From a writer to her readers
‘I hope words open the world for you’
My dear readers,
I have a confession to make. As a child, I was not a reader. Picking up a book for “fun” was like hitting the pause button on life. Basically, it was something that had to be done as part of our family time. Just before dinner, we all sat down and each of us read a book. I couldn’t wait for the hour to end so that I could start talking again.
But then, one day, something happened. I remember the exact moment, the exact feeling even now, years and years later.
I had picked up a book called Born Free by Joy Adams. I was drawn into the book, much like Alice down the rabbit hole. It was a book that I wanted to be in, to be part of. This was the life I wanted to live, these were the people I wanted to be. The book is the first part of a trilogy about a family who adopt a lion cub and then set her free. I laughed and wept and fantasised. After I’d read the trilogy, I wanted — no — needed to read more. And so I did. And I haven’t stopped ever since.
What is it about reading that hooks people so much? You know the answer to that, you’ve read it in a hundred posters in the library. But to me, it is the ability to achieve every single dream and do every single thing, go to every single place that I want to, from the comfort of my own home. But not in a hit-the-pause-button-on-life kind of way. More in a get-into-the-skin-of-the-character, live-the-world-of-words kind of way.
That’s what got me into writing, too. I wanted to be an actress, a big movie star with a paparazzi tail. I also wanted to work with wild animals — it could be crocodiles and snakes. Just something, anything, more interesting than the life I was leading. I tried everything — did an acting course, spoke to the zoo director and wildlife rescue people. But no one was giving me a job. I decided to try to write about the life I wanted. It turned out to be quite a good story. While I was writing it, I realised that I was living it. And it was a really thrilling experience. I believed myself, and when others read it, they believed it, too. So I wrote some more. And more. I knew that this was what I was born to do.
And yes, I know what you’re probably thinking. That you’d rather live the adventure than read about it. I get that, I think so as well.
So here’s the thing. Now that I am a writer with a capital W and I have, well, not a paparazzi tail, but I have had a photo-shoot just this morning. And there is a young man who is called Paro because he loved my books as a child. I am travelling the world now, I’m off to Sweden to launch a book I’ve written with a Swedish writer and I’ve performed stories with a Zulu writer and an Eskimo. I’m living the best possible life. When I look back, I realise that words got me here. Words I read, words I wrote and words I dreamed of.
Words opened the world for me. I hope they will for you, too.
Happy Children’s Day, my dear readers (and those I hope will read me soon), I wish the best of words to you.
Love and pyaar,