A book can change your life. But not all books.
One book that changed my life was Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire. How is that possible? I will tell you.
I was a voracious reader as a child. The word bookworm was created for me. Why book, I would even read what is written behind every shampoo bottle, food packet or even a wrapper I could pick up from the road.
I wanted to read everything and know everything.
Most of the books I bought as a kid would cost Rs 20 or 30. The stores near my school started stocking up on story books because I will come and buy. Also my classmates influenced by me started buying story books.
Those books built a reading habit. I read a lot of translations of classical European literature. I now realise that a lot of my character was built thanks to reading those books.
But still those books didn’t change my life.
At the age of 14, I read in a Bengali newspaper about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Apparently, it was the highest selling book in the world at the time, and I decided I had to read it.
I convinced my dad to buy it. He asked me how much it would cost. I had no idea. We decided to go to college street, a famous place in Kolkata where there are thousands of bookshops and you can get any book you want.
Once we arrived there, at our standard shop, they told us they don’t have the book but will get in a jiffy. And when it came, the price was Rs. 800 and something.
We were shocked. How can a book cost this much?
I was crestfallen. I looked at my father to see what he will do.
He took out his wallet and bought it. He just bought it.
My father used to earn about 10,000 per month if I am right. But he bought me a book worth 800 because I really wanted it.
I don’t always give enough credit to my father for who I have become.
But anyway, once I got home, I started reading the book. It was very difficult to read. I could not understand most of the words. A lot of sentences I could only guess the meaning of. However, I could get a part of the story. But by the time I finished reading the first chapter, I wanted to read more.
It took me hours to read the first chapter though, and that was about 30 pages from what I remember.
Next day I bunked school to read more. It took me a week to finish the book because I had to read really slowly, guessing words and their meaning.
Say the word yell. I didn’t know it. But when I read it many times in the book, I began to pick up what it could possibly mean. Same for grin. Or gritting one’s teeth.
In the next two years, I read this same book a total of 30 times. It was a very rewarding experience. Every time I read it, I could learn new words and understand new parts of the story that I didn’t understand earlier.
And my English drastically improved. I became the guy in school (vernacular medium – Bengali) who had apparently formidable knowledge of English.
The first breakthrough in my English knowledge was because my dad bought me a very expensive book he wasn’t even sure I will read. And I created a world out of it.
Would I make it into an NLU if he didn’t buy me a Harry Potter book that day? I am not sure. That step was a critical turning point.
Could he predict that I will squeeze so much juice out of that investment? I don’t think so.
But he trusted me.
I hope you trust your loved ones, or yourself, when it comes to making such investments. Your destiny is beckoning. Don’t hesitate.
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