I am an out-and-out bibliophile; I even love the smell of books. I started reading at a very young age. Maybe it was something I learned from my father. Looking back, I still remember the times when I and my brother went out to buy vada or some other snack from the street vendors or the local bakery. Back then, I was more interested in the piece of paper – which generally came from a magazine or newspaper – in which the snack was wrapped than the snack itself.
Now, my mother was a very conservative person. She would not let me read any book other than the Bible. It may sound funny to some people, but it is true. That is why my father would have to sneak in short story books and political magazines. I used my textbooks – which were huge, by the way – to hide those books and magazines. Once I was done with them, I would put them back in my father’s bag.
For my sake, my father enrolled in a local library. To be honest, the two of us do not talk much. Books were the only common interest we shared. His narration skills were quite fantastic. I could listen to his stories for hours at a stretch.
My friends were also kind enough to lend me some books. For my part, I would literally beg them to give me a book that was relatively new.
I spent my college days at a hostel, which was where I began reading novels. I got access to plenty of books there, thanks to the college library. There were times when I read even while eating. I guess I still do that sometimes. It helped that my roommate was a reader as well. In fact, we had three separate shelves for books. I still fondly remember the times when we discussed books and laughed at some of the things we had read.
College was also the place where I met my husband to-be. Amusingly, we even had our first date in a library – the renowned Anna Centenary Library in Chennai! What did we discuss? Well, our favorite books and authors, among other stuff, of course!
Meanwhile, my career brought me to Chennai. More than anything else, I was happy that I could now buy my own books. I had always kind of dreamed of owning a personal mini-library.
My husband himself is the proud owner of an impressive book collection. He too had started reading from an early age. He still has all the books he has read – the comics he read as a child, and the books he read in college. On the other hand, our frequent visits to bookshops keep helping the cause of our personal library.
The fondness for reading, which I had acquired from my father, has now passed on to the next generation as well. In fact, sometimes I am surprised at how passionate my two-year-old son is about reading! I make it a point to buy him a book every month, and he gets fairly excited to turn the pages and check out the images within.
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