On International Book-Lover’s Day, Namrata shares her memories of being a book-lover since childhood and how she fell in love with stories.
We all are story tellers, aren’t we? What else would you call the way we cook up stories when we want to lie, when we manage to create imaginary characters just to please our children, when we write essays and autobiographies in schools or better still manage to grab the attention at get-togethers as we go about narrating simple day-to-day incidents with a panache that has everybody hooked!
My first experience with a real story was the day I had asked my mom the eternal question – Mamma, where did I come from? And my mom very lovingly placed me on her lap to narrate a story which began with the usual Once upon a time. I clearly remember I had asked my mom to narrate this one so many times to me that I had lost count. I loved the part where she said “And we got you home!” I just loved the joy that one sentence carried. Perhaps that was the moment I fell in love with stories and with happy endings too!
As I grew up my mother introduced me to reading, Cinderella being my first book ever. Since then the appetite for books has just increased. She thought she is taming a hyper active child but actually books only became one more activity for me as I literally gulped them down. I remember our summer holidays, going to my nani’s (maternal grandmother) house in a train with all kinds of knick-knacks packed in the bag. We were allowed to buy one thing to last during the journey. My brother usually bought a game while I got a book. My mom would purposefully hide it, only to hand it over once the actual journey began because she knew it won’t last the whole journey any which ways and I would be back to my ever questioning self! And I had to make do after she gave me one spiteful stare and said, “No… I am not buying you any more books….”
I would spend my whole summer holidays playing with my toys. I would line them up in a row and enact a story making each one of them a character, try to imitate different voices, give them names and make them do things I had probably read somewhere or seen on TV. Not that we had a lot of variety when it came to TV in those days but whatever little it was, was enough to trigger my imagination.
Once on a whim Mom got me enrolled at a nearby library. It was at my insistence as she found it difficult to have me around the whole day with nothing to do. I had just given my boards and yes nothing was exactly what I did the whole day. One day I came back from the library stating, “Ma, that library Uncle wants to meet you. He says he won’t give me any more books without that”.
The first thought that came to her mind was she is surely reading something she should not be. Off we went to the library and that Uncle seeing my mom began, “We just wanted to check is she really reading?” My mom in all her bewilderment replied “Oh yes.. That is what she does. The only thing I see her the whole day with is a book. Why what happened? Is she reading something wrong?”
“Arre noo.. We are all surprised at her pace. She has almost read 3 books in a day and that too thick novels and we thought the girl is just doing this for fun but when we asked her the story she remembered it all, so thought of asking you.”
Though mom heaved a sigh of relief there I knew I was going to get a lecture of how much was enough. And lectured I was, not only that day but for years to come. For every time I did not like anything that was happening around me I would grab a book and get lost in the oblivion.
Slowly as the characters begin to come to life and the story begins to take shape all the noises begin to drown in the background and all that can be heard is the rustling of pages along with my pacing heart beats.
I can actually visualize my mom even now, screaming at me, don’t read so much, don’t read in this position, and don’t read in poor light, not when you are travelling, you will get bad eye sight. And I would be thinking, “Whatever… I am still reading...” and turn a deaf ear. She is so fed up with me now that she has stopped saying anything!
Nothing and mind it nothing could stop me from reading even after millions of such incidents. I have finished novels in hours and spent the whole night talking in my sleep about how beautiful it felt. I have read till wee hours and cried myself to sleep when a character has faced pain and hurt, the most impactful for me was the 7th and final part of Harry Potter. I cried like a child when I read the moment he dies in the book. No, it was not because he was dying, it was the emotions that had choked me up there.
How can I forget the tears I shed when I read P.S I love you, Love story, Harry Potter, A walk to remember, How about a sin tonight, Love, Peace and Happiness, Seven steps in the sky, various Chicken Soup Series, Aleph, Veronica decides to die , Women writing in India (I & II) etc.
The giggles I had while reading Two states, some of Cecelia Ahern’s books, Princess Diaries, Diary of wimpy kid, Harry Potter (again!)
The magic I witnessed in Harry Potter (yet again – gosh I think I need to do a separate post on all that I learnt in these 7 books), Manual of the warrior of the light, Lord of the rings, Cinderella , Snow-white, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty…………
The beauty of love & relationships I experienced when I read Home, Where do you belong, From the eyes of my mind, Life of Pi, Brida, A calendar too crowded, Because I am girl,
The charisma of friendship I felt in 5 Point Someone, One night at Call center, If God was a banker, Custody, To live once again, Life-as it is, It’s your move Word freak, Urban shots, Oh… the list is endless…………….
Throughout my growing up years I had rationing on my book-buying. So the moment I started earning I made a list of books –to-be-read and would save for them every month. Thanks to the Landmarks, the Crosswords and the Flipkarts of the world now I demand only vouchers as my birthday gifts too as I go about buying all the books in the world!
The moment I enter a bookstore I am like a crazy kid in a toy store. I run my fingers over the various books there first just to get a feel of them, and suddenly stop at one. I somehow believe books speak to me. And I stop at a book that has just started saying something. I feel the book, read the blurb and then I open the pages to smell them. Once I am convinced with the feelings these actions have invoked I buy that book. Sounds weird – but then that’s Moi!! 😉
Few days back when I was extremely upset I ended up buying some 11 books – each one I was lusting for since a long time and my did I feel good.. I was jumping the moment I saw them. I thrive on books and I cannot imagine a moment without them. They transform me to a world full of imagination, make me believe in things which perhaps are not common around me but I know they do exist.
I breathe books when I am reading and live them when I write. My love for writing perhaps generates from the deep rooted love for anything related to words. I am a book hoarder, having some 2000+ books and I dream of a house with a library in it someday. And when I will die I want to be buried with my books so that I can continue to exist in my magical world of words.
Namrata is the editor of Kitaab.
Namrata is a lost wanderer who loves travelling the length and breadth of the world. She lives amidst sepia toned walls, fuchsia curtains, fairy lights and shelves full of books. When not buried between the pages of a book, she loves blowing soap bubbles. A published author she enjoys capturing the magic of life in her words and is always in pursuit of a new country and a new story. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.