My first memories of ‘reading’ a book are that of the Bhagavad Gita. I was in fifth grade when my grandmother read it out to me. As you would expect from someone my age, I didn’t find it particularly interesting back then. However, during my tenth-grade summer vacations, I received an illustrated copy of the Mahabharata from my uncle as a gift. The cartoonish nature of the book rapidly caught my attention. I was suddenly fascinated by the characters of Krishna, Arjuna, Draupadi, Kunti, Pandu, Bhishma, guru Drona and his son Ashwatthama (whose soul was cursed to wander around in solitude for eternity). That is when I decided to ask my grandmother to lend me her copy of the Bhagavad Gita. Unsurprisingly, she did.
Having read half the book, I couldn’t help but feel curious about what happened in the aftermath of the Kurukshetra war, but with my vacations just coming to an end, I had to look for a shortcut to all the questions that kept hounding me. That was when Wikipedia came to my rescue. I felt a queer sense of relief after reading about the ending of this epic. Did I stop there? Well, of course, not.
In my endeavor to cross-check my Wikipedia knowledge, I read the whole thing in my eleventh standard – this time, to the very end. By that point, I had decided to broaden my horizons and look beyond spiritual and religious texts. Novels and short stories were on top of my reading wish list. As I grew older and started going to college, I had the privilege of reading some of the best works of Shakespeare. The stories of Sujatha Rangarajan narrated by my mother also had a long-lasting impression on my psyche. I also read them on my own so as to not miss out on any minute detail of their nerve-wracking endings. In addition, I also read the Tamil thriller Kolaiyuthir Kaalam.
The enormous college library only served to whet my appetite for more books. I used to visit the library every day with one of my friends, who was no less a bookworm than I was. I actually miss those days when we would sit together and read different types of books and novels.
Today, I read to my son – just like my grandma used to read to me. He is particularly fond of the Panchatantra tales and Alice in Wonderland, among other well-known bedtime stories. I hope I can inspire him to walk along the same path as I did, or to go even further than his mother.
To sum up, I think that reading is the most liberating and refreshing thing one can do. It’s fairly hard to stop once you have started doing it. Like the saying goes, if you don’t like reading, you are probably yet to find the right book to read.
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