The Building Blocks

Home Is Where Our Stories Are. A theme I have picked up from a Facebook Friend – Labyrinths. Today he wrote a piece after my own heart – about a book on English words. It brought to my mind my own precious books on this language.

I have four books in my collection. The first three are a set of books on grammar by Eckersley & Macaulay – from my middle school years. The fourth, of course, is the Wren & Martin! Through these four I have learnt to appreciate the intricacies of English grammar. Two of my English language teachers, who steered me through these books, are very special folk in my life. Indeed, we did not read the classics together; nor did we debate on philosophy. But they still gave me the best gift a child could ever receive – the love of words. They taught me to love the language purely for its beauty. During my brief stint trying to help a couple of youngsters through high school, I learnt that English is one of the most difficult languages to teach. My respect for these two teachers grew by leaps and bounds. As I have said to them, they lit the flame in me. They continue to be guiding lights.

Preceding these four books by a good few years, at an age when I was too young to appreciate their value, I was gifted three other treasures – The Child’s First Dictionary – a gift from a grand uncle, A Third Ladybird Book Of Nursery Rhymes – a gift from an aunt and a beautiful pop-up book – Sleeping Beauty – it is a piece of sculpture crafted out of paper –  a gift from an uncle I never got to know.

Following these early books many others came into my possession, mostly gifts from my parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, friends – dictionaries, a thesaurus, books on economics, the sciences, poetry, religion, and philosophy, some of the classics, some incredible works of fiction. I was introduced to every one from Enid Blyton to Charles Dickens. From Lynne Truss to Jasper Fforde. From P.G.Wodehouse to Georgette Heyer. And of course, the famous Indian children’s periodical Chandamama and comics Amar Chitra Katha. All of these and so many more are cherished possessions – each finding a place on my bookshelf and adding another story to my life!

I must have read at least one book in every known genre, or at the very least attempted to read one! Some I failed to comprehend. Many I failed to complete. Some I read over and over again. No-one who befriends a book is ever alone. I have a terrible memory – so do not ask me who said that! I rarely remember all the words of a quote or a poem, never mind a whole book, very often not even the author! But the flip side of this appalling memory is that every re-read is like a fresh adventure –  a bit like knowing vaguely where you are going but discovering and re-discovering meandering pathways and nuggets of gold between the first and last pages. I have the happy facility of not needing to judge the political correctness of an author. Every reader is given the opportunity to take away the best that an author offers. If the contents are not to my liking, I take pleasure in the crafting of the sentences! All I ask for is good English. I cannot abide shoddy writing or the abuse of words – neither modernism nor freedom of speech can be considered a license to rape the language!

I will live happily without creature comforts. But these books, these stories, words are indispensable to me. These, then, are the true building blocks of my home and me!