I started reading at a very young age, maybe at 8 or 9. When I look back, I still wonder how I got into this habit. My mother is illiterate. My father can read, but not fluently and reads nothing except shop names, bus-boards and news slugs. I am their eldest child. So I was practically the first individual who learned to read in our family.
My village, being small, had no newspaper vendors. The nearest place to get a newspaper was 6-7 kilometers away, which also happened to be a place of weekly bazaar. I remember sneaking out on my bicycle on Sundays just get newspapers. I used to get 3-4 newspapers at once, so they would last me for quite sometime. Added bonus was, on Sundays, newspapers used to have more analytic content and special supplements. I used to love Sundays for this.
My mother used to bring newspapers on Fridays, the day of bazaar; one English and one Marathi. She could not pronounce the names of English dailies, so I would give her a chit with the name written on it. On other days, I used to go to my neighbors. They used to get a Marathi newspaper daily.
Books were an inaccessible commodity. None of my schools had a library (I was in three different schools from the first standard to the tenth standard). No one in my extended family, relatives or village ever read. So I could not even borrow books from anyone. But my junior college had a library. I started taking books from there. I used to finish a book in not more than couple of days. My speed baffled the librarian and after a while he stopped issuing books under the pretext that I was in Science stream and needed to focus more on studies.
In this context, now when I have access and little money, I want to buy as many books as I can and build a small home library of my own. I hope that it will benefit my younger siblings and my cousins and other kids from my village. The kind of human being that I am now and whatever little things I have achieved in my small life, I attribute it all to my reading.