(I’m scared to put up my fiction. Especially one that was published. But this wasn’t. This is really close to heart and I hope you like it. Share with us if you’ve had such an experience.)
The day I changed my life was the day I picked up my very first book. And, as of today, it has been exactly seven years since I did that.
I was sixteen years old, with a younger brother who loved his books more than me. I couldn’t see what was so great about them. They’re just black ink on white paper! With the exceptions of picture books. And while I didn’t have the time to read my school books, where could I find the time to read stories and useless works of fiction?
My brother always told me to read. He told me that it would give me a broader sense of thinking and a whole new perspective about people and the world and also the way I look at things. As an older sister, I always shut him out. But deep down inside, that little voice inside me always told me that he was right. Naturally, I shut it out, too, even though I knew it was a mistake. How I wished I’d realized it sooner!
One day, I was waiting for the bus to arrive when it started raining heavily. As I opened my umbrella, I saw a second-hand book seller on the side walk across me struggling to keep himself and his books dry. My heart reached out to him. He could suffer a great loss if his books got wet. And I didn’t like anyone suffering knowing I could help. I ran up to him and helped him gather his books, cursing the sudden rain. It took all my will power to not even read the titles of the books. But curiosity won over my will power. I just had to see what it was! When the last book was in my hand, I squinted over the letters saw that it was written ACK on the top- which I immediately recognized it to be an Amar Chitra Katha, the same ones my brother used to brag about. And this one was a collection of adventures of a young detective, Ajay. The illustrations were remarkable! I immediately fell in love with the boy on the cover, which, for some reason, made me want to buy it. I asked the vendor its cost and he asked me to keep it as a gift for helping him. An appreciation of my help. And it was the best gift I ever got so far.
It’s crazy what jealousy can do. I read the whole thing on my way home in the bus and I realized that I was quite a slow reader. This made me jealous of my brother who could read big, fat books in just hours. True, it depends on the interest but also on the fact that his reading habit was longer than mine. Way longer. And it’s this jealousy that led to me reading all my brother’s books and wanting more. I spent all summer with my brother reading and shopping for books, which made him happier than ever.
Today, as a business student and and literature lover, I stand tall with my very own bookstore, called Adopt Books Here! And I’m not sure who’s more proud: My brother or I. This ‘adoption of books’ theory was introduced by book lovers all over the world. So, it wouldn’t be fair on my part to take credit for it. But my brother and I loved it so much that we decided to ‘adopt’ the idea. Along with fresh, crisp new books, second hand books, which are usually neglected, or which are thrown away, are also sold, since my first book was also a second handed one.
On Saturday evenings, the whole store and its costumers engage in some sort of event: be it a book club meeting, workshops, reading to the blind/old, or even book launches. On one such evening, my brother and I had attended the launch of a debut author’s children’s book. After the event, we were closing up when someone yelled at us from behind, asking us not to. He got down from his bike and ran up to us. He was a little older than me, I guessed, and I felt a pang of familiarity. He resembled Ajay from Ajay Adventures! Like, a lot. He said, “I need to buy a signed copy of that newly launched book.”
I was about to answer when my brother spoke up. “Sorry, we’re closed. We open at 9 tomorrow morning. You can come and buy one then.”
“No, no, no, no, no. I really, really need one.” He insisted. “It’s my niece’s birthday, and I promised her that I would get her that book. I want this book to be her first. Please. I don’t care how much it costs. I just want one.” My brother and I are excellent at reading each other’s expressions. And I’m excellent at giving him dirty looks. So, at last he gave in. Instead of opening the doors for him, I fished my signed copy of that book and handed it to the biker. He stared at me in amazement as he took the book. He gazed at it for a moment and then looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you. It means everything to me.” And as he reached his pocket for his wallet, I said, “Please, don’t. It’s a gift.” And he asked me to sign the book, along with the author’s signature. “I’ll make sure my niece remembers you.” He smiled and left with a satisfied look on his face. I left the place with a happy feeling and a nice memory.
That was the first book I owned that I gave for adoption. And it was the best feeling ever.