Letters to my daughters – Books!

saanureading

This summer is in its last throes. Like a last gasp before the chill steals in, the air is oppressive. The three of you are cooped up in the house. Between pretend play, a million cries of ‘I am bored’ and ‘Can we watch TV?’ we have managed to spend more than eight weeks together. I look back on this first summer home and realize while it has been fun, there are so many things that I could have done differently. I look back now on missed opportunities. I look back on the time I spent focusing on how exhausted and run down I felt when I could have focused on you instead. Next summer I tell myself.

I look back on my summers growing up. I hardly remember fun things, sibling bonds or travel. Perhaps, there were few and far in between to count. All I remember are the books. The magical world I entered as I opened the first page and got lost in surfacing only for food and potty breaks. I remember sitting outside the house, on the stone slab used to wash clothes, in the shade by the awning on one side of the house. I remember reading on the bed, on the stairs, on the front stoop of the house.

I remember walking to the local library to run my fingers over the well-worn spine of books, lingering and extracting books that seemed to be new to me. As the summer progressed, I despaired as I finished each set and realized there were no more books of that genre to read. I remember the excitement of stumbling on roadside book sellers. The old dog-eared books marked a rupee or less. I remember the joys of discovering The Count of Monte Cristo, Rebecca, Little Women and Jane Austen. I remember re-reading series. I remember re-reading passages, sounding out words, savoring the construct of sentences. I remember journeying as the protagonist of each book I read, experiencing worlds I never knew existed.

Summers meant books. Summers meant reading. End of summers meant being so bored that I read each text-book but Math cover to cover for lack of alternate reading material. I remember heading to high school, having read The Hound of Baskervilles, eager to discuss the book and realizing nobody cared. I realize a lot of my growing up years have featured books. It strikes me that if there is one thing I would like for the three of you to pick up on, it is reading.

Sometimes, when I have that faraway look in my eyes, I am reminiscing of the years ahead when the four of us can sit and read in companionable silence. A lot of the essays I read about mother daughter bonds feature clothes and hair. For me, for us, I hope it will be books. I really do.

Here’s to the start of a new grade and the pleasures of learning to read and fall in love with books. Cheers!

Amma.

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