Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The joys of childhood and the love for books

“Oh, to be a child again and to go through the lanes passed by”
Most of the happy memories of my childhood involve books. As I grew up in the 80s, there were some blessings – there was no cable television and internet.  So, whatever time we had after school were either spent on playing outdoors or reading. Since I had studied in Kerala for some time, I knew to read Malayalam. Knowing two languages meant books in both languages. My father used to take us all to a market every month to buy clothes, vegetables, etc. Every such visit inevitably had one stop - A small book stall outside a restaurant. This stall had Malayalam magazines and story books. I always picked up two, one was ‘Balarama’, a children’s monthly that had stories, General knowledge topics, contests and so on. The other book that I bought was ‘Chandamama’, a fortnightly book that had many children’s stories and it had beautiful pictures.  Oh, yes, I also picked up Amar Chitra Katha Series and Tinkle too. Uncle Pai had a larger than life image in almost all children’s lives those days. Then, one day, I had the good fortune of seeing him and I thanked him from far for my lovely memories and for the various characters that he helped etch in us. 
Once I got hold of these books, I would just want to reach home and catch a corner and finish each page, sometimes twice. Both books would be read even before dinner was served.

These stories taught me many things about life. It took to another world where truth triumphed, where friendships were all about helping and trusting each other, where men and nature lived in harmony and where the world was a great place to be in. The various characters, Mayavi, Supandi, Shikhari Shambu, villagers, and many more, were an integral part of my life. And even today, I long to meet them.
These stories slowly developed in me a thirst for reading. I started reading more and more so much that, I would never even throw away the paper in which peanut seller packed the peanuts. I would read it once and then put it away. Books also ignited my creativity and imagination. I would imagine confabulations with the characters and sometimes, I will be led to their world and I would be able to tell more about them. These skills have held me in good stead today as my love for writing and penning short stories and poems have come from this love for reading that my parents encouraged.
I do not have children of my own but if there is one thing that I would like today’s children to have, then that would be books. Yes, there are tablets, computers and kindles where children may have a chance to read, but what I would wish for them is to have real books, ones that they can touch, feel, embrace and keep beside their pillow. How I wish children would subscribe for such weeklies and monthlies and wait anxiously at the doorstep for the delivery man to bring in the books! How I wish they would tear open the wrapper and devour the stories with excitement and curiosity!
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Reading opens mind and brain of children. When they read about fairies or the world of Gods or mythological tales, they are also transported into this world. They are able to imagine a lot and who knows, one day, they will be capable of creating such a world themselves. Reading even helps in studies. A child who loves story books will never hate his school texts and that’s for sure.

How I wish every night, every child world over, will have book beside their bed and a bookmark to remind them that the night will be peaceful and the next day will be a beautiful one because there is a story waiting in there for them!

Note:This post is being written for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest.

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