that I had no access growing up, I would quickly say – Books! Not the academic books, but the books one reads for fun or the passion. While I appreciate and be grateful for what my parents have done for both me and my sister, there is one thing I cant deny at all. No attempts to make dad get us story books would be successful.
Amma was an avid reader of Telugu literature, story books, novels (even the translated Agatha Christy novels) right from her childhood. Post wedding, she simply didn’t have time for sitting idly at one place to keep reading her books. There would be Telugu weekly-s for her ten minute read just before sleeping off. While dad also had read books early in his life (mostly Telugu books), he didn’t bother to buy books for us other than the academic ones. May be it was his financial situation, I come to think of it only now.
Everytime I or sister made attempts to bring him to a book sale or book shop (in Central Railway Station), he would talk us out of them. His point would be – when you have no free time at all or have many academic books, why bother reading some more books. This seemed quite a logic to us growing up. But when our friends talked of how their parents had taken them to book sales and got them new story books, we would have no story to tell at all.
The school library didn’t offer much too. For the one library period that we had, the teacher would make it “playing-time”, not bothering to keep all 55 students quiet in the library. There have been times, I have ventured into the deserted library only to find torn and very old books. During my entire schooling period, I have never borrowed a book from the library. How sad?!
Not an hour during the summer holidays we would be idle. There was always something for us to do. Playing cricket in hot sun. Coming home to only have food. Taking out our bicycles by the evening to go around the quarters and coming back to practice Kolams on the freshly washed stair case. Evenings were spent watching tv or playing games like name/place/thing/animal. The day would be ended with a walk to the park and having 2rs kulfi ice. Inspite of all this fun, I have secretly yearned for a book. The one I could read leisurely, learning new words, smiling to myself, imagining every sentence as I read. But I never had one. The ones that were around the house were in Telugu (which made me learn the language too). I would take the English literature and Maincourse books for the next term and enjoy reading them, when my desire could no longer be contained. That was fun too.
Even until college, dad didn’t approve of us getting books other than academics. I have not been able to change his mind at all, not even now. Guess what did I do with my first month’s salary – While I got all my closed one new clothes, I got myself a set of books. The ones I had been wishing to read all through my life. It’s the best spent money according to me. The joy of getting my books from my hard earned money – priceless!! There is one thing I must accept though – dad hasn’t interfered at all with all the books I have purchased so far. He goes through them, sometimes.
May be its because of all this, I continue to buy books like “Malgudi Days”, “Adventures of Suppandi” or even read authors like “Enid Blyton”, “Roald Dahl” and many more. I am living all those days I missed during my childhood now, inspite of the fact that I get mocked for reading children books at this age. 🙄 Who cares what others think? I would want to be up-to-date when my kid reads all these!