One day I took my mother's dog for a walk, telling her 'back in half an hour'. Four weeks later I returned home. That dayI lost books;they were my friends, my solace and my brain comfort food. I stopped reading that day for four years. It was one year for every week in hospital.
I had learnt to read sometime before the age of five. I was fluent when I went to school. It was something I did well, fast and confidently. Too fast for the powers that be. I was skipping: I obviously didn't understand what I was reading. I was tested again and again before they accepted that I was reading swiftly and understanding what I read.
From then on I always had one, sometimes two, occasionally more, books on the go at any one time. My happiest moments in a fairly solitary life. The flights of fancies the books engendered within my mind when I could be transported to another infinitely more exciting world, as I walked to school, as I washed the dishes or was engaged in other mundane tasks, this was my bliss as I grew up.
As a child I belonged to four libaries and most of my pocket money was spent on books. My parents also had an extensive libary of books, and I did read many books that were just way too old for me to understand at the time. I received something from them all.
When I began my travels I never travelled light, I had to be sure of a supply of books. some places are remembered partly by the books I read, the wilds of Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush had War and Peace running through them; The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was read in the early dawn light of a Sydney sea front.
I bought cardigans with paperback sized pockets and handbags to accomadate the same; even an evening bag had to have room, for who knew when your date would be so boring a book would be an answer!!
It was a done deal, I read. Then one day I didn't.