Growing up on heroes

Reading about literary crushes of celebrities in a weekly edition of my favourite newspaper, took me down my memory lane. Growing up in a very small town in Andhra Pradesh, with no library around, my heroes were from Chandamaama stories. The one that I liked the most as a child was ‘pattu vadalani Vikramarkudu’ (determinant Vikramarka).

My sister Usha and I loved to read magazines that dad bought for us. Our dream forever was to be locked in a room with lots of magazines like Chandamaama, Bommarillu etc., with every day having 100 hours instead of 24. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the only thing we do is reading, reading  and reading?” is a question she would ask me every very often. We loved going to grandma’s place in the neighbouring Karnataka because my uncle subscribed to every daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly magazines in Kannada. It was our love for reading which made us learn Kannada on our own and helped in quenching that thirst as well.

Later switched to historical ones like Krishnadevaraya, Vishnuvardhana, Chandragupta Mourya as I got introduced to these great rulers of India in the curriculum. These were not only great warriors and kind administrators but also scholars in various arts like poetry, music, dance etc. Being an art lover, my fascination for them grew even more because they encouraged and supported fine arts. When we migrated to Chitradurga in Karnataka, my sister and I became voracious readers thanks to the district library. Much later did I start reading literature written in English; that too started with the juvenile collection. As a teenager, I very much wanted to be ‘A little princess’ Sara Crewe. I loved Sara’s indomitable spirit and her imaginative nature. I dreamt about going to magnificent libraries.

It was a blessing when all these dreams came true as I furthered my academic studies and had access to big libraries. I loved the university libraries and the public library system in the US. By the time I came to the classics like Gone with the wind, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice etc., it was time to see or nurture the hero’s traits I loved in my real life hero.

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