Whatever happened to good ol’ Enid Blyton’s books? As children, I remember fondly, how on long, lazy summer afternoons, we savoured drifting through the pages of her imaginatively blended books. The first ever Enid Blyton book I ever read, after promoting myself from fairy tales, was, ahem! ‘Mary Ann goes to tea.’ I can only vaguely recall bits and pieces of the story. What I do remember is that I sifted through the 3 pages quickly and then read it all over again. Enid, if I may address her by her first name, opened a window to my world. Her creativity introduced me to places, persons and creatures that entertained me for a larger part of my childhood. Why, I met princes and princesses, magicians and wizards, gnomes, elves, dwarves, trolls and the occasional goblins besides a host of highly cantankerous characters. I visited majestic castles, eerie caves, evergreen meadows, delectable landscapes, cascading waterfalls, enchanting forests, delectable oceans, and of course, Mrs. Smith’s alluring garden.
As the days rolled into years, I gradually shifted my attention to her more ‘mature’ detective novels. Storybooks on the adventures of ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘The Secret Seven’ were exchanged among my circle of friends. Lunch breaks in school were opportune moments to discuss plots and sequences besides bragging on who had read more of Enid’s books. We were so engrossed in her chapters we even decided to form a ‘real detective club’ of our own. Sadly, our club lasted for only a day as each one of us wanted to be the ‘main man.’ High School brought along Frank W Dixon’s ‘Hardy Boys’ and Carolyn Keene’s ‘Nancy Drew’ adventures. Evidently, none of us macho, gung-ho men in an all boys’ school admitted to reading the latter’s stories though I’m sure we all did just that discreetly at home. What was even more surprising was, despite the hush-hush about her books, we found that we could answer questions relating to Nancy Drew impromptu during the class quizzes conducted by our teachers. Every single one of us wanted to be Joe or Frank Hardy. It was settled then that each and every one of us would grow up to be detectives. We often bantered among ourselves, that given a chance, we would put Sherlock Holmes out of business. How we ridiculed the line, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Little did we know that intellectually we were in elementary school- if compared to Alfred J Hitchcock.
The rustling of autumn leaves through the years announced the coming of age. Yes, we were going to college! The College with the capital C. Enter Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Alistair MacLean and Ahem! Ahem! Ahem! The vivacious and not so prudent Jackie Collins. Ooh Mama! Boys will always be boys. One author who will always be on the back of my mind is Louis L’Amour. His gift of storytelling is so powerful, so intense; once you become one of his cowboys riding across the parameters of the untamed west you’ll forget you were born in Nagaland. Yes sir, git yer Smith and Wesson ready ‘cuz trouble’s driftin’ asunder if ye ain’t met Mr. L’Amour.
As is the rule of nature, one has to go through a metamorphosis in life as the grey matter absorbs what it has to absorb. I slowly began diverting my reading habits towards more complicated plots, more articulate projections and more delicate issues. I, for one, can proudly say that in all of the books I’ve read thus far, I have conquered and ruled kingdoms, loved the most beautiful women, sailed endless oceans, soared through azure skies, scaled the highest of mountains, challenged the vilest of demons, gone through the deepest of agonies and laughed with unending pleasure. Through these books, I have gained a plethora of wisdom and knowledge.
What saddens me today is the absence of the habit of reading good, unadulterated books among the cola drinking generation. The idiot box has practically invaded over the minds of adolescents. The radio is not listened to anymore. Why I say this is because the radio is an essential tool towards developing imagination. Children! Go back to the wonderful world of Enid Blyton. She has so much to tell you. There are so many universes you have yet to discover. So many friends you have yet to meet. So many avenues you have yet to explore.
Yes Enid, thank you. Thank you oh so very much.