Home alone, this winter night, after my evening bath, as I tucked myself in my warm blanket, to lie down and read, images of my childhood flashed through my mind.
Books have been my companions from even before I could read. And even now I possess each book that I have ever bought or been gifte; that's how much I love them. Before the alphabets and numbers entered my life, there were the picture books. My father had got me these two sets of books, one about animals and one about the flora & the fauna. My favourite was this particular book about horses. I was a little over one, when I fell in love with them. I still am. Horses are the most gorgeous, fastest and the most lovable of animals, in my opinion. If I could, I would have owned and lived in a ranch. Actually, I do ... but that's a story I'l share some other day.
Maa has always been a book addict. I have grown up hearing stories of how she, as a little girl, would gulp (yes, gulp) books after books. Thanks to her, this is one of the best things I got genetically.
About a little later, before I turned 3, I was introduced to stories. Books with fairy tales, and lots of photos! That was my first introduction to Cinderella, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel and the whole lot of characters who became a part of my life. Maa would read me the stories while I looked on to the pictures, imagining them! This was when my imagination took it's first flight. When not being read too, and not playing either, I would spin stories of my own in my mind, with my favourite characters as my playmates.
In case you haven't guessed yet, I am the only child. Hence, a special love for fictional characters. They've always been my playmates. Even in the middle of the night when it was thundering outside, and I didn't want to look like a chicken, running to my parents' room! Unlike regular Indian customs, I had been sleeping in my own room, from the age of 4. I very distinctly remember, when I would wake up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep, I would close my eyes and imagine a tea party with my fictional friends. The next morning, I would wake up with a broad grin on my face, and tell Maa all about my dream (if I could remember it, at all!).
Soon, I was given a thick, fat copy of the Andersons' Fairy Tales. I was five then, and learning to read sentences. I remember starting with reading one paragraph of a story and then Maa reading me the rest, slowly progressing to me reading an entire story.
Call it my imagination or my retardation, it's pretty vivid and can keep me occupied for hours at an end. And, thanks to it, I am always content alone. That's not a bad thing actually, you know!
Disclaimer: If you haven't been introduced to books since almost birth, the above *might* not make any sense to you. Now worries, eh!