Friday, April 01, 2011

When words come alive!

I have mentioned time and again on this blog about my love of reading and how voraciously I read- any and everything that comes my way. I have always loved reading and read a lot since I was a little kid. Inevitably, this informed my world view. Also, since I read mostly fiction and romance, I have to admit that I have always held a very rosy view of the world. This has led to not occasional disillusionment as well. Still, I prefer to keep my rosy world view intact. It has not been difficult, try as I might, I can never be cynical. I have deep enduring belief in the goodness of this world (though unfortunately, this has not borne true for me in the last few years).

Anyway, I'm digressing. Today, I wanted to talk about how this incessant reading made me familiar with the world outside of India. It aroused in me a desire to see the world. One of my biggest reasons to come to the US was that I wanted to see the world. Mujhe duniya dekhni thhi! And I did. I have not traveled as much as I would have wanted, but its a good start. I've lived and experienced stuff outside of the narrow proscribed path of a good bhartiya naari :) I am happy I got the chance to see a bit of the world!

As a fond reader, an inevitable book that one reads while growing up is "The Diary of a Young Girl", Anne Frank's diary. I read it at a time when my age was very similar to Anne's at the time she was writing the diary. I could relate to her teenage angst and pain. The very real fear of death in the book. Often I tried to imagine her and the small attic the two families were hidden in, the everyday challenges and the constant shadow of fear. The picture remained in my head. Since that age I always cherished the desire to see the house, though it was mostly just another pipe dream.

Then a little more than an year ago I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam, and I went to the Anne Frank Huis there. I saw the secret entrance to their hideout, hidden behind a bookshelf. The two small rooms that Anne Frank's family lived in. And the other rooms of Peter's family. The water closet (which they could never use during the day). The darkened windows. The rooms were small, suffocating and claustrophobic. With no daylight allowed in. I think that seeing Anne Frank's house was an experience, since I think after reading the book one can never forget it. Especially since I read it at such an impressionable age.

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It was literally a thought come alive for me. I could never have imagined as a small girl of twelve living in a small town in India that I would get to see Anne's house. I'm profoundly grateful for the chance. And I hope I can get many more such chances, when more books and words come alive for me!

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