Reading… The best gift Bauji bestowed upon me in Simla of the Sixties
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” How right Steve Jobs has been as I, too, can connect the tiny dots of my growing up years, today, while looking backwards! The times were simple
Perhaps getting my pelvic girdle fractured resulting in immobilized leg for a long time…with no screen to ogle at…the long winter evenings and my restless soul was the best to happen to me. To top it up Bauji would read to me stories from the Puranas; especially the Mahabharata, the Kalyaan and the all time favourite blue colored hard bound the Arabian Nights! How would I wait for him to read to me. Sitting close to Bauji, watching his lips move while reading aloud the stories, and I would be transported to a world which only a child’s brain is capable of creating uniquely for her!! Today I can literally imagine so many neural pathways developing while imagining all those outlandish scenes that I had never believed to exist anywhere in the world!
As Bauji could not be there all the time reading stories to me….I learnt to read at a very young age. Perhaps starting with small story books and gradually moving to bigger ones. And once I learnt to read there was nothing to stop me. Any piece of paper with a written word on it would enchant me! I was hooked for life….life of reading!
And now Bauji’s job was to make us read read from the books….he would just listen. When I would read from books in English he would translate the stories into Hindi, giving us the meanings of difficult words in Hindi. And it led him to give us his dictionary and making us look for the meanings ourself!
We were supposed to memorize spellings of difficult words underlined in the page that we would read. Amma would take dictation of this difficult spellings. It makes me laugh today to remember how difficult I would find the spellings of the word “obediently”!!
This was not specefic to me as we, the kids raised in Simla of the Sixties, had little to do during long winter months except reading and sharing stories, learning new words, memorizing spellings and taking dictations! There was no television and no spellcheck…. luckily for us….a blessing in disguise though we learner all this in a hard way!
Looking back I wonder had there been tele-screens to hold me to….. would we have waited and cared for someone reading stories to us? Above all during the long cold evenings sitting around Angithee reading and sharing stories was a beautiful way to pass time in those cozy little homes of Lower Bazaar in Simla of the Sixties.
Looking back all dots are falling in line…one dot connecting to another and another and I can see Bauji smiling in his most affectionate way at his daughter who still loves to read!!! Bauji’s best gift to his daughter raised in Simla of the Sixties!