It’s World Book Day today, April 23rd. While I always assumed that there must be a day to celebrate books and our love of reading, this is the first time I have written of it. It may sound like a cliché, but I owe practically everything I know to books. I was a very shy child. We lived in Bombay the first 9 years of my life, and my Mom used to read my cousins and I, stories from books borrowed from the neighborhood circulating library. These were small lending libraries operating out of homes, garages, roadside stall and shops. Comic series like Amar Chitra Katha, Richie Rich, and Archie. She interpreted, and in some cases, translated stories from Indian mythology. Books by Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. We would wait for her to have a few minutes free from her work, and we would start begging her to read. We were old enough to read by ourselves, but it was so much fun to sit together, and listen.
My family and I moved to Muscat, Oman just shy of my 10th birthday. The expat life was new and exciting, and while Oman is just a few hours away from Bombay, it was a different country, and became a doorway to the rest of the world. New friends. Different cultures. And more books. At the time we moved, there were no libraries for English books in Muscat, except for the library run by the British Council. There was a small library at our school, but the librarian was eccentric and temperamental, and would revoke our class’ weekly borrowing privileges if even one child was unruly (which given that we were kids, someone was every week). The British Council library was in a crumbly, old adobe-style building, a few feet away from the Arabian Sea. We made a once a week trip to the library, and it was exciting to find old favorites, and discover new ones. I waited impatiently for that trip, and would carry back books that I hoped would last me the whole week. Reading became my life, and it has not changed much.
I have tried my hand at a few different things in this lifetime, but there is one more thing I’d like to try- to write a book. It would be great if it’s wildly successful too! I don’t know what kind of book – just words, or incorporating photography, but today, I want to send that wish into the universe. Tell me about your reading memories and favorite books! And a Happy World Book Day to you! – Priya