The Joy of Reading

By Nityan Sharma

Today, I was awarded the prize for reading 100 books, the maximum number of books read by a student in my grade in a year. Everyone clapped for me. My parents were so proud of me.

I remembered the day of the Parent Teacher Conference a year back. As usual, I dreaded it! My teacher Mrs. Bella Scott again complained about my reading. My parents were concerned and really worried. I hated reading! I felt when there were movies made on almost all classics and also the audio books. Why sit in a corner and struggle to master reading?

My parents promised her that they would try their best. Well, they did try – chocolates, timeouts, movies and rewards. Nothing could make me read. I just felt it was a waste of time.

They enrolled me in extra special classes where I had to sit with the teacher for an hour thrice a week. Well, there was no way out!

I thought of a clever plan to escape this torture. I pretended that I could not see the words clearly. The teacher reported it to my parents. I was so happy that I would no longer be tortured. My parents felt really bad for scolding and punishing me. In fact, Mrs. Scott was also very sorry for me. I thought that was the end of reading classes.

But to my misfortune I was taken to Dr. James Coelriche, an eye doctor, for diagnosis. He was very friendly and jovial and asked me what the problem was. I promptly told him that I could not read the letters clearly. He told me funny things and soon I was laughing. He told me to look at the chart with pictures of different things. He winked at me and said if I could identify all, I would get a box of chocolates. In no time I identified all. I got the chocolates! I was asked to sit outside while he talked to my mother.

I was enjoying the heavenly treat when I saw my mother moving towards me like a hurricane. She snatched the packet and dragged me outside. She stood outside near the car and faced me. To my horror, I realized that in my greed I had given away my secret. I promised myself never to trust friendly and jovial doctors!

I waited for a tongue lash but nothing happened. I could see the different colors of the rainbow of anger on her face – pale yellow, orange, red and purple. I waited for the tornado to hit me! Nothing happened. I tried my last trick. I blurted out, “I have dyslexia!”

I am not going to listen to my elder brother ever! He fills my mind with such useless information!

She looked at me and for a moment I thought she was going to smash me into the sidewalk. But she just picked me up and buckled me into my seat and drove home. Aww! The wait was awful. I wished she would shout, scream and promise punishments. But nothing happened. Papa also didn’t say anything! But I was grounded. No TV or audio books or game nights. My brothers teased me mercilessly about my eyesight and dyslexia!

After a week, there was a snowstorm alert. The school was suspended until further notice. The expected snowfall was 15–18 inches followed by a windchill that would drop the temperature to -47°F.

It was so boring. I could not go out, watch TV or listen to an audio book. My elder brother is a voracious reader; he had read about 500 books. He was lying on the couch, reading Asterix comics. I wondered how he could manage that. I imagined he must be a super reader hero. My younger brother was listening to Winnie the Pooh audio story book.

Suddenly, I heard a guffaw of laughter. My elder brother was rolling on the couch laughing uncontrollably. I curiously asked him why he was laughing but tears were rolling down his cheeks and he fell on the floor, still laughing! I begged him to tell me, but he just kept on laughing! I begged and begged but he told me, “Read it yourself.”

In the evening he shared the incident with Papa and I saw both of them in splits. It seemed when Papa was young, he had also read that adventure and remembered falling from the sofa to the floor.

I begged Papa to tell me but he also said, “Read it yourself.”

Now I was curious and decided to learn reading only to know what was so funny in that Asterix comic book. I earnestly started reading and within a month I could read really well. Books became my magic carpet. I sailed with Sinbad the sailor, lived on the island with Robinson Crusoe, I was Jack in the Magic Tree House, I was Gulliver captured by the Lilliputians, and well, I was what I read – sometimes a pirate, a shark, a king, a ghost. The list is growing.

Finally, today after the function, my elder brother decided to share his Asterix treasure trove with me. I read the book hungrily and when I reached the particular section, I suddenly burst into peals of laughter. I slipped from the couch and rolled over the carpet trying to catch my breath between the peals of laughter. My elder brother and I were discussing it incoherently and laughing crazily.

My younger brother begged, “Hey, tell me also, I also want to laugh.”

Well, we told him, “READ IT YOURSELF!” and burst into laughter once again, tears rolling down our cheeks.


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