Sunday, November 29, 2015

As a kid..

'What was the one toy that a friend had that you wished you had when you were little?'

I remember this quite well. And it wasn't a toy. It was books.

As a kid, we weren't really allowed to go to friend's houses. My mum had given us strict instructions to play at the playground and head straight home. We were forbidden to go to other kids' houses or to invite them home unless mum was with us or there was some other important reason that she knew about. I had this friend when I was I think 8 or 9 years old. She wasn't such a special friend and I didn't like her all that much too. Until one day she turned up at the playground with a wonderful storybook (I don't remember what exactly it was). She wasn't really interested in it and left it on a bench and ran to play. I discovered it and I spent the rest of the evening on that bench with the book. When it was time to go, I returned her book and sheepishly asked her if she had more. She said yes and I requested her to bring another one, the next day.

And this became a norm and I would sit and read at the playground everyday. One day she brought back a book I'd already read and when I was disappointed, she invited me to her place. I thought about it and then quickly accepted. Then I went to her house and discovered that she had so many books that it was almost like a library. It was like paradise for me and I squealed in delight. Her dad, it turned out was an avid reader and kept buying books for her. She, on the other hand wasn't so interested in them. Many a book just lay there unopened. I asked my friend if I could borrow a book. She wasn't too keen on that once she discovered that I was so excited. She said I could only read when she was with me in the park. That was when her dad intervened. The friend in particular wasn't so nice but her dad, most certainly was. He found out that I had been reading everyday in the playground and immediately scolded his daughter for not sharing her books with me. He asked me about what books I had read and liked and immediately picked out a couple for me and said that he'd be very happy if I read them. After this, I was a regular at their home. I was devouring books at a pace that the friend's library was exhausted soon. Ma eventually found out that I was doing this and accompanied me one day and had a chat with my friend's dad. She was happy to hear what he had to say. I know my friend was not too happy that her dad was encouraging me to read. Eventually I stopped going to her home and I discovered and with Ma's help, became a regular member at the neighbourhood library and thence began my lifelong love with books.

I continue to read, to this day but not as much as I'd like. Pickles also loves to read and he loves to read with me. I'm hoping this is something I can pass to him. He already has a little book collection of his own and loves visiting the library every few days with me. I've stopped buying books at the moment (I read on my kindle or borrow from the library) but I have started hoarding books for Pickles instead. I guess I just don't want him to discover his love for books the way I did.

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