Being the only child, I was at the classic disadvantage of having plenty of time without any significant company. However, perhaps those are the situations when the clichΓ©d statement about books being our best friends start making (more) sense. My love affair with books started from the curriculum textbooks of the G.S.E.B. (Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board). Amrut Ghayal’s profound ghazals about life and love, not to mention the exhaustive character portrait of Prithviraj Chauhan and his journey to becoming the greatest king of his time, were very appealing to my young mind.

I did not take me long to take a membership in the local library, where I would explore books that would not just offer me the much-needed company, but would even help me in several ways. I started with illustrated English books. The move had the desired effect – at a very early age, I was able to write letters in English to my NRI cousin sister, who could neither understand Hindi nor Gujarati. Furthermore, like every Indian student, I too had made some study timetables during my Board exams. Considering the fact that I had a horrendous record in following those tight schedules, I would get myself a motivational book or two to keep my spirits high.

Just like fine wine, age only served to further improve my relationship with books. I had the privilege to learn about my country’s great culture and the lofty ideals of our ancestors. Books such as Zaverchand Meghani’s Saurashtra Ni Rasdhar, Kasumbi No Rang and Sorathi Baharvatiya gave some of the most breathtaking accounts of the dakus and the thugs (who were vilified, through the notorious thug literature, and eventually annihilated by the British for their stiff resistance to forced eviction from their lands along with the deceitful and shady conversion activities). Pila Rumal Ni Gath and Jagga Dakuna Ver Na Valamna by Harikishan Mehta were also very appealing to me. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist had fascinated me right from the day I had read about it in a newspaper until after a month later, when I had finally finished reading it. Since then, I have been particularly inclined to read motivational books. Kaajal Oza Vaidya and Chetan Bhagat have been no less influential in my intellectual development.

Though fond of Gujarati literature, Sakina also has a special place for quality Hindi and English books in her heart

Besides reading, I am also fond of traveling and exploring unknown places. But, then again, that’s something I have learned from books as well. During those blissfully long journeys or family gathering that make it impossible for me to carry a book, eBooks prove to be my saviors. Digital platforms like Pratilipi and Matrubharti, among others, not only whet one’s appetite for reading, but are also well-known platforms for budding writers that help them strike a chord with their readers.

To sum up, for me, positive thinking is one of the biggest perks of reading. The inspiration and guidance books offer help us deal with the problems that life throws at us. But, more than anything else, they give us their worthwhile company – and sometimes, that’s all we need!

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your intriguing story with us, Sakina! We earnestly hope that books will remain your trusted companions forever.

As for you – the Indian reader who has stumbled upon this peach of a story – this is your cue to take out a few minutes from your hectic life and share your story with us. It won’t cost a dime – that’s a pinky promise!