The lady who reigned over my childhood

Almost every kid I grew up with has read her books. Every kid that I have seen grow up has been introduced to her books as well. She’s the kind of writer who is seemingly ageless. You could be 5 years old and the book might be read to you and I guarantee you, you will be asking for more! Or you could be 50 years old and still pick up her book and love it, identify with it.

Her books make you believe in magic, that anything is possible. Now when I reminisce about her books, I realise that they gifted me my sense of wonder, my sense of belief in the good things in the world, my faith in people. These are just some of the gifts that I can think of. There are many more, I assure you.

When I started reading her books, I was so enthralled by what she wrote that I wanted to live the life of the characters in her books. I convinced my parents that sending me to a boarding school would be the most sensible thing they could ever do for me. I even got through one of the best schools in Maharashtra, India. Thankfully, my mother came to her senses and did not send me, albeit kept me closer to her than ever, just in case I ran away! I remember being so upset, so angered by this decision at the time! I felt like nobody understood my need to go to a boarding school! I could have midnight parties with my new friends! I could be part in theatre productions, swim at midnight and have midnight snacks in my dormitory! My parents just didn’t understand these needs, it seemed to me. They were stopping me from all these exciting possibilities! In retrospect however, I’m glad I did not go. I am even thankful that I wasn’t sent there. I was able to keep my imagination and love for boarding schools intact this way! In a parallel universe I was most definitely attending school with the characters in her books. And this is good enough for me.

Her books motivated me to look out for the mysteries in life as well. Although I was unable to find as many mysteries in real life as her characters did in her books, they taught me a few things. Most importantly, now that I come to think about it, she taught me how to negotiate with my elders when I wanted something. She taught me the whole concept of good and evil in a way that was relatable to a child my age. This is not to say that my parents did not try to teach me these things! It’s just that she did a better job!! Apart from this, she motivated me to try salami and sausages, milk and the likes. You would think, this sounds stupid, but believe me, the way she spoke about food would have a dead man wishing for some more as well!!

When I grew up (I would like to believe that I have), as part of work, I found some unpleasant truths about her life. It left me feeling so shattered, I remember. I couldn’t believe that someone who had written the stories that portrayed such warmth, love, friendships, magic, could in reality, to put it nicely, not be a marvellous, agreeable person at all!

But as she herself taught me, I choose to look at the magic. I still choose to look at the good instead of the evil. I will always remember her as Enid Blyton, the author of my childhood.


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