“Sayali, you do know that this is just a story, right?”
“Duh uh! N.O.! It isn’t just a story. It has real people, with lives and everything, and real things happening to them. Why would you say that!”
But this response was just inside my head. Usually, all that came out was a “yes, I do know that” with a smile, and a hope that the person would just leave me alone with my story.
We often see these Facebook memes and graphics about readers, and reading, and books, and such things. Like most items in that genre, they also seem unnecessarily dramatic, pretentiously poetic and often filmy. I agree, sometimes they are. But not always. There are those of us who have spent our childhoods sitting in a corner, reading. There are those who lost track of time while chasing the end of a book. There are those who read in the car, under the blanket, on the the dinner table, read ALL THE TIME! Those whose truest friends were characters from the books they would read, and so, they didn’t need actual ones.
What good did that do to us? Well I don’t know whether good, or bad, or something else; but the learnings were plenty. Faster Fene taught me that just because I am a kid does not mean that I cannot do cool things. Chingee assured me that I was not the only hasty and sometimes lost kid around. Harry Potter, and the many books in the series of magical mat and magical door affirmed that there’s magic, somewhere in the world. The teenage novels indicated that there is a possibility of happy endings.
And this is what the books did! Maybe everything in life does not have a happy ending. But we have to believe that there is good at the end. Humans are often anxious and mostly curious about the next step, the last step. Books gave us a chance to go through the entire story and see the end, before it had to happen in our real lives. In a sense, it showed us the bigger picture. A perspective on what is important in the greater sense, an illustration of relevance of things in the longer run, a psychic vision of what tomorrow may be; if I may say so. No, I of course did not realize this back then. But today I do! Today I realize that incessantly reading books during childhood helped me understand the importance of looking at a story keeping the subplots and affiliated characters in mind. It showed me how lives are interconnected. And so what, if the characters are fictitious and the stories made up? With so much life in them, good stories so beautifully walked the thin line between real and surreal, that there weren’t two worlds anymore.