International Book Day was celebrated in April, and I had lazily sent out a picture of my novel "Kismet" on social media urging people why they should read it. However, what fascinated me that entire week, was endeavours by my two. Both my kids are avid readers and recently they left me stunned with the new books they picked up and finished reading.
My older one barely 17, reads political science and "Durbar" by Tavleen Singh. She did not leave any moment to strike a conversation with me or her dad, to discuss the contents of the book. Until last week, we discussed "The Emergency”, the political leaders, and a lot of why's and what's.
And the younger one, barely 7 graduated into picking up the "Blue Umbrella" by Ruskin Bond, a book that fascinates me all time. While the older one is a very observant reader, the younger one turns into a quiz book to me after his read. "Amma why, Amma how, but why" and so on, we go on.
Today, struck in the lockdown, that is with restrictions on travel, my kids reminisce about their last vacation in India 2 years ago. When they would head to the local library (Nehru Library Manipal) on a rainy afternoon, seated in the auto-rickshaw with their grandfather, and their grinning faces sticking out of the window. While both jump like bunnies rejoicing Amar Chitra Katha books and admiring the shelving style, my father would walk hands tied at his back, around in the library, talk to the staff and then wait at a table resting his chin with elbow support.
Now, my kids discuss the geography, history of India with their grandfather on video calls. Also, my pesky little one screams how his granny has not heard of Percy Jackson or harry potter or even Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There is a special chord in the bonding with grandparents and children when they discuss books. This took me back to a time, and I remember discussing books with my grandfather. He had held my hand and taken me to the government-run library in the town. The town that resembled a village more in my formative years. I had myself gone to a school that barely qualified as an English medium school. Most spoke in their mother tongue. English was in the process of being explored. I distinctly remember running my index over the medium-sized letters of the "Nancy Drews" at one point in time and read word by word. Today, when I discuss this with my childhood friend Meera, we recollect, being the town brought up, we missed upon many of the opportunities that our friends were exposed to as "city brought ups". Nevertheless, we were secluded and content in our world then and are now still happy with our progress.
Today when I read my children write their schoolwork, the language they use leaves me super emotionally elated. I still run fingers on them and tell myself “Mission accomplished". Because, unlike the old custom, I am not going to live my unfulfilled dreams through them and trash it on them. But, having utilized every minute to provide them with the opportunities to learn and grow, that I probably missed upon, I feel accomplished.
There is no app to replace the lap. I feel proud, of the hours I have spent reading for them and tricking them into reading books. My pride just multiplies when they use good vocabulary in their conversations. It is a pleasure to always find a couple of books by their bedside which is sometimes the Kindle too.
Paulo Coelho in his book "By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept" tells us why we should let the child inside us live actively. And, I see the child in me when I read with my children.
So, today when my children read I write...