It began about a year after my tenth birthday. My classmates had discovered the power of hormones. Friends were categorized into guys and girls, and everywhere, butterflies erupted.
Meanwhile, I, the late-bloomer, was scratching my head at the sudden change around me. It became increasingly difficult to endure conversations with friends. How was I supposed to know how cute my friend’s neighbour was? School became a tiring, inescapable routine.
Home wasn’t any better. Luckily, my parents lacked interest in mediocre television. We did have a TV set — modest and as old as I. Since it served the purpose, my parents preferred not to indulge in luxuries. Besides, we hardly engaged the idiot box. The news was the only thing my father deemed worthy of watching. And listening to people getting ripped off wasn’t exactly my idea of leisure.
That’s when I started looking for alternatives. It was surprising how free I was – so much time, yet so little to do.
More out of desperation than anything, I scavenged the house for old magazines. Tamil or English — it didn’t matter. As long as it kept me occupied. And occupied I was.
But when you’re reading magazines all the time, you realize they don’t publish them as often. Then I went back to square one. One day, I waited eagerly for my father’s return from work, and once he did, I stood in the doorway of his room leaning my head on the frame.
“I’m bored. Can you get me some books?”
My father isn’t the unusual kind. Good grades mattered most to him. And so he responded, “What about your school books? Are you done reading them?”
I wasn’t surprised, I half expected it. Everyone said that , it would have been surprising had he said anything else. Back then, I was young. And timid. I’d rather shut up and sit in a corner than speak back to my father. Not that I was afraid of him — he wasn’t the terrifying kind. It was the utmost respect that I held him in that prevented me from being rude. He has high regard for values and morals. Values my mother also shares. With such parents, I grew up learning to obey elders. I learnt — sometimes the hard way — that elders are experienced and know better than I ever would. It was one of those Indian mentalities you have to accept without questions.
But even I knew he asked too much of me. I was having a hard enough time in school and wasn’t willing to spend my time at home going through the same torture. I’d pretend to study just before my father returned home. When he saw me at it, he’d smile approvingly. I didn’t feel guilty — because I saw he was happy.
There was no point in being a rebel if no one’s going to benefit. That was my first action of disobedience.
But despite this little success, I was still bored. My mother was always supportive of reading. She was a voracious reader herself, but I could seldom comprehend her interest in newspaper articles. I think it was she who suggested the school library.
In the following weeks, I developed a close relationship with my school librarian. Not sure where to start, I decided to pursue a series I had always enjoyed. I discovered the entire series of Enid Blyton classics. As weeks turned into months, my librarian recommended a crime novel that not many students preferred. “The mirror crack’d from side to side” — it wasn’t love at first sight. It was a worn book with torn pages. How silly of me!
I had no way of knowing back then that that’s the mark of all wonderful creations. And so began my love for Crime.
Naturally, my father noticed. I’ve always admired his ability to recognize unconventional behavior. He’s something of a detective himself. What surprised me though, was his approval. Perhaps it was the pretense-studying, or that my grades weren’t so bad, or perhaps my mother had just put in a good word. Whatever it was, my father got me books – where from, I still don’t know.
Those were the best days of my life – days and nights of reading. And then one day, my father handed me “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I remember my hands tingling. I had heard so much about the book, of course. That day, I discovered my love for storytelling.
I read the book about twelve times continuously. To say I was hooked is an understatement. I revered the writing.
How could simple words, in sequence, captivate me so?
I tried to answer myself by reading the book and the series again. To this day, that’s what motivates my reading. The writing made me think. I knew the words; they were straightforward. So why can’t I write it?
Then I realized — writing is just finding the perfect sequence for words we overuse. Could it really be difficult? And so I began writing. Every new book I read helped me discover new styles and words, but Rowling’s writing was the basis on which I built my passion.
Everything I read today kindles the inspiration for my short stories, poems, and blog posts.
Inspired by Anne Frank and the cartoon, “As told by Ginger,” my first writing was in my journal. I liked Anne’s idea of naming her journal “Kitty.” A neutral name — neither boy nor girl. I did the same, addressing my letters to ‘X.’ I still do.