Me Powaikar February 2018

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Love for books

February is the month when love is in the air. I thought of skipping the Powaikar of the month to write about my romance with books, my eternal love.

When I am asked what made me want to be a writer, my answer has always been, ‘Books’. First and foremost, now, then and always, I have been passionate about books. From the time I began to read as a child, I loved to feel their heft in my hand, and the warm spot caused by their weight in the intimate space of my lap; I loved the crisp whisper of a page turning, the musky odour of old paper and the sharp inky whiff of new pages. Leather bindings sent me into ecstacy. I even loved to gaze at a closed book and daydream about the possibilities inside – it was like contemplating a genie’s lamp. Of course my favourite fairytale was ‘A thousand and one nights’ Imagine buying your life with stories! And my favourite cartoons were those animated characters that popped out of books and partied while the unsuspecting humans slept. In books I could travel anywhere, be anybody, understand world’s long past and imaginary colonies in the future. My idea of a bargain was to go to the library and wander along the book shelves and emerge with a chin-high stack of books that were mine, all mine for two weeks - at a very nominal charge!

What I remember most about the long summer vacations is browsing through the books in my father’s collection to see if there were any new additions. I grew up with those rows of books, I knew where each one was stacked and would immediately spot newcomers. After months had gone by and there’d be no new books, I’d think : Ok, I guess I’ll try this one and then pull one off the shelf only to discover that the very book I was avoiding because of a drab cover or very tiny print or a sickeningly lousy colour or one that was forbiddingly thick, was actually a wonderful cornucopia of emotional linguistic delights.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ which daunted me for many years, in it’s matching leather hardbound wine red covers were volumes that were so thick that I was wary to even pull them out of the shelf but fell in love with its’ rather numbing rhymes and the sheer length of prose. The words transporting me into a different era, imagination taking hold of my arm and letting me escape into that world, excitement surging as I explore hitherto unknown kingdoms and times. 

I experience what the characters in the book experience, I become part of their world. A book stretches your mind in new directions and takes you on a breath taking journey through others’ lives. A perfect way to release stress and take your mind off your problems, reading has a therapeutic effect. Books help me to recharge and ready to face whatever comes my way, find solutions to dealing with every obstacle. My body relaxes as I immerse myselfin a world unknown to me.

I have been a rapacious reader since a young age. I never get bored when I am alone because  I have my books and music to keep me company.  I cannot remember all the books I’ve read any more than all the meals I have eaten (although today Facebook and memories of the past and the food porn you posted earlier remind you). Yet these books have made me. I acquired my language skills and proficiency with words from them. They are in a way responsible for the person I turned out to be, one that I am happy to be. Books taught me to love endlessly and to be compassionate towards others. I have a lot to be grateful to books for. Believe me, books do change lives.

Reading taught me to never touch anything with half your heart. Be present completely in whatever you set out to do and keep at it untiringly. It will yield results for sure.. So sometimes everyone needs to step outside their comfort zone, take a deep breath and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be. I know nothing with any certainty but my books make me want to dream and reach out to the stars. So my advice to all the youngsters out there is to grab a book that catches your fancy and immerse yourself in it till you soar high above living a thousand lives unlike the man who never reads and lives just one. I know that if you love books enough, they will love you back.

I hope at least some of you will be enthused into picking up and losing yourself in the pages of a good book.