I've been trying for sometime now, to get my nine-year old cousin, Dhruv, to get into the habit of reading. I know he loves listening to stories. And he likes it when I read to him. Yet for some reason he never picks up a book on his own. I find this a little difficult to understand because for me reading has always been an activity of pure pleasure. When my brother and I were little we were both crazy bookworms. I remember reading tons of Enid Blyton. And like too much of anything, it had its effects. We used to launch grand expeditions to find fairies hidden under toadstools. Nothing seemed impossible. When my brother told me that he had gone to the moon on his bike, I believed him. It never occurred to me that he didn't even own an actual bike! Those were the after effects of reading Enid Blyton.
Reading Tom sawyer and Huckleberry Finn stirred up in me the urge for adventure. In fact, sometimes my brother and I used to wake up in the morning and decide that it was a fine day for an adventure (we even spoke like that). Then we'd pack a snack (usually an apple because that's what Tom and Huck used to take with them) and set out for an Adventure. Another time, I read a story about a boy who decided to make up a word. I can't remember the name of the book or the author, but it inspired me to make up my own words. And that's how I came up with 'shippity' and 'flungy', among other silly words. I'm not sure which book it was that inspired my brother and me to invent this game. But it was the most fun game ever! The story revolved around two sisters with a lot of children. Since I was the quintessential bossy older sister in real life I made him my sister in the game. And the reason we had so many children was because we didn't want any of our stuffed toys to feel excluded. Our husbands had died at war – honestly, who cares about husbands when you're little? And the easiest way to get them out of the story is to have them killed at war! Then there was this cunning but skilled kidnapper/ghost who was after our children and we had to run away. Pronto! The beginnings of an adventure! This was how the game always began. The rest we invented as the game progressed. It was our favourite game! We spoke in exotic languages that only we could understand. We saw people that no one else could see and we travelled where no one else travelled. We probably appeared to be quite a schizophrenic pair. But that's what make-believe was to us. And because of it we were hardly ever bored. I was only able to play this game with my brother, who read as much as I did. With other friends we did other things that were fun, usually games of house, cooking, hide n' seek, catch, and sword fighting. Nothing as creative and imaginative, though. Now I don't expect Dhruv to play the same games we did. But I do wish that the time will come soon when he will want more than Doraemon, Beyblades, and Power Rangers.