As a kid, no one used to read me bed time stories, except for the ones about ghosts, instantly cooked by my Aunt, to make my eyes startle and feed me an extra piece of bread by the treason of her storytelling, and the ones which never met an end for I would fall asleep less than half way through them, muttered by Dad long before I was five. This was for two reasons basically. One, that I developed a love for reading very quickly and second, clichéd as it is, like any other kid, I liked watching the colourful illustrations which came along with stories in books unlike in those narrated.
After having read sets of Disney books that came in coloured cartooned packets about princesses, beasts, ducks, peas, elves, apples and wicked witches (and houses made of candy and sweet!), I came across my first real novel. My Dad brought me a not so fat, not so very thin, blue coloured book home one day on his way back from work. This, made up for all his inconsistent sleepy storytelling in the past, and was the best thing that ever happened to me. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl came to me like a miracle. It is still, almost eleven years later, the finest I have ever read. No wonder why it is one popular book.
What beats a good story about the greatest chocolate factory (which churns chocolate with a waterfall), and the hard luck of one poor, famished but content boy who finds a golden ticket to tour it? Roald Dahl has held my hand through the longest period of my childhood. In times when no one else had fine stories to speak of, became repetitive and got tired with my pestering, Roald Dahl, became my best friend, and toured me through the most mystical of worlds, and never failed to serve me the best of tales. He took me from stories of evil witches (Did you know they are bald?), of balcony love with a tortoise as a mediator, of giant peaches and grasshoppers, about the book nerd with superpowers, the finest hunting father and his adventures with his son, stories of a painting company that uses a giraffe as ladder, and a lot many more, to a big brown book with stories about prostitutes, mystery filled extra marital affairs and witchy landladies. He practically helped me grow.
Today, I have read each and every book written by that fine old man. He created magic with his yellow pencils behind that tiny yellow door of his white hut (Yes, I am a maniac). What more, his fan club newsletters are the only ones I regularly read. And even though age has set me quite apart from his storylines, my soul strives to stay adjunct with his tales, and refuses to forgo the beauty of the books. And even though I have become more of a Dan Brown, Suzanne Collins, J.K Rowling, Chetan Bhagat, Deborah Levy reading person, I am a Dahl reader at heart. My reader self will always belittle the idea that I have outgrown the time when I could enthrall these books. I trust them more than anything I ever will. I will laugh the same, and dream only as much as I did then when I turn their pages today , but until I do they have taken a quiet place in my book stack, but their coloured spines, have still a higher degree of grace than any other book does for me.
To squeeze in one little thing- Roald Dahl books have a peculiar smell of old paper, which readers like me have a certain nose for. These are books you can read, smell and live (and eat if you can). These are not the conformist childhood favourites, or epitomic bedtime stories or first reads for that matter, but one who has read them knows that their loveliness is way beyond these petty tags.
The title of this article is somewhat unfitting, for my love for Roald Dahl’s books never really put me sleep, it rather kept me awake. Making me turn page over page, chapter by chapter, from one detail to the other, unto the path to discover true pure literal lyrical magic. There is no appropriate way to close word on my article today, for words cannot appreciate a man who went beyond them just enough. But probably how Roald Dahl would put it, his world of marvel is indeed the most dory hunky and glorimptious you can find and if you haven’ ventured it yet, then you are one frothbungling!
On that note, I pick up one book which I haven’t read since a long time, and I ruffle its pages against the flash light by my bed. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory read the first page. I turn to the first chapter…to sweet sleep.