“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.”
– Henry Ward Beecher
Here is a conversation that warmed my heart. Gave me a good chuckle, it did! It took place between Ms M (she is 4-1/2) and her grandmother. They had gone to visit a friend who lived at my old neighbourhood and since it was quite a distance away, my mum decided to take a taxi home. She decided to tease Ms M a little…
Jiddah (pretending to grumble): Hmph… you know it’s all because of you that I have to spend so much money today.
Marz: How come?
Jiddah: Well you see, normally I would take a bus or train, but you said you were tired so here we are in the taxi. It’s a lot more expensive by cab you know.
Marz (somewhat apologetically): Yes, I know.
Jiddah: Didn’t Aunty give you a prezzie just now? She gave you $10, didn’t she?
Marz: Yes… (long pause) … oh! Do you mean *I* have to pay the taxi fare?
Jiddah: And why not?
Marz: But Jiddah… I HAVE to save my money…
Jiddah: Whatever for?
Marz: I HAVE to save so I can buy BOOKS for MY CHILDREN![Books photo from Pexels]
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. (Maybe there weren’t that many good ones in my time? I don’t know…) 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.
I have vivid memories of that store and when I found an old picture of it online (see above), I was transported!
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 Marz 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 Marz – 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 Marz, 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.