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Reading can change lives

I wanted to become a good human being. And this is where ‘reading’ has helped me.

Dr. Sugata Sanyal
Tue, Dec 31 2013

About Dr. Sugata

Dr. Sugata Sanyal was a Professor in the School of Technology & Computer Science at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and a writer by passion. He is a Research Advisor with the Tata Consultancy Services now. Please click here for more info.


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Change is the only constant, and all of us could achieve a positive change through reading. Be it books or any positive readable material we may come across. I have practiced this throughout my life. I wanted to become a good human being. And this is where ‘reading’ has helped me.

Did I succeed?

It was 12:10 pm on the 9th of December, 1968. A dejected Dr Sarkar stopped pumping my father’s chest which he was doing for the last 10 minutes. My father was no more. The only son, I felt detached, could not cry.

“Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon; How much it can fill your room depends on its windows,” said Rumi, and it was my father who opened the windows of my mind, by buying a book for me every month. He got me started on books much earlier. I was around four-years-old when he bought me the Bengali version of “Gay neck”, the story of a pigeon. It was followed by another classic, “Kari the Elephant”.

As I was yet to start reading by myself, I made him read these books to me, a few pages per day. I used to put brackets up to the point read, by pencil. I still look at these books and the moments come back, live.

Many years have passed. I was coming back home by train, to my six-month-old son and my wife. Impulsively, I bought an ABCD book for my son from a hawker and then realised, my son would take some time to read the book. Suddenly there were tears in my eyes. I discovered I was doing what my father did - buying books for me. I cried for my father, seven years after he left us. From then on, I followed what the great thinker said: “If you are a parent, open doors to unknown directions to the child so he can explore.”

In my life, I have learned to change myself, hopefully for the better, through books. At the time of heightened stress, “How to stop worrying and start living” helped me a lot. When I was going through the petty issues of life, I was looking for a higher meaning of life. I came across “The Conquest of Happiness”.

Bertrand Russell taught me to think less about myself and more about others. And he taught me that an ordinary person could also be happy, if he thinks more about others and less about himself. It’s no wonder that ‘bibliotherapy’ is used to get people out of depression.

Before he died of cancer at a young age in 2008, Randy Pausch was worried that he would not be able to communicate with his young children and by the time they mature, he would be long gone. So he wrote “The Last Lecture”, so that his children, after they grew up, would know how their father was. He taught them “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

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bullet Comments:

 
Tamamani Ghosh (Sunday, Jun 22 2014):
Thanks to Dr. Sanyal for this wonderful article Simple yet touching and meaningful. Yes ! reading indeed can change lives . Reading was never a passion to me but as I pass through the fisth decade of my life , I had undergone a small course in sales management at NIRMA university, Ahmedabad , India . This is where the realization has come. Yes ! the saying is right " Better late than never " . Let us read , read good books and also see that the younger generation inculcates the same .
 
Suman Manna (Sunday, Feb 23 2014):
Every time I read this Golden Lines brings water in my eyes. I love the Golden Lines "My father who opened the windows of my mind, by buying a book for me every month" “If you are a parent, open doors to unknown directions to the child so he can explore.” “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Every words of Proff. Sugata Sanyal Sir inspire me, rejuvenates me, re program me mind. It's my honour to write comments on his great Article. Take Care Sir
 
A Parekh (Wednesday, Jan 15 2014):
I believe that this article is written from the heart and has touched me immensely. Dr. Sugata has a unique style of expressing himself which conveys in a very simplistic but sensitive manner. Need more from you.
 
Siby Abraham (Friday, Jan 10 2014):
It is a superbly written and touching piece. It deals with a plethora of human feelings- from personal memories to philosophical thoughts in an easily readable manner. The piece conveys the feelings of humanism, warmth and sensitivenes through the words though the write up is on reading.
 
Samir Samanta (Friday, Jan 10 2014):
This small write up is just out of heart feeling for the entire mankind for genuine and honest living with a proper meaning. It touched me.
 
Satanjib Baral (Friday, Jan 10 2014):
At the outset, thanks Prabashi Post to publish this article. Such stories need to be known to many more people. Unfortunately, we don't have great thinkers, philosophers, mentors to guide and help others. Let their thoughts / valuable experience reach out to more people in form of their writings. One query: How can we tell these stories to vast majority of people who can’t read or write? We can convey it verbally also, instead of waiting to get them all literate (capacity to read and write
 

 

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