It seems LONG ago now. I don’t remember a lot of things. My Mom tells me that I rarely created any trouble at home as a child. She tells me that all she had to do was to give me a measuring jar and a ball and I could be engaged with those two for hours. I would put the ball inside the measuring jar and bounce it and keep repeating it for a number of hours.
The Long Hair
One thing I vividly remember of my early years was that I had very long hair until I was about five years old. My parents wanted to give my hair to our family deity. I am guessing here but I think we sort of missed the time window in the first couple of years to do that. So, I had to wait until I turned five to get my long hair removed. I was probably the only boy who had such long hair. For whatever reason I didn’t think it was odd or anything because of the way my parents treated it – just as a “matter of fact” way. My hair used to be tied with a band and with my running around, the band would get loose. I had never figured out how to tie the band myself. So I would run back to my Mom every few minutes and ask her to tighten the band so that my hair will stay in one place. I had such long hair that once my Mom even dressed me like a girl and took me to a studio and got a portrait. People would not believe that it was me in that photograph.
It was my first lesson in being comfortable being different. I remember my friends would make fun of my long hair. It probably bothered me a couple of times but once I stopped paying attention to that, everything seemed normal.
An obsession that would not go away…
I started reading books when I was about five years old. First, it was just an interest, then it was a fascination and after some time, it became an obsession. I don’t think I read any useful books at that early age. It started with all the children’s periodicals. I still remember the names of those Kannada periodicals – “Chandamama,” “Bombemane,” “Balamitra” and “Putani”. I would also read the children’s section from a few other periodicals. I don’t remember the names of all the magazines except “Prajamatha” and “Sudha”. My goal was simple – the day magazines arrived at my home, I had to finish reading them end-to-end. Sometimes this would mean a fight with my brother as he wanted to read them too. Being the younger one, usually I would win even if it meant that I would cry to get sympathy from my parents. I quickly graduated to reading novels and I would read anything that I would get my hands on. I must have read a few hundred books by the time I was nine. Still I don’t think any of them were useful books. It started with “Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” Series and it went up to Earl Stanley Gardner (of Perry Mason courtroom dramas). I would be so glued to them that I would skip a meal sometimes just so that I am not disturbed in the middle. It it meant that I had to hide behind the table or under a chair to complete the novel, I would not hesitate to do that.
Funny things would happen when it comes to reading. I didn’t like dog-earing books so I would use anything and everything as a bookmark. For instance, I was reading in the kitchen and used a tomato as a bookmark. You can imagine what would have happened after that.
You could only borrow two books from the local library. The library was about four miles from my home. I used to walk to the library and borrow two books. Once I borrowed two books and walked back reading one of the books. Halfway through I finished reading it and I was in a dilemma. If I start reading the other book now, I might finish part of it and I will only have half a book to read. So I went back to the library and exchanged the book to a new one. I walked back reading the next book and I almost finished reading it by the time I reached home. I was in a dilemma again but I was really tired walking back and forth and dropped the idea of walking back to the library.
My first book (in the making)
Most of the books I used to read were spy thrillers and after reading a few hundred you can start playing the guessing game in some ways. Halfway through the story you can make up your own ending and see if the story matches your imagination. I was not an expert on that so I would get it right once in a while. When I was around nine I thought I can write my own novel. I had read a few hundred of them so I thought how difficult would this be – I can always try and if it does not work, I would just stop.
So thus began my new adventure of writing a novel and I announced it to my small world. My parents thought I was a bit crazy but my grades were good so there was nothing to complain. They thought this was a game that I was playing and it would end sooner than later. My friends thought I was not serious. There was nothing I had done before to prove them otherwise. I had not even written an article for our school magazine. So why should anyone believe?
In a way all this helped as I had a free hand and there was no big expectation of me about the novel. There was no peer pressure of any sort. I would write a few pages everyday stealing printing paper from my Dad’s table. It took me around six months to write a novel that was about two hundred pages.
The moment I finished writing the book, I was relieved. I also thought that now that I finished writng the book, it should be super-easy to get this published. After all, printing and packaging should be easier than writing the book is what I thought.
Boy, was I wrong on that..
The story continues — As a Teenager