For Chennai residents, June has been a benevolent month this year. Temperatures have hardly soared and there have been several days when the sun has hardly been seen. Today was one such day. And like a young doctor said, just the kind of day you’d love to snuggle in bed with a book you want to read, interspersed with regular cups of hot tea. Well, I’ve been doing some reading lately; no, not of newspapers and magazines. I’ve had enough of newspapers and could do without reading them if given a choice. But being in the news publishing business, you are supposed to keep abreast of what’s happening.
So, the kind of reading I’ve been doing lately is, of course, books. What can ever be a better friend than a book! I recently had a look at my small library at home and found to my utter surprise that there are in fact many books I haven’t read at all – from biographies to Mughal-era fiction to pure history. Some of them I had bought myself, with my own money; others have been added over weeks and months by my daughter who simply devours books. I wish now I had her ability. Not having time to read good books is just no excuse. How does she mange to read as much as she does, with all her studying and exams and dissertation etc?
It’s just that I’ve chosen to leave my old reading habit behind, hoping to play ‘catch up’ in retirement. Then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue I realised that it’s foolish to wait till retirement. What if there isn’t one? Or what if you didn’t last till then? And that is how I got back to my reading habit, albeit slowly, but surely. I am hoping it will mark the rekindling of a beautiful old relationship.
I decided to start with Ruskin Bond. I have always found him to be a delightful author. A Town Called Dehra charmed me beyond words. Quickly I lapped up A Bond with the Mountains and An Island of Trees. I continued with his Children’s Omnibus and am now in the midst of his Treasury of Stories for Children. I have already added Room on the Roof and Vagrants in the Valley to my long, long list of must-buys.
Wondering how in the wide world I’m finding all the time to read Bond’s stories when I should be out working! Well, I am now on what you might call a sabbatical. Of course not like a teacher taking time off to study or travel, but just a writer-editor taking life a little easy and finding time to snuggle in bed at times and read Bond. When pressures of money and stomach get hard, this cozy routine is bound to change. But I am proud to be one of those brave ones, living life the way I want sometimes.
Which brings me back to the young charming doctor who desperately wanted to spend the day with a book, but who couldn’t. Her patients did not allow her to do that, and she isn’t the sort who can disappoint patients easily. Once at her clinic I’m sure she must have forgotten all about books and bed and tea, what with all the phone calls to handle too. She would dream, however, she said. Dream about all the things she wanted to do. I didn’t dare ask her what it was all about, but that set me thinking of some of my own dreams… dreams when I was not even in my teens and how my friend’s elder sister next door got me hooked to her lovely long tresses… in my dreams, of course! Hah! More of that later.