I hated school. When I was a 4 feet tall school kid, the library was the only exciting place in the entire school for me. We had one or two library periods for the entire week and were allowed to borrow one book. I would wait one week just for the library period hoping to bring a new book home. The teachers who were in charge of the library were my favourite teachers. Even though they were considered as library assistants, I am still going to use the word ‘teacher’ for them, because undoubtedly, they motivated me to learn from reading. As a kid, I cherished them and felt like they opened up another fascinating world for me. These two teachers would tell me which books to read and show me the latest books added to the library shelves each week. Until I graduated from the school, I went to the school library whenever I got the chance and these two teachers were always there.
When the school was still in session, I used to read secretly because I couldn’t wait to read what’s inside the book or find out what happened to these fictitious characters in stories. My parents would scold me because wherever I go, I would end-up grabbing something to read. I would not even throw a food wrapped paper without first reading both sides. I would read in the vehicle, during family events, at relatives’ houses and so on. The place didn’t bother me. As soon as I grabbed a piece of newspaper, a book or any kind of reading material, I would start reading it and be lost in my own little world. My parents thought that reading while people were around me was a rude and impolite act.
Growing up, my reading habits didn’t change at all. I still read books standing up, lying down. As long as I have a book, I am going to read it regardless of the conditions around me. The only difference is now my parents don’t tell me to put down the book even if people are around. They know that’s who I am. The people who know me are aware of my unconditional love for books and reading.
I was a reading maniac. I still am. I take books on vacation. If I am going to a nearby place, I carry a small magazine or a book in my handbag. My most prized possession is the collection of books that I own. I keep them neatly organized in my small personal library in my room which anyone is welcomed to visit and enjoy as they please. There’s no better place in the whole world than the little reading space I’ve created for myself.
Reading was an important part of my learning process. I don’t think I would have been a language teacher or the person that I am today if I had never liked reading. I look for opportunities to learn something new every day and reading helps me learn so much about life, people and the world in general. I am no Einstein and my knowledge cannot be compared to the legendary smart people at all, but the little knowledge I’ve gained in my life was a result of avid reading. I learned how to write through books and this blog is a result of it. Any writing skills I posses is a result of my reading. Reading is a part of me, a part of who I am. But where did all this craving for books stemmed from?
My first teachers, my mother and my father, taught me the letters on my ‘Akuru Kiyaweema’*** ceremony and they didn’t stop from there. My parents constantly helped me to learn, to read and persuaded me to take an interest in reading. My father always brought me new books and urged me to read. He would buy me many children newspapers with big letters and pictures. I would colour, read and spend time with these papers reading and enjoying the children stories in them. On the days I had fallen sick and couldn’t go to school, I would ask my parents to buy me a newspaper so I could read in my free time. I don’t remember a time they refused. Even when I was a grown-up, my father would still buy the newspapers that I loved reading. These little acts have had a big impact on my passion for reading.
With great confidence I can say that they were wise enough to lay the most important foundation for my education. They built the interest in me to read and learn and I am forever grateful for that.
Today, I am an English language teacher who helps young kids to improve their English language skills. I cannot thank my parents enough for what I have accomplished in life so far and for the education that I’ve been given. Without their guidance I would have never discovered my happy place; books.
*** Introduction to the Letters of the Alphabet, called the ‘Akuru Kiyaweema’ ceremony is a traditional custom in Sri Lanka. On an auspicious day and a time set according to the child’s horoscope, The ‘Akuru Kiyaweema’ ceremony takes place as a child reaches three years of age. On that special day, the mother, father or an educated person related to the child or the family, would teach the child his first letters, in the company of family and well-wishers.