My friendship with words was forged long ago, when I couldn’t tell a letter from a digit. My father loves to read and thankfully, because of that, my house had a healthy supply of paperbacks and magazines and comics for me to tinker around with. Being the only toddler in the family, and a most restless and fidgety one at that, an old house whose drawers and cabinets were stuffed with ageing books was quite a treasure trove.
I grew fond of books, too. I was delighted when, with the start of school and language lessons, the secrets that their pages held opened up to me little by little. With each turn of the page I could enter a new land, make friends with its strange people, feel their fears, share their anxieties. I went wherever Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond and Agatha Christie and Satyajit Ray went. I lived with Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul. I felt grateful to J. K. Rowling for showing me a whole new world, just as I felt thankful to Lewis Carroll for taking me down the rabbit hole. I was glad that Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen could take me back to their time. And I shall always remember Harper Lee for introducing me to Mr Atticus Finch. And then there was Murakami’s Japan and Hosseini’s Afghanistan. And the poets – the poets were born wanderers. Much like they liked to pace the corridors of their own mind if they had nowhere else to go, their words began to stay with me long after I read them. From Barry Louis Polisar’s rhymes to the dark and brooding stanzas by Kamala Das, there was a little of each one of them with me.
And so it is, that I ache now for new travels each day. Perhaps it is because I grew up with these travelers who made my childhood enchanted. And perhaps because I grew up with them, I also know that travel is what travel does – expands the boundaries of the mind, pushes its limits farther and farther each time. And often, it relies on the little pebbles of words to mark newer horizons.
So I have set out walking and occasionally, I try to kick the odd pebble home.