I walked back from the corner shop and was thrilled at what I had got for my son. When I entered the house my son who was napping till then, seemed to have sensed my arrival and woke up smiling. I gave him the first thing I bought for him as a “gift”, a few board books. My mother, who walked out of the kitchen started laughing, “books for a three-month-old baby? He has just learnt to turn on his tummy, it will be a while before he uses them.” I ignored her comment and started reading out to my son and showing him pictures.
My mind drifted off to my own first books. I don’t know when the habit of reading got into me. I must have been six years old when my house owner’s daughters used to take me to the library with them in Chennai. They would let me read some Richie Rich comics while they browsed through books to bring back home. Probably that was the start. Then I read all the Reader’s Digests that my dad had collected over the years and all the Tamil magazines that I could lay my hands on. Probably my parents at that stage started noticing my love for books and the fact that I was interested in any kind of book other than the ones with brown paper cover, aka, school books.
I still remember getting my first books. My father, on one of our usual weekend trips, had taken us to this temporary mobile book fair which was on a big bus kind of thing and I was fascinated by the fact that it was a bus full of books. I don’t remember what the books were but all I remember of them is they were two big books, bigger than the A4 size, one had a kind of matt finish cover and had pastel colour pictures and it even had an apple tree picture with apples on them. The other one was a dark cover, kind of glossy and I don’t remember anything much other than that. I do remember holding on to them for a few years and sharing them with my younger brother. My mother at some stage must have looked at it and that we had outgrown it and thrown them away or given it to the old paper man.
My son’s giggles brought me back and I realised he was having great fun chewing on the book and using it as his teether.
It is nine years since that incident and I can say, both my children have taken after me and love their books. Now my mother has more reasons to complain that three of us at home don’t hear when she calls and are lost in our world of books.
What was your first book?