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Reading During Pandemic: My Journey From A Non-Reader To An Avid Reader

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No matter how old we are, it is expected out of us to read. Read something that keeps us engaged, something that not only expands our knowledge or vocabulary but also puts our life in motion with a strong sense of self and morale. When I entered school, reading didn’t come that easily to me.

I struggled hard to keep my eyes focused on the pages and would often doze off in 10 minutes. To be very honest, I used to come up with creative ways to move away or excuse myself when a bunch of intellectuals used to surround me to discuss a character or the storyline.

As I grew up, Harry Potter was and still is very much in trend. In every nook and corner, used to find a person going all gaga about how great the book is and that the fantasy promises a bright future. But suddenly, just like we have right-wing and left-wing in politics, a bunch of other self-boasted individuals or rather liberals started debating that reading is not everything and that there are visual and auditory learners who are equally exciting and have dense perspectives.

I, associating myself with the liberals, started feeling affiliated with this wave. There was this strong self-confidence that emerged out of nowhere, and I kept embracing myself for who I was. I would debate with those who enforced reading as an activity and never let me choose what was best for me.

Let’s take a pause here.

My dear readers, aren’t you thinking that my story here is going off track? My title preaches something else, and I am writing something else. Well, this was just to set a context. In my opinion, those who belong with me in the same group would be more interested to know how I converted myself from non-reader to an avid reader. The guy who was a staunch supporter of the non-reading club is now writing the importance of reading. That’s so stupid of him. Was he hit by a bus, or did a coconut drop on his head and changed his mind wires forever?

Welcome to my world! I assure you, you will love reading this. Some days back, a friend of mine was completely after me. He wanted me to read this book for a long time despite him knowing the fact that I do not read unless and until I have to pass an exam! So, this became the ultimate mission of his life. “Mission Murali” as designed by him was to make sure that Murali reads the book named, The Little Prince, thought that the man had gone nuts and was foolish enough to force me to read a book that had connections with childhood.

He kept bugging me and as decently as I would say, he was after my life. After days of persistence from his side and clear denial from my side, my lovely friend brought the book to my house and showed me that it had interesting pictures. ‘Pictures,’ that is what a visual learner likes, right?

So finally, after enough resistance, I picked up the book and started reading it. Daily after reading a page or two, my eyes started getting hooked to the book. The character in the story goes on to explore the world, and meanwhile, undertaking this journey, he realizes a lot about the world and himself. I started relating myself to the character; after all, I was also an explorer who was exploring the realms of this reading world.

This incident gave me a fresh perspective. I enjoyed reading so much that I started developing these thoughts and images in my mind that had never crossed it before. Even my dreams were colourful and full of adventure.

Anyway, let me share what this book taught me because I am sure this is going to be of some help during this lockdown.

Don’t Be Too Fond Of Numbers

Numbers are nothing but deceiving. Adults are very fond of numbers, and they tend to measure their success against the number of things they have achieved. They ask questions like, How much money do you earn? Or How much did you donate to the charity? Instead, measure your success on how happy you are. Do you like catching butterflies? or Gazing stars at night with your loved ones? (Not to forget, stars look amazing these! Thanks to corona, less pollution these days!)

Relationships Make Life Worth Living

We are social animals. Until and unless we don’t build relationships and talk to people, we cannot come out of our comfort zone and learn something new. It also gives us a chance to explore who we are and what we can do. Measure your happiness by making those meaningful connections. 

Take Care Of The Planet

As adults, we become selfish and start consuming things at a higher rate. It does not give the planet enough time to regenerate itself. Remember, Karma is a boomerang, One day it will come and stand in front of us, and we will have to answer. Maybe, Corona days are asking us to slow down!

Judge Yourself Before You Judge Others

Adults are biased. It affects how we interact with others. We judge others way too quickly and forget to judge ourselves. This creates an image that we are the best and creates a wall that stops us from being more humane. It is better to first reflect upon our actions and then others.

Don’t Forget To Enjoy Your Life

Take a moment and breathe. Don’t rush! This rat race will not take us too far. Instead, ask yourself this question – are you really happy? Are you making any positive difference in your life or those around you?

I was somebody who was a part of this rat race, but this book changed the course of my life forever. Now, I have not only finished this book but also bought three more to be completed during this forced vacation. I guess it was all there in me. I was meant to be a reader but never saw the obvious benefits of it. Books are great friends to be with and will surely add a lot of positivity around in the current times and the life ahead.

Thanks to my dear friend, had it not been him, I would have never realized what I was missing out on. Books, I shall always be indebted to you. You have taught me to focus on those small details of life that I could never understand in the visuals. 

(This article is written by Murali Krishna, who is providing online counselling with our Mental Health Internship Program.)

Like Murali, many people question the art of reading. Are you one of them? Do you lack motivation or question how effective this would be? Then reach out to us. Yo Zindagi surely has a list that will blow your mind.

Yo Zindagi is a campaign to Promote Mental Health & Emotional Maturity by engaging individuals in conversations and workshop. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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