“Mom, come on! We’re getting late, let’s go!” screamed a seven-year-old me at the top of her lungs, eager to get to her painting class. My younger brother stood beside me, surprisingly patient. Both of us were waiting for our mother to come downstairs. “I’m coming guys, hold on a minute. You know it’s not easy for me to leave it right now, especially after I just picked it up,” she replied.
While some might think she was referring to our younger brother or sister, or even a new pet, what she was actually talking about was another book. Another in a long line of books, which were quite possibly the love of her life and, more importantly, the bane of my childhood existence.
Even though studies may suggest that firstborns often do not get along with their newborn siblings, my brother and I had bonded quickly. However, it was my mom’s love for books, which I often referred to as her ‘third child’, that I had grown jealous of. I often wondered why would she want to spend all that time reading a book when she could have done something better with it. For example, she could have played with us.
Thus began my resentment toward books, a journey that lasted for a good few years. Apart from the school-mandated reading, I would not come within six feet of a book. Despite my mother’s numerous attempts to get me to read, I remained an avowed ‘bibliophobe.’
In fact, it was only on my tenth birthday when things began to change. While rummaging through my presents, I came across yet another book. And no, I do not think its title, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was a mere coincidence. Paying it no attention, I kept it aside, over the ever-growing pile of books that I had vowed to never read.
However, my mother had apparently had enough of my tantrums. I guess that is what must have prompted her to go for a change of tactics – instead of asking me to read it, she picked it up herself. Every few minutes or so, she would laugh out loud, or simply chuckle and shake her head. It seemed as if she was having the time of her life, driving me insane at the same time. As jealous as ever, I decided that if the book was really as funny as she made it seem, I would enjoy it before her. So, I snatched it from her hands, blissfully unaware of the smug smile she sported.
Three hours later, having laughed my head off and – just like my mother – fallen hopelessly in love with books, I finally got up from bed. From that day onward, I went into a reading frenzy. I read as many books as I could find, trying to make up for “lost” time. I went from reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, soon shifting to Perks of Being a Wallflower and Not Without my Daughter. I traveled to different worlds from the comfort of my own home and became a little bit of every character I had grown to love.
For all this, I have my mother to thank. She gave me the gift of loving books and turned me from a self-acclaimed ‘bibliophobe’ to a true bibliophile.
At 11, I waited with bated breath,
Hoping for the letter to arrive
At 12, I went to the camp in the summer
Wishing to know the other demigods that had survived
At 13, I swam every weekend,
Looking forward to discovering my new voice
At 14, I wanted to be the player who aced the games
At 15, I thought I’d enter the maze,
At 16, I took part in the selection, hoping he would choose me,
yet knowing I didn’t want to be chosen just yet
At 17, I once cried all night
Hoping that with my emotions, the lightening would strike.
Alas, I couldn’t satisfy my voracious appetite,
my thirst for knowledge, and my hunger for words
So at 18, I sat down and wrote it all down.
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