The Journey through the Alphabet

My mother-tongue is Kannada and I have been speaking it from the time I learnt to speak. My father was working in the Indian railways and he was posted in places outside Karnataka. Somehow, reading and writing my language took a backseat. I have been living in Karnataka since my marriage in 1982. I learnt to read and write Kannada with my children. I never succeeded in achieving the proficiency I have in reading and writing English. Books have always been a part of my life. During the passing years I made resolutions that I would read many books in Kannada. There are many wonderful writers and books. But the lack of speed stopped me from reading all those books that I promised myself that I would read.

The year 2019 has started. I went to the library and borrowed two books by Dr Shivaram Karanth. He is one of the greats of Kannada Literature. My husband is reading one, and I have started the other one. It is called ‘Alida mele’. It means what remains after everything has been snuffed out. The book is very interesting. It is about this journey called life. The author writes when we travel from one point to the next by whatever means of transport, the vehicle becomes our home for that duration. When we get on to the bus, train, etc we find other passengers already sitting inside. We join them as newcomers. Some welcome us and others do not. This is what happens in life. We talk to each other and leave when we reach our destination. We very rarely meet our fellow travelers again.

I think the same happens with books. Some books remain a part of our lives forever and we re-read them over the years. They never age. But some books are forgotten before we reach the ending. Some fail to hold our interest. I read somewhere that when people say that they have only one life to lead, it means that they have no acquaintance with books. Every story takes us into the lives of the characters in it. Their worlds become ours.

While writing this my mother’s journey through the world of books comes to mind. She has always loved reading. In her childhood she read lots of books written in Kannada. My parents were married in 1959 and my father was always posted in North India. She could not get Kannada books there. He persuaded her to learn English and read books in that language. Her friend told her to start with books written by Barbara Cartland. She plunged in and has never looked back. She is 78 and still reads and enjoys books.

Books always bring to mind my husband’s aunt. She loved reading. In her eighties she used to read everything that came her way. She would be amused when people enquired if she read books on Philosophy and Religion. Their assumption was such books suited her age. But she enjoyed Harry Potter and Ponniyan Selvan as well. I remember her whenever I read a good book. I used to call and talk to her about them. My fervent hope is that I will never be forced to give up this journey through the world of books till the end.

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” ~Chinese Proverb

Ponniyin Selvan – Wikipedia

K. Shivaram Karanth – Wikipedia




8 Replies to “The Journey through the Alphabet”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post Mukhamani. Its true, we see so many different worlds through books. Your post reminds me of my resolve to read more this year. Thank you

  2. A really interesting post, especially about how different Indian languages relate to each other. I can see now how convenient English must be when two people from different regions of India meet and wish to communicate with one another. It’s the same with the EC in Europe. We will be leaving soon, but the 28 nations we leave behind will still talk English to each other to conduct their business.

    1. Yes, English is spoken almost everywhere. But in North India, it is good if we know Hindi. I grew up in Delhi and Hindi is like a second language. With English and Hindi it is easier to communicate with others.

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