As I ponder over this question now,  many years later, I begin to realize that I have to give credit for this to my mother.

No. She didn’t force me into reading or intentionally inculcated that habit into me, introspecting that it will be beneficial for me.Maybe, you can say, that simply seeing her reading books, which she had as a habit since her childhood, I too simply felt like reading.
Of course, I couldn’t read the books she reads.
Firstly, they were full-fledged novels and secondly, they were in Tamil.
And for a Class 2 kid, reading such huge work wasn’t prudent and moreover, I couldn’t read Tamil back then.

The Books by Ramanichandran my Mom reads

Yeah, I distinctly remember that I was in Class 2, because we have just then relocated from New Delhi to Visakhapatnam and my mom was concerned if her collection of books arrived safely.
And seeing her arrange the books in her part of the shelf, in the cupboard, and seeing my part of the shelf empty; I too wanted to fill my part of the shelf with as many books as possible.
However, I didn’t realize that the collection she owns is a result of years and couldn’t be achieved overnight.

A Sandilyan Novel from my mom’s collection

So, that was one reason, why one could say that I got into the habit of reading, maybe, in an indirect manner. Because, if one carefully analyses the situation, my primary intention was to fill the space on the shelf that was provided for me.
And the second reason could be attributed to the fact that I used to pester my mom for bedtime stories and would ask her about the stories she reads. She primarily reads Ramanichandran’s novels which are hardcore love stories. One may consider them equivalent to Mills and Boons.

Collection of Ramanichandran Novels

So, again, I might not have the aptitude to understand them. And the other books she used to read were essentially magazines like Anandha Vikatan or Kunkumum and they are mostly related to what one could call today as B-Town gossip.
So, for the bedtime stories, she narrated tales which I later came to read through Panchatantra or Jataka tales as well.
And seeing that I wasn’t really satisfied with her storytelling alone and was keen on reading, and also filling my shelf with books, she finally decided to get me my first book, the Ramayana for Children when the opportunity presented itself.

The very first books that I read

And like others in the defense background, even we used to visit our hometown mandatorily at least once in a year, and this journey always happened by train. And for my mom, hometown visits also necessarily included adding some more books of Ramanichandran and other authors to her collections and also back in those days, books were a go-to companion during train journeys, for my mom.

And here, is when my mom let go of one of her books (of course, in a lower-middle-class family, this should be self-explanatory) and helped me add my first book to my collection. She was primarily looking for Panchantantra or Tenali Rama because they would be short stories collections. However, the bookstore didn’t have them.

Other Tamil novels my mom reads

Retrospectively, when I think of it, it was maybe, destiny that I had to start my journey with the Journey of Shri Ram.
And that’s how I got into reading and also got to know a taste of our country’s heritage and culture. Once I used to complete a chapter, then I would give my mom a brief summary of what I read and then she used to add more details to it and gradually our bedtime stories shifted to tales from Ramayana and the folklore associated with it.
And I think, if I am not wrong, I completed the book before I entered class 3 and with a very primitive and basic understanding of Ramayana.

Stay tuned to know more about my Reading Journey…

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