Books aren't the only places stories exist.
Every life is a story in itself and it all starts in childhood. We kick start our children's day celebrations this week with a very insightful piece from 14 year old Sahar Beg, at why stories and reading matter to all of us.
All the stories are true. This is what Cassandra Clare writes in her series, The Mortal Instruments, knowing that the books will mean something different to every reader.
We all have our stories. Our pasts and our futures. What is written and what is waiting to be written.
My love for reading was inspired, in the very beginning, by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Secret Seven, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Five Find-Outers and Dog, The Witches, Malory Towers and Matilda.
A few years later, I discovered Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling’s books. I still remember sitting on the stairs with my mother’s battered copy of The Philosopher’s Stone, as I devoured the book for the first time. Lying in bed, feverish and with a blocked nose, watching my sisters’ play in the rain, without any jealousy, as I laugh at Fred and George’s antics in The Order of the Phoenix. Closing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when I couldn’t see through the tears, because how is this happening?
But books aren’t the only place where stories exist. Some of my earliest memories are of me as a baby, sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching Shrek, The Lion King, Winnie the Pooh and Happy Feet.
How To Train Your Dragon has created me as much as the Harry Potter series has. Hiccup is one of my greatest heroes. Sometimes, when things get too much for me, I think to myself, “Hiccup stood alone in a 300 year old war, he was bullied and told that he was worthless for 15 years, but he did what he believed in, no matter what the world said. He trained a dragon. He refused to not be himself. I can do this too.”
We look at all these people’s stories, and learn to understand our own. The strangest, most random moments make us cry and we don’t know why. We lose ourselves in these stories, and then silently, gently and slowly discover ourselves again.
The characters I relate with most are the ones I have the least in common with. I defend their every action and then wonder why.
I am the oldest sister, Ron Weasley is the youngest brother. I have an extremely high emotional intelligence, he has the “emotional range of a teaspoon”. He is loud, rude and outspoken. I am quiet.
Yet I identify with him. Perhaps there is something that we have both left unsaid. We both love our families more than anything else in the world. We will do anything to protect the people we love. We both take the backseat, we are often not given enough credit for what we do. We do what needs to be done. We love.
There are stories hidden everywhere. In songs, in paintings, in doodles, in the quotes we choose to write in the back of our textbooks. In the friends we choose, in those who choose us.
There was a beautiful quote in Magnus Chase by Loki that goes – “The thing about fate, Magnus: even if we can’t change the big picture, we can alter the details. That’s how we rebel against destiny, how we make our mark.”
So many stories leave the characters with no choice, leaving them bound by a prophecy, making them feel as though their lives are in the hands of everybody else but their own. We all feel like that sometimes. I definitely do.
But as Dumbledore explains to Harry Potter, our future is decided by the choices we make. We never have to do anything. In the end, it is the smallest things that make the biggest differences. A boy overshadowed all his life. A girl underestimated and not taken seriously. An unremarkable, skinny, bespectacled boy. Ron, Hermione and Harry – 3 characters who have inspired generations of young adults, all the world over.
I love stories that highlight the details. We fall in love with characters that we had hardly paid any attention to in the beginning. They help us look at the big picture, and appreciate the small moments. They help us acknowledge things that were left unsaid and unnoticed.
We love films and books not because of the amount of times the characters win a war and fight, but the amount of times they manage to get up again after defeated over and over again. We love them because of the moments that fit in the middle, the conversations, the jokes and the tears.
We find scattered parts of ourselves here, in places that feel like home. Good stories take us where we know we are safe.
I read to escape from the world. I read to make sense of my world. I read so that I have strength, courage and kindness. I read to find the magic in the world.
Books show us how to influence the world so that there is a place in it for us, instead of letting the world shape us.
All the stories are true. The stories in our hearts, the ones buried deep, the ones we find in places that we never expected, the stories that jump and demand attention, the stories that lay there quietly, waiting for us, my stories and your stories, they are all true.
Sahar is a 14 year old student who loves to read, write, draw and laugh.
She is the eldest of 3 siblings and lives in Delhi with her family.