As part of the armed forces, my father was always posted in different parts of the country. Our vacations involved going sightseeing at the place he was stationed. However, I still (fondly) remember the vacation that made me a reader. It happened when I was thirteen. My dad had taken us to his family home, in Kerala.
I grew up in Bengaluru, a city where all kids watched cartoons on the TV. I spent hours playing computer games like Pac-Man and Prince of Persia, among others. It was, after all, the glorious dial-up era of the Internet.
Anyways, visiting this house, where my father had spent his childhood, was an altogether different experience for me. The village was really beautiful, and the people were unbelievably kind and friendly. The tea tasted superb, and the cool breeze induced the most peaceful sleep I had ever had. That said, it did have one drawback, and a major one at that. There were no cartoons to watch or computer games to play! For the first time in life, I found myself struggling to find a way to entertain myself. Time had never felt so slow before. I remember walking over to my dad, whining like the spoiled child that I was, that his family house was so uninteresting.
Looking back, I guess he must have been very happy at the place he used to call home as a child – his real home. He was just so busy running around, meeting the villagers, and going to the local temples. All he said in response to my question was, ‘Well, then find something interesting to do,” before he walked away.
After finishing breakfast, I was so bored that I went snooping around in the old cupboard and bookshelves in the dining room. There, a book happened to fall right into my hand. It was a dusty old book, which did not seem to have had any human contact for about twenty-five years! That is where things got even more surprising. I saw my father’s name on the front page and found myself struggling to imagine a younger version of my usually easygoing and adventurous father. I actually found it hard to believe that he used to read books in college.
It was a village where technology was yet to catch up, where I was bored out of my mind, and where I had just made the most amusing discovery of my life until then. The stage was set for something unusual, and something unusual it was.
Of all places, it was this village where I was introduced to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was hooked on it almost as soon as I opened it. I still cannot tell why the book grabbed my attention in the first place. It was perhaps because I had always been fascinated by adventure and freedom, and this book was trying to explain Huck’s values, which he used to make decisions based on what his heart told him. I remember getting up in the morning, trying to finish breakfast as soon as I could, and opening this magical book. Slowly but steadily, I kept figuring out what Mark Twain was trying to tell me.
The day I finished the book, I was lying on my bed. Deep down, I knew that my life had just changed forever. My perspective had undergone a paradigm shift. I had always believed that every person is valuable. Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, however, made me realize that not everyone thought that way. He made me realize that I was right in my belief, that the goodness of our heart requires us to act and help those who are subjugated on any grounds. For a person who would have probably otherwise been unaware of this fact, receiving instant gratification from cartoons or computer games, I had found some – or maybe a lot of – motivation from an unlikely source.
So, are you feeling short on motivation? Well, you won’t feel so short on it once you embrace reading as a hobby.
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