Unlike a lot of kids, my school days were far from exciting. I had extremely strict parents. That meant, no TV (almost always), no hanging out with friends (ever), scarce playtimes and never, ever a complaint from the teacher. All those were expected of me and my sister irrespective of anything. I was so terrified of my father, that when my math’s teacher slapped me (the first and last time I ever got slapped that hard by a teacher apart from my father) for not doing the homework, I literally begged him not to inform my father (surprisingly he agreed too). Any complaint from any teacher about the two of us was unforgivable for him, and what usually followed were days of scrutinizing every small activity of ours and extra sternness on top of the already existing mountain of stringency. Amidst all these, the only form of entertainment for me were books. No, not text books, obviously; but novels, comics, magazines, short stories, and all kinds of literary entertainment that could be considered as an entertainment for a ten-year-old! That’s when I met Blyton’s creations.
I am 31 now, and I recently read an Enid Blyton. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it as much as I did when I was younger, however all those memories (fond and not so fond) came back flooding. One of those was, when I came third in the half yearly examination in the sixth standard, the most popular girl of my class invited me over to her place (only because she got one rank short of third). Her room was a wonderland for any kid who loved colors, children’s books, pop songs, dolls, and Lego. From crayons, to sketch pens, to water colors to glitter pens, to Famous Fives, Secret Sevens, Hardy Boys, and what not! I was elated to have the honor of being in her room as she showed me all that treasure. I loved every minute of it. The books that she owned were the only thing that I could get from another place, the school library, rest all were too far fetched for me. And thus, my escapades with the Blyton Books started. It was the closest thing that I could give to myself in the name of entertainment.
With time, my taste evolved to all kinds of genres, with richly written stories that touched my heart and tickled my brain, and left an everlasting lingering feeling of a special kind of happiness; the one that only a book lover knows about. Coming to think about it, if it wasn’t for all that strictness of my parents (and my introverted ass), I might have never turned towards this lane of books, and stories and imagination, and fantasies, for comfort! What a miss it might have been!
On that note, if and when I have children of my own, I am going to opt for alternatives to try and make them love books in ways other than making them feel like grades are the only way to grow in life.