I confess, I am not a library person. I like OWNING books and reading them over and over again.
My father encouraged my siblings and I to read … and we read voraciously. When our hobby became an extremely expensive one, he didn’t turn to the library to feed our appetite for reading. He took us to a quaint second-hand bookstore in a quiet housing estate in Singapore called Serangoon. It was a small outfit with wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling book shelves. The owner set up his well-worn desk outside where several baskets filled with even more used books and magazines were placed. I loved trips to that store.
When my daughter was born, I used to get completely stressed out, worrying about how to entertain her. Motherhood did not come naturally to me – I had to grow into it and I confess, it took a while before I felt comfortable with being a mother. There were days when I was at a complete loss – Itsy Bitsy Spider had been done to death so what was there to do for the remaining 8 hours till her dad came home? I was (am?) a bookworm who didn’t like dealing with people, what more babies, so… I did what I did best.
Ms Muffet must have been about a month and a half when I read to her “No David!” by David Shannon. It just about blew me away when she paid attention so I kept reading. I joined book clubs and when we left the USA for Singapore, I kept the supply up. I had worried that living in Pakistan would mean fewer books for Ms Muffet – she was used to getting some 15 to 20 new books a month.
But, alhamdulillah, I was delighted to find second-hand bookstores galore. I’ve been able to get a wide variety of books for Ms Muffet, from fiction to science to geography at a fraction of their normal prices.
My daughter is an avid reader, ma shaa Allah, and trips to the bookstores have been frequent so these days, I can’t help but think about my late father. I remember how he would look on indulgently as we rummaged for our favourite reads.
I remember how it was he who planted and nurtured my passion for books.
I am glad I am passing it on.