My grandfather once said that he can’t leave anything except education. That is
translated into a love of reading for my dad, which in turn is passed on to me
and my siblings. Our favourite weekend activity is going to a bookstore.
Browsing through the myriad of books on display, choose one (or two if we’re
lucky) that speaks to us,”Pick me pick me, take me home!”
I pass this habit on to my children. They know that going to a toy
store does not mean mommy will get them a toy but a visit to a book store?
Definitely will come home with a new book for tonight’s bedtime reading.
This is probably why, more than any other arts, books hold a special place in my
heart. Sure I like dances, I took lessons when I was young, have danced the
night away and enjoyed watching dances. Obviously I like music since I like
dance. Again, I took music lessons as a kid, lost my voice screaming in rock
concerts while able to sit nicely during orchestras and is an accomplished
bathroom singer. I also enjoyed plays, musical, films, painting, in short, I
like all sorts of art. But nothing, nothing quite like the written words to
really touch my soul.
I guess that’s why the first ever ayat that comes to Prophet Muhammad PBUH is,
“Iqra!” or “read!” Reading truly opens up our world. It feeds your brain and
nourish your soul. It has the power to affect your whole being. A book made you
laugh, cry, frown, it can alters your moods, soothe you and make you feel
There’s no greater book than the Quran of course since it is made by Allah. But
lesser books that are made by mere mortals, while they are no match for the
Quran, they’re doing a pretty good job in expanding our mind. You can travel
everywhere without ever leaving your house. I’ve been to Sweden with Astrid
Lindgren, to the wilderness of America with Laura Ingalls Wilder, to the British
boarding schools with Enid Blyton, to Semarang with Bung Smas, rediscovering
Jakarta with Benny and Mice (ok so they’re cartoonist but it’s in a book form
;), finding the world with Bill Bryson, re-living crazy teen years with Hilman,
delighting in a child’s world with Benny Rhamdani and of course, entangled in
other women’s mind courtesy of Asma Nadia and others.
By reading, you realise that humans everywhere are the same. Yes, we have
differences, but at the core of it we all feel and want the same thing. Whether
it is by an Indonesian, Irish, Muslim or Jewish writer, the human emotion is
universal. We cry when we lose someone important, delights upon finding love and
that a mother’s great hug is often the best medicine for all.
Sadly, sometimes we are too busy picking at our differences, we lost track of
our universalities, to marvel at our sameness. Proof that we are created by the
same entity, the one and only God. Books helped me to remind me of that. Again
Books will always be a part of my life. I hope I can pass on my love of books
and reading to my children. For there’s no greater inheritance than that.