Manojavam wanted to eagerly participate in co-curricular activities when he was a high-school student. Especially, he loved extempore and debating. He did quite well in his mother tongue. But a good vocabulary of english always eluded him. English till then was just a subject that would yield him some marks in the annual examination. He once bravely enlisted his name for an english extempore competition. Then he happily forgot about it and without his knowledge the D-day arrived. As his name was announced, a visibly tensed Manojavam arrived at the stage. The 200 odd student- audience waited expectantly. He wished every one a good morning with a quivering voice. After that he went blank. A minute went by and he could hear chuckles from the audience. A teacher sticking out his neck from behind the screen urged him to speak up. Manojavam knew he had to say something, but what? He babbled for a few minutes and conceded that he could not speak any more. He felt miserable and ran out of the auditorium. His classmates made fun of him later that day. That night he sat alone in his room. His father readily calculated that something was wrong. He went to his room, sat next to him and enquired. By the time Manojavam narrated the events of the day, his father knew what had to be done. He asked Manojavam to go to sleep and be ready by 9:00 am next morning.
Next morning Manojavam was ready by 8:30 am. When he asked his father as to where they were going he smiled and said “to meet man’s best friends.” Little did he know that it was going to be an important day of his life. His father took him to the City Central Library. There he met a host of non-living things that turned out to be his life long friends. He found solace in their company. What was amazing about these non-living things was that they could teach everything about life and the various emotions circulating around it. They could make him smile, laugh and sometimes guffaw. They could make him cry and sometimes bawl. They could sometimes grip him in tension and sometimes feel genuinely for a fictional character. Books changed his life. His father had asked him to carry a notebook and a pencil along with him. He had also asked him to keep a dictionary by his side and note down interesting words and their meanings as he read the books. In a span of three months his vocabulary had improved by leaps and bounds. He was more confident and could express his feelings through words. In the next academic year he won the english debate and also delivered the welcome speech for the school’s annual day event. His friends who had taunted him earlier were shocked at the transformation. Books became his eternal friends.
When he was thirty, Manjula came into his life. He was pleasantly surprised to know that she too had a liking for books. Once they completed reading a book of any genre, they used to discuss about it at length. It gave their relationship a new meaning, a new dimension. They quickly realised that marriage is not just an opportunity to practise licensed sex and a dedicated path for the continuance of the species, but a boding that grew strong due to a lot of other reasons. They both realised what God taught them when one held the handle of the bicycle and the other pedalled and journey went on smoothly. Due to Books they became the best friends. They were able to educate those four rag-picking boys in the right manner. They knew that just passing an exam will not make one educated. Manojavam believed that ‘education should not teach you to pass an exam at the end of the course, but it should teach you to gear up for the exam life offers every second. ‘The purpose of Education is to transform egos into gentlemen’ he would always quote. He always used to tell his grandchildren ” School is only going to give you a ‘passing’ knowledge, pun intended. Go immerse yourself in books, it will never let you down.” Somehow what he said always made sense and the way he said it made it even more sensible. His grandchildren loved him unconditionally. He was their best-friend.
His four rag-pickers had transformed into gentlemen and were good at whatever they pursued. The four were grateful to the couple, for if not for them, they would still be rag-picking. The moment they came to know about Manojavam’s hospitalisation, they rushed to see him. They paid visits every day. The day when he was shifted to the ward from ICU, they decided to present him his favourite novel ‘Anna Karenina’. But the box they presented was very big for a book and it felt hefty too. A surprised Manjula opened the box to find a CD player and M S Subbalakshmi’s ‘Venkatesha Suprabatham’. For the last few decades not a single day had passed by without Manojavam listening to MS in the morning. He loved music………………
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. I have chosen to narrate a single story in parts and each part would be in response to that days prompt. Hope all of you like it.