Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bob’s Banter


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By Robert Clements

Dream Big Through Books…!
My childhood was spent in innumerable escapades, getting lost in caves with Tom Sawyer, solving mysteries with the Five Find-Outers and their dog, and hunting man eaters with Jim Corbett. Oh, what a glorious time I had, sometimes even going ‘twenty thousand leagues under the sea’ with Jules Verne or hearing the Hound of the Baskervilles, howl over the English marshes, with my hair standing on end along with Sherlock Holmes!
All these adventures were mine, without spending a single pie, as I entered the cover of one book or another, that my mom or dad brought me from various libraries they became members of, and later which I also became a member of.
Oh the world of books, that kept me propped up in some different corner of my home or perched on a window sill, and without a ‘do not disturb’ board around, me everyone kept away from me as I disappeared often from one meal time to another into the imaginary fantasies of some wonderful author.
Never a dull moment for me, as holiday mornings saw innumerable authors calling out to me from within the confines of their very descriptive or picturesque covers, shouting, “Bob, you want to be kidnapped today? And I would grin at Robert Louis Stevenson as he took me into the realms of his book, “Kidnapped!”
It was a happy world, and a joyous one, certainly not escapism!
No, I was not running away, because when I returned to the world of flesh and blood it seemed the very ones who I’d spent some hours before were there spinning tops or flying kites or even playing cricket with me, because good authors, make their characters so real, that later when you meet those in flesh and blood it’s as if you’ve met them before in some tale in the hardbound covers of a book!
That for me was fiction!
And those books helped, because as my classmates often struggled through grammar and adjectives and adverbs I found the stories I’d read had automatically got me used to writing and speaking right and this was an additional bonus in my travels into a world, authors laid out and kept their doors open for me.
And then with all that reading, what better than to one day decide that I would continue my life’s journey by becoming a writer. But that’s another story, this is about reading, learning and yes, leading too!
A writer rarely has free time, not because he’s always writing, but that he’s thinking his next article or story or play or plot. But, on those delightfully glorious occasions I find I have that odd hour or two, I pull out a huge volume of short stories by Roald Dahl, and lose myself in his world of fantasy, and unexpected story endings.
I was pleasantly surprised that Dahl is also a favourite author of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak!
What a special day it was for all of us here in India when a country that prided itself in being white outside and white inside too, decided to have a man of Indian origin as their Prime Minister. Something that would have made the likes of Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria turn in their respective graves. But as they voted him in, it was not the colour of his skin the Tories saw but his rhetoric, his skill in oratory and his brilliant language!
That skill won Rishi the impossible!
That skill can do the same for anyone of us! And to a very great extent the command over language does not come from learning the dictionary byheart but comes from a passion for reading!
The best textbooks on grammar are not the Wren and Martin we studied in school, but the billions of books written so painstakingly by authors over centuries.
Read and learn!
Many of us think that by learning a new word a day or by keeping a lexicon as our study book, we can master the English language. The simple fact is, that if the word needs a dictionary to be understood then that word is not one that is commonly used, and instead of helping us master the language may come in the way of communicating with others. You don’t want your friends or audience glancing at a dictionary to find out the meaning of what you speak, do you?
They won’t and you will remain the most misunderstood person that lived.
But the dictionary you need to use are books!
Read, and speak better!
In the Writer’s and Speaker’s course I conduct, I tell my class month after month, to pick bestsellers, and instead of reading just content, to also carefully read a page and then the next page, studying the style in which the author has communicated. Very soon the reader will be able to do the same. Not grammar books, nor dictionaries, but novels, short stories and articles.
You want to become a thinker whose thoughts will be much sought after, read, absorbing each word. You want to become a world leader whose language will convince and whose voice will command? Read! You want to change the world, and bring changes to the world you live in and like Rishi Sunak, lead a world with skin different from the colour of yours, read!
Reading books is all the textbooks you need to do well in life!
Reading books takes your mind through your imagination to places you never thought you would go to, and soon your body follows to those same areas and helps you scale those same heights that those in the books climbed.
My childhood, as I mentioned, was spent getting lost in caves with Tom Sawyer, solving mysteries with Enid Blyton’s, Five Find-Outers and Dog, hunting man eaters with Jim Corbett.
They were my only textbooks, and today I thank God for all the authors who through their books made me dream big and often helped me scale heights I never would have dreamt reaching…!
The Author conducts an Online Writers and Speakers Course. For more details send a thumbs-up to him on WhatsApp 9892572883.
[email protected]


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