‘The first book I ever read’… Hmm… That is a misleading topic as any that I could have for this little essay. It ought to be called the ‘First book I remember I ever read’ or to be more precise ‘The first book I ever read that I remember and that I consider a book’. But look at them they are ugly title for any essay, in fact they are so ugly that I myself would not read such an hideously titled essay if I ever got myself to write such an hideously titled essay. So let us stick with ‘The First Book I ever Read’ It may not be precise but it still is a better title.
The first book I ever read was an Enid Blyton Classic and I must thank my class mate, bench mate and then best friend who prefers to be called by the name Sam Rave much to my wry (Look who is talking) for introducing me the wonderful world of fantasy that the world of letters could erect. I still remember the tattered and much dilapidated book that he had in his hand one day. I still remember the musky aroma of the antique pages, its wonderfully faded shade and little termite ridden edges. That for me still is the genuine experience of reading. The torn covers and the crinkles that crisscrossed the illegible front cover. I remember asking him the book, I remember taking it home, I remember opening the book and I remember the aged smell of wisdom drowning me. That day I was lost to reality.
I went on to read every one of the books in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Series and then other series and ten more serious books, then came classics, then literature, philosophy, then contemporary, then art and then poems and then I was as much part of the world of letters as ink and inkpot was. The cozy world of carefree fantasy that he has unwittingly introduced me has changed me forever. So much so that my mother and my soon to be wife will have quite a few bones to pick with him, if ever he got too close to them. I was in love by the time I turned to the last page of that book, I had fallen in love, so much in love that within ten minutes I had my nose buried in another Enid Blyton fantasy. He was quite a match maker I guess.
The first book I read was ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ and I have never stopped smiling since, never stopped dreaming since the day I turned the cover and smelled in the musky air of letters.