I used to be a voracious reader. Book, magazines, newspapers, flyers, English text books. They were all the same to me - material to read. I don't know when this began exactly. It is such a surprising thing that we never can remember the exact moment or period of time, when something good happens. I think I got into the reading habit around my 4th and 5th standards/grades.

I had moved into a new school for my fourth grade. I remember one incident very clearly. Somebody used the word "wound" and I had no inkling about what that meant. I did know injury, injured and other words, but not "wound". I couldn't even spell it. I managed to find all about the word later, probably from a friend or my teacher. I am pretty convinced that it was this incident that drove me towards reading.

Fortunately, the new school (though in a very remote town) had a good enough library for my age and it was open to us. That's where it all started. We weren't allowed to take the books home, initially. So every evening, after school hours, a group of us would crowd into the cramped room and read on and on. Of course, at that age it was Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews and other kid adventures. We were so much a part of the library itself that we started to help out with arranging books and running small errands for the library. Voila! A select few were allowed to take the books home. This put me into high gear. As soon as I finished my homework, I would descend down into the books. Nothing could wrench me away. I would read while eating, when watching television and on the bed.

I spent hours poring over the newspaper everyday. I read every column, every news-bit. I would exhaust the English text books of friends and cousins. That was how bad the reading fever was.

I drove my mom crazy. She couldn't believe that somebody could concentrate so much on reading. Oftentimes, I wouldn't hear her talking to me and this would agitate her to no end. And I had this habit of reading in whatever light I had available. Everyone warned me that my eyesight would be in trouble. But I heeded none. Books remained a major part of my life until I was out of school. I had by then progressed to Stephen King, Frederick Forsyth and even a few Shakespeare's. My major interest had been in everything remotely related to detective work - spies and detectives clearly the favourites.

I discovered horror/thriller quite by accident. My first horror movie "Evil Dead" left me feeling nauseated if nothing else. I couldn't stand seeing a pencil digging into somebody's face. But somehow, I convinced myself to pick up "The Exorcist", the book. This was during a vacation stay at a cousin's place. He introduced me to a rather good lending library close to home and I immediately took out a membership. I visited the library every four days, clutching back 5 or 6 books each time. "The Exorcist" was a huge volume and it fascinated me. Ofcourse, I wasn't able to get myself to read the book at night. That book took me into the realm of the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I don't know which my first King was. Nevertheless, I remain to this day a huge fan, a big-big fan of Stephen King.

During my days in engineering college, I was on and off the reading wagon. The glory days of rapid-fire reading were over. It wasn't until I got out of college that I took up a few "serious" books - Pirsig, Ayn Rand and the likes. Philosophy, if you please.

Here I am now. A sober reader. Not a book-junkie, but with a definite liking towards books. Yes, reading have been a great companion.

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