Growing up among people, it was books that brought me up! Parenting was split between my biological mother and my relationship with books. Friendship and love came from mainly my maushi (Pachi), my maternal aunt, my siblings, my friends and the books I read as if obsessed! Of course I lived in two worlds – one around me and the other one inside all the books I read!
I was strangely fascinated by classics. Since Pachi was a student of English, we had random books lying around at my Grandfather’s place! From Humphrey Clinker to Lord Jim, Lady Chatterley’s Lover to David Copperfield ! And I, like the voracious caterpillar, devoured them all! And that Chrysalis metamorphosed into me!
So many authors, so many books! Its tough to name favorites, though Jane Austen had a special role to play, with me yearning to be like Lizzy! Her assertiveness, her self assurance! those seemed liked massively attractive qualities to have for oneself! Those crisp and coloured days of childhood! sigh! Romance of a different nature! Fantasy of a different lifetime! Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy! I still enjoy going through the eternal ‘Pride and Prejudice‘. It reminds me of childhood – my childhood, especially.
It was always FICTION that I read. I could not do the ‘self help’ and fact based reading. That seemed too much like studying. Though the thick psychology books that my mother got home from her college library were like endless treasures. She also got home the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle once. I remember that book and the font size and the black and white sketches. The Hounds of Baskerville, A Study in Scarlet ….and so on!
Somehow, Somerset Maugham and Thomas Hardy creeped into my life at some point of time. And with my like-minded friends I would spend time discussing the nuances of the stories and the analysis of the characters!
And I happened to lay my hands on a lot of Russian writers in my Uncle’s home! Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Of course, I also wondered how he managed to be the person he was in spite of reading all the books on his own shelves. That’s when I realized that one had to apply the knowledge and develop the skills if one wanted to grow! Reading a book was not enough. Imbibe, absorb, filter and apply!
P G Wodehouse, of course, added a fun filled twist to life and came as a relief! We were supposed to laugh at the ironies and imperfections of life!