A couple of years ago I was watching this news on Indian channel where the anchor was interviewing this young boy of 12 years who was doing his computer course in college that was even tougher for guys of their early twenties. But it was easy for the boy to do that course in college. The anchor wanted to find out why the boy is so exceptionally brilliant and that too at that tender age.The boy had a sister of 7 years old girl, who had already completed her SLC equivalent from India. In an effort to trying to track down the parents being well educated it turned out, that the boy belonged to a lower middle class family, meaning uneducated parents.
Because they were just too young to ask what you do to hone your brain, she asked him, “what do you eat to be so brainy like this, I mean what is your favourite food ? ” The boy was very docile, decent regardless of exceptional achievement in school and college at that age replied very meekly that his favourite food is ‘khichadi’. This particular food is not associated with any thing that is going to make your memory gain or adding something essential in brain. I think, khichadi only fills your stomach, when you are hungry like a ghost, nothing more than that. He coming from lower middle class family, made him so humble and unpretentious too; as they say all the gifted people like him would be. The interview after that got only funnier for me, when the news anchor was trying to make the news out of nothing. Especially not knowing how to stretch that news in any better way.
There is this one saying goes on in so many ways, as it is easy to mold it in any way it fits to the taste of writer. Some say, you are what you eat, and some say you are what you read. But recently my friend told me one more version of the same line you are what you do. I reacted that I have never ever heard this term then he gave me his personal experience on this matter. How a relative of his was working in America, flaunting her money and diamond and property here, but she had not made doing something very respectful work. What she used to do was very menial work and she was in touch with those who did made their living doing same menial work. As he puts it, “the words she used in her lines was just scary, purely because the people she interacted in her daily life.”
As a child, if there was anything to keep my overactive brain to focus on something, all I needed; was to do reading. But, I was growing up in Bal Mandir. I don't want to say I did not get a chance to read books, by saying so, books meant all the romantic Indian novels, which my best friend Bobby used to borrow it from her classmates. I loved reading it as it gave me that desired to read anything that was available, I did not care what it was ?
Don't get me wrong, Bal Mandir did have libraries, but it was not for us. Those staff, they really acted strange and treated unbelievable at times; beyond my brain really can come up with convincing answer to that kind of behaviour to us. The Incharge who used to take care of this particular room enjoyed shooing us. That beautiful lady, whose name is Geeta Basnet just became so ugly after her shoo shoo act; as if we were not the human children. But, why I am even wasting my time talking about they treating us like that, not like human children whenever they saw us near the hall, that was very common behaviour then.
Bal Mandir also did have many rooms that was closed for many years and nobody entered in those rooms. Dark rooms, due to closed doors and windows was scattered with books and books all over the floors and stacked books randomly, was just a place for me to visit. Oh, I am sure that you don't get confused, when I use the word visit. Honestly speaking I [we] had to sneak in those room via windows only that too without any torchlights. some of the rooms was so dark it was not easy to figure out which book is good to read and pick up and those dirt filled books, half of them were so damaged from corners of it; were in fact gave me the chance to travel around the world, without leaving my room. But, when I look back it seems to me that those sneaking, just paid me so much knowledge. I did get a chance to read so many classic children's story books, that otherwise would not have been made available to us. See stealing is not bad at times, specially when you are going for books.
Okay, I have to admit it now, given a chance to reverse my childhood to change one thing only, the one thing I would like to change would be, books and lots of good books I would like to add in my childhood than anything else. Yet, it seems that I did get a fair share of books reading than some of the people I did interacted later in my life. It seems that its purely individual interest when it comes to reading or spending one's spare time.
This just reminded me one small incident. Just a couple of years ago, I made one small list of children’s book for a Children’s home here and handed it over to the Madam S*, Chairman of the children home. Due to sensitivity of the case I am just not using her name and that children home also. Total cost of the book did not even cross more than Rs. 5000; still her response and unwillingness to spend that much money just stunned me. Why they are so unwilling to spend that much money for couple of good books for about 100 children ? Its not their money to give that kind of radical decision for something as simple and inexpensive like classic children's book. One of those suggested list also contained a VOW’s [Voice of women] monthly subscription to the children’s home and an old copy of Elle, Vogue, or Cosmopolitan. It so happened that, madam S. son seem to be a regular reader of VOW magazine.
I would like to clear here one thing I wanted only one copy of any years old version of Elle, Vogue or Cosmopolitan. That kind of magazine teach so many things to growing up girls around the world.
But then I was even more shocked to hear her response; when she was not ready to provide even the old collections of her son, to the children home. It was not just she, who disagreed with me to add good books in children home’s library for children, but it was her brain also who agreed with me. Opps, sorry his name is Manish Shrestha, who went on to such length to explain to me, why its not a good idea to keep those books in children’s library.
That lady, who shooed us when I was just a child, whenever she saw us nearby library must have thought books were definitely not for us. It's pretty interesting to understand, even trying to read human mind, and their behaviour during situation like that. And twenty plus years after the response of Madam S, who was in the management of NCO when I was growing up Bal Mandir still force me to think hard.
Why they think we should not be provided the easy access to books or in library ? Since when books and magazines are also part of somebody’s prestige ? What wrong reading some magazines that fall in expensive bracket ?
It is said that Japanese are the most healthiest in the universe; due to their eating habit but brainy people are around the globe and I strongly believe we are more than what we eat. We are what we read, we are defined by the brain not by bread. When I look back it seems absolutely true to me.
*Madam S. was in the management team of Bal Mandir and I know her since I was about 10 year or younger than that.