Books. Since birth, I have seen them as a part of my house. The drawing-room walls were adorned by books written by my grandfather (a national level award-winning Bengali writer) and the other shelves filled with other books. There were books under the table, in a closet behind the sofa and even in his bedroom. They were like oxygen in the air. Omnipresent, not necessarily always noticed, but an integral and important part of life.
I was in Nursery 2 when a note arrived for my parents from school. Next week there will be a story reading class. Each student is to carry one storybook. And they were to read that in the class.
One would think it was easy for my parents. There were so many books available at home. Just grab one of the children’s books and send the daughter. Of course with my grandfather being a prolific children’s author that would have been even easier.
But, the old man said a firm no. As per him none of the hundreds of books in the house met the age criteria. So off he went to college street the next morning after having the lunch menu for his breakfast, in anticipation that the book hunting might need an entire day.
Well, he was not wrong. I came back from school at 3 o’clock. He still hadn’t returned from his mission. I do not remember when he returned but I do remember the book he brought. The Sly Fox and the Red Hen.
Apparently, he went from store to store, sat down, read the stories and ultimately after thorough scrutiny zeroed down on this book. A light book with bright colors and all 3 letter words. It was love at first sight.
I practiced with my grandfather, reading it in the evening and soon was ready with my small weapon.
The much anticipated day came and during that coveted period, the teacher announced to bring out our respective books. And I was crestfallen. Everyone in the class had brought ‘big’ books. More words, fewer pictures. My book was so tiny in comparison. The initial excitement frizzled.
Then the reading session began. Roll no 1, Roll no 2, roll no 3. Each tried for a few minutes and then gave up. Apparently, all those books were not ‘age appropriate’. Suddenly the teacher noticed my book. It wasn’t my turn though. With the surname ‘sen’ and roll numbers arranged alphabetically my turn was much later. But, my book got an early chance.
The story reading class was a big success. Finally, the whole class read a single book. The Sly fox and the Red hen. This is the story of my first book which was perhaps the first book of many in my class.
I graduated from this book to fairy tales and then Bengali books pretty soon. But, I will keep that story for another day.
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Sreeparna Sen is a Computer Engineer, working in a Bank and finds her solace in writing. She has authored the book Tales of Wizardencil and is a part of more than 10 anthologies including an international project Until Dawn. To name a few other published anthologies are Hawk’s Nest, Macabre Tales, Blood Runs Cold, Route 13 – Highway to Hell, Love in Trying Times, Airavata and Sharing Lipstick. She has recently published her first non-fiction book Tilottama At A Glance about the city of joy, Kolkata. You can follow her website at www.wizardencil.com.
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