“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.” – Maurice Sendak
Imagine a kid in sixth grade. A shy and quiet kid eating her lunch alone. But, before you feel sorry for her, she had the best company. Anne Frank, Mark Twain, Willy Wonka, and Noddy. When other children walked down in corridors, hand in hand with friends. I rushed to classes with a novel tucked under my arm.
At a very young age, socializing was a problem for me. I couldn’t make friends easily, or just start conversations with new kids. I was in all sort of debates and competitions, but when it came to socializing I just wasn’t confident enough. My mother sensed this discomfort. Instead of forcing me into awkward conversations, she gave me the best gift of my life, Panchtantra and Tenali Rama! I never longed for friends anymore.
At a very young age, socializing was a problem for me. My mother sensed this discomfort. Instead of forcing me into awkward conversations, she gave me the best gift of my life. Panchtantra and Tenali Rama!
I was the kid who ransacked the library. The teachers always had a list of new books ready for me. But I have never read a book just to look more productive than others. Books always felt like a portal to me. A portal to time travel, space travel, be anywhere the book took me. It was an escape for me, to avoid the awkward interactions and embarrassing scenarios I had in my head. I would rather read 10 books than muster up the courage to talk to a stranger. I wept for these characters, laughed with them and even fought for them. I remember reading Anne Frank: Diary of a young girl. My mother found me crying at 2 in the night and all I could mutter was, “She was captured”.
From reading for entertainment as a kid, as an adult, it has become a self-care activity for me. Winding down with a book after a long day of ‘socializing’ or even a 2-hour party is relaxing. It’s a great way to calm down when I am anxious as well. Over the years I have read over 70 books. I have fallen in love with multiple characters, condemned many as well. But one thing a book never fails to make me realize, the world of literature and poetry is beyond beautiful.
Over the years I have become an ambivert. But if I weren’t such an introvert initially, maybe I wouldn’t have fallen in love with reading. I still find my escape in reading and a home in books.