What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?
My childhood was filled with games and activities that had everything from hide and seek, police and thief, hantam-bola (a malay phrase for throwing a ball at someone), zero point or yeye (a rubberband rope that you use to twirl around your legs or jump over), and so on. In trying to recall any written words or anything that looks like a book or magazine… no, none of them. The only things that were written would be the numbers on a hop-scotch marking on the sand or picture cards resembling poker cards on one side but with pictures of some super heroes or martial arts stars on the other side. Come to think of it, the only time any of us had books would be to carry them to and from school and reading them in class when the teacher required us to do so.
That was not a dry spell. It was what the life in a kampung (malay word for village) was like. Lots of play, interaction, sports and even songs. Nothing dry about it. In fact, it can be said as “The best years of our lives.” Ok, I know it would not be possible for me to be writing about it now if I had not actually learned how to read and write. Yes, there were some books in my childhood years, so few that I can remember them. It was not Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Mother Goose as these were shown on TV so we would not want to read them. So when I was asked to choose a book at a bookshop, I liked the looks of one of the series from Enid Blyton called “Mr Pink Whistle”. My cousins would tell me they liked “The Naughtiest Girl” series but I preferred this one. There it began my journey of children’s fiction and it was about Mr Pink Whistle. An odd man who had some magical ability like being invisible, to help people but he tends to get into trouble when doing so.
Oh my goodness, I just checked and discovered that he’s half a brownie and half a person, whatever that means. Oh dear, I wonder how it would have confused me if I had known that as a child. Anyway, the book made me quite imaginative and sometimes, I would imagine having supernatural abilities to help others or save the world from impending danger or evil monsters… erm.. I think that came from watching too much superheroes cartoons on TV. Did I mention that I read lots and lots of comics? Well, yes I did… boxes of Beano, Superman, Spiderman, Batman and most of all, Peanuts!
I’m all grown up now and I still love to read Peanuts comics. There are so many good books to read that it’s not possible to do so in one lifetime. So I choose my books carefully now.