A graceful figure clad in a sari, she is sitting on the floor. Her back is straight resting against a door or wall. She always read in this position, her body making a right angle, erect in posture, only feet crossed at the ankles, for the three decades I knew her. Her book would be exactly 25cm away, the free hand’s index on her chin. Sometimes her forehead would crease in riveted attention, sometimes a smile would play and sometimes (one of my favorite sounds), a chuckle would escape. I would wait and watch her almost meditative form with admiration and curiosity. The title on the books would be in different languages, some I could read, some were squiggles I still can’t decipher.
That is one of my memories when I think of my grandma, reading with gusto, reading with love.
My grandma read everything, from philosophy to classics to war stories to children’s books. If she liked it, she would read it. She never read because it was the ‘in’ thing or everyone was jumping onto the bestseller bandwagon. She read for the sheer joy of it.
She also read with pride. She did not see age or genre when it came to books. She devoured Enid Blytons, Jane Austen, Mills and Boons and Archies Digests all with the same enthusiasm. Light, dense, old, new, modern, classic and everything in between, she taught me that like music, different genres are appealing for different moods and energy levels. We limit ourselves when we think that middle age calls for philosophy or that chick-lit is only for women.
I love how my grandma read in many languages. A drawback of the times she grew up was that she had to discontinue her studies quite early. But she never stopped learning or growing. Books were her way of education. She showed me in her inspiring way, what an effortless conduit books are to learn from the masters, from great leaders and cultures. Needless to say, when she graduated at fifty plus with a first class degree in world history, it was not even surprising.
I wanted to write a lot more, about many more different aspects of this gracious and wonderful person who gave so me the gift of reading but I simply miss so much. (this post is sparked by the thought that this week was her birthday)
But inspired by the joyful bundle of cheer she was, I leave you with a question instead. Who do you think of when you think of reading? Is there a person who shaped your habits, a particular memory that you hold dear. What is it? Share in the comments below. Until then, adieu and Happy Reading!