where things got problematic.

Back then, I only had one friend and even she was away on vacation with her family. It didn’t help that I was an only child – I had no siblings to hang out with! I’m a millennial, so smartphones or the Internet were unheard of in my childhood. In case it isn’t clear yet, I was feeling lonely, upset and bored, with hardly anyone to talk to or play with!

Over the next three days, I kept whining about this! I was getting really impossible and my mother was having a hard time dealing with me. I would throw tantrums and even have the occasional breakdown. Obviously, however, none of it was helping my cause. I finally went to my mother with a rather… queer demand.

‘I want a friend! A brother, sister… just anyone to spend my holidays with!’

My mother tried to bribe me with dolls, soft toys and other games, but I had made up my mind. It had gotten to a point that I wouldn’t even eat or step out of my room! I had made it fairly clear that I would only open the door when they got me some company.

The whole day passed and I was still locked inside my room. By the time it was evening, my father had come up with a solution.

“I’ve got a friend, a best friend for you!” said my father as he knocked on my door. I rushed to open the door and meet my new buddy, which turned out to be a book! It was a collection of ten short stories for children. I was so happy to have it. I finally had a friend, a true friend! A friend who would never turn his back to me, hurt me, or judge me. A friend who would always keep me company.

Rituparna Goutami story on Ameya

Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with books. And this love would only bring out a stronger, sharper and better version of me, changing my life forever.

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Rituparna currently works as a freelancer. Check out her profile here.

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