‘Nobody pushed us to start reading other books’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Oct 2017 07:40:12




IT WAS a young group -- about 11-12 college students, boys and girls in their late teens -- that was poring over books, moving around the open stacks in the book store, consulting one another in hushed tones, and eventually picking up a few books for purchase. The entire activity had created quite a silent and dignified buzz in the store.

Nothing could be more tempting than to strike a conversation with the group. They came from a nearby town to spend some time with books. They studied in the same college and had come on mobikes all the way. After finishing buying of books and having dinner, they were planning to return. That was quite a sight by itself to see college boys and girls having come to the city from a nearby town to spend quality time together. The moment I started talking to a couple of them, all gathered around to take part in the conversation.

How old is your habit of acquiring books for yourselves? -- I asked. One girl stepped forward, “Not much old. I have been pursuing books for about three years.” Every child mentioned a more or less similar time-span. Talking about books is my favourite hobby. As the conversation delved deeper into books and the habit with them and the culture of reading, a boy said rather in a sad voice, “You know, Sir, nobody ever told us to read books other than text books when we were kids. Just nobody. Parents would say that it was good to develop reading habit, but never actually encouraged us to buy books or even seek a library membership for ourselves. Our teachers, too, never pushed us to reading other books”. Agreeing with him, another boy said, “Sir, we realised ourselves that we should read books, and formed this group. Today, we are in good number, but at times, only two or three of us go pursuing books”.

Every other youngster in the group agreed, too. The flurry of their disappointed -- and even angry -- responses told a sad story, of course. That people offer only lip service to reading culture but never actually promote it, was a thing that I often suspected. That evening, I got a good evidence of it. The kids endorsed what I suspected often. And that made me sad, to speak truthfully.

Of course, it is quite true that youngsters of today are not much inclined to reading as a matter of habit. But it is also equally true that there is no environment that promotes reading as a matter of calling and culture. In schools and colleges, or even in homes, elders really do not promote the habit of reading among their youngsters. Much to the contrary, they do not even try to stop the youngsters from getting addicted to electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and computers. Of course, they do complain that the youngsters do not read and waste time only with gadgets etc. Yet, the elders also do not promote reading as a habit among their youngsters.

This dishonesty of elders hurts. On one hand, they complain that their kids are flippant and frivolous, and on the hand, they do nothing to introduce their youngsters to books. They pay much lip service to the cause of reading, but do not do actually anything to ensure that the young people develop reading culture. That is the malady and malaise!