Dr Suess once said that “Adults are just obsolete children.” So how do you judge people? Duh Uh, obviously by checking out their reading habits as kids.
Were they the nerdy textbooks kinda people or were they the dreamy eyed romantics? Did racy mysteries catch their imagination or did they prefer to keep company with pirates, werewolves and wizards? Were they reading about the country- past, present and future or did they choose to let the fairies take over? Confession time!!! INDIAreads caught up with a bunch of very grown up authors – their book, She Writes has just been published by Random House India – and asked them to take a trip down memory lane so that we could meet the child in them….Here’s what we found out!!!
Favourite children’s book – the one that got you hooked?
Amrita Saikia: The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton. The characters in them seemed absolutely real to me. As a little girl, I secretly prayed that I would be sent to a boarding school where I could have fun like those characters. Alas, this wish of mine was never fulfilled. (All you boarding school kids out there, stop gloating!!! Tell us, is life in a hostel just like Blyton told us it would be????)
Jyotsna Jha: Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson. The story revolves around a young boy who finds a secret map to a lost treasure. A gang of pirates know about the map too and our young hero must beat them in getting there first. Can he do it? Read this thrilling adventure novel to find out.
(And you thought little girls just enjoyed fairytales!!! We are as adventurous as any of you out there, maybe more )
Chitralekha Sarkar: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It was the ultimate adventure, full of pirate ships and mermaids in lagoons and other exotic situations. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson came a close second. Unfortunately Walt Disney never made a cartoon feature on Treasure Island like his wonderful “Peter Pan”. (Uh oh…Disney Studios, are you listening???)
Geeta Sundar: I love Alice in wonderland—everything about it, and still go back to it. It has the kind of imagination that catches a child’s fancy, a lovely story, wonderful characters and outstanding poetry-‘You are old father William’, Tweedledum and Tweedledee’ being my favourites. (oh Gee!!!)
The Character you identify yourself with??? (Now this one had us listening very very carefully!!! So, no smart quips here)
Geeta: Alice of course, from Alice in Wonderland!!!
Chitralekha: Peter Pan, the boy who never had to grow up, who went on fantastic adventures with a band of friends and always won!
Anisha Bhaduri: Apu from Bibhutibhushan Banyopadhyay’s Pather Panchali
Jyotsna: Huck in Huckleberry Finn. I could at once identify with the vagrant boy going through the joys and pains of growing up and coming to terms with the complications of the adult world.
Amrita: I always envisioned myself as the intelligent and brave-hearted Nancy Drew and imagined myself intelligently defeating the villains and solving all those mysteries.
MMM…MMM. That was interesting! Now you know why we insisted on children’s books!!! And here comes the final one…Your Bookscapade – the book adventure that got you into trouble Come on, ‘fess up!!!!
Sheela Jaywant: I was in trouble for reading all the time. I didn’t like studying text books, but story-books… i lived them at mealtimes, loo-times, all the time. I day-dreamed my teenage away!
Geeta: Well this is a confession that I am not going to enjoy. When we were in tenth standard, there was a small library besides the big one, that was right in front of our class, and it had a small gap in the glass through which a girl with thin hands could take out a book. Since I had the thinnest hands, I was elected to put my hands in and take out books. We read them and put them back but were found out. When asked, I confessed, but the other girls sportingly joined me and we had to kneel for an hour outside the mother principal’s office as a punishment! (Ouch ouch!!!)
Anisha: A Harold Robbins novel at age 12/13, deemed a most inappropriate read at that age. (Boy, were you asking for trouble!!!) Fortunately, I grew up in a household where reading was encouraged and the children were expected to be responsible for what they read and how they developed their reading habits. (Talk of Luck!!!)
Amrita: It was one of the Sweet Valley High books that got me into trouble when I was in the tenth standard, a few months away from my board exams. I got hold of this book from one of my friends and hid it in between my textbooks. One night, after dinner, when I was sure that everyone had slept, I took out the book and began reading, pretending to study one of my textbooks. But I was a terrible actor and my mother, a strict parent. I was caught red-handed. A few stern words and glares ensured that I stayed away from all books apart from my course books till exams were over.
HA ha…now did you enjoy that one??? We asked them a bunch of other questions too. Check out their answers in our Children’s Special Newsletter this month. To get a copy, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
And a big thank you to these special authors for being so sporty and sharing their naughty and not-so-naughty moments with us.
For those of you who are curious to meet the wonderful women these girls have turned into, here’s a brief about them…
Apu: Currently the deputy news editor of The Statesman and its coordinator for Asia News Network (ANN), Apu or Anisha Bhaduri has completed over a decade in Journalism. She is also the first Indian woman to become a Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Fellow and was conferred the Pradyot Bhadra Young Journalist Award for Excellence by Pracheen Kala Kendra in 2011. In 2009, she won the first prize in a national literary contest for women writers organized by the British Council in India.
Huck or Jyotsna Jha belongs to Kolkata. She has an M.Phil in English Literature and has worked as a teacher, instructional designer, and editor.
Nancy Drew aka Amrita Saikia spent most of her childhood days in a small town called Nagaon in Assam. She attended the prestigious Cotton College in the city of Guwahati and graduated from Mount Carmel College. Currently, she is working as an editor in International Data Corporation. She likes to read books, write (mostly her blog posts), and paint during her leisure time. She is extremely passionate about food and loves experimenting with new dishes.
Sheela Jaywant has worked in a multi-specialty tertiary care hospital for many years and for half a decade in a five-star hotel. And in earlier avatars, as a librarian, teacher and UNICEF volunteer. As an author of three books, Quilted: Stories of middle-class India, Melting Moments, and The Liftman and Other Stories, as well as a columnist and translator, she found that creative writing couldn’t pay the bills. So she wrote three books of short fiction and did two translations alongside her day job.
Alice, better known as Dr Geeta Sundar began her career as a consultant in medicine at BL Kapoor Memorial hospital, Delhi. She has also done a course in medico-legal law. She is a regular contributor to Times Wellness as well as a corporate lecturer. Her published works include Health after Forty and A-Z of Bone Muscle and Joint Diseases. She has also written a work of fiction called Premier Murder League. She is both a consultant in medicine and a writer.
Peter Pan or Chitralekha was born and raised in South Mumbai. She has lived in Jamshedpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York and wandered the rest of the globe observing cultures. She is presently parked in New Delhi, trying to crystallize the lessons of a nomadic life.