(you can also read this article at my website http://www.sophiavoo.com)
When I was 5, I read my first rhymes with my mom sitting across the table. I can barely see her waving the rattan over my face as my eyes were fogged with tears. I recognised the a, b, c … but together, the vowels and the consonants made a rather strange noise. I have always love books. My parents had a library of them: full with pretty pictures from the Reader’s Digest magazine, knitting for beginners, home DIY, natural birth etc. But reading, was hard, very very hard -especially when you’re facing a hungry tigress about to swallow its own cub. That very same day, I recite the whole rhymes. Myself. No lack, no slack.
Once I could read, my world is no longer just about the muddy river of Sungai Rajang or the jungle trail lined with Mimosa pudica. In the winter, I would venture with Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy in a cosy holiday home while solving a murder case under the Christmas mistletoe. During summer, I day-dreamed with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, plotting for our next adventure with straw hats brushing against our dirty faces. In the morning, I would run with Anne across the field of Green Gables betting on who would arrives first at the horse stables. At dawn, a small eyed lady with thin lips in a flowy chiffon dress tapped my shoulder and brought me back to a 300sqft room littered with books, the library.
Back then, there were only three things I lived for: 1) the library and its books 2) durians that fell on my dad’s back yard 3) Friday nights when I would watch P.Ramlee’s movie for the gazillion-th time.
And now, more than 20 years later, I couldn’t remember when I last heard the thumping sounds of falling durians nor the songs sang by Apek in Tiga Bujang Lapuk. Naturally, I cling on to my books -the only thing I have left to connect the fading dots between the present and my well-loved childhood.
Despite my well intention of ‘reads more’ in 2010, most of the time I barely read at all. Medical school has deserted me on a pile of dry land with physics, biology and chemistry. It is a land where Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist are merely fictional characters and day-dreaming is a crime. Most of all, I fear of the very same thing that I love -books. Many months went by. No books read. And it’s now 2015.
Audiobook is like a Christmas present that you never knew you need but Santa decided to send it down your chimney anyway. The thought of someone reading a book to you is rather strange but intriguing at the same time. What if he reads too fast? What if you can’t understand his accent? I downloaded the app anyway and downloaded a handful of free stories and just like that -I found her, Anne of Green Gables. She was lying on the grass, sipping several heavy breaths, waiting for me underneath the starless sky. I am home again. I’m back.
I turned my audiobook on mostly in the mornings, after I sent my husband to work with kisses and while sculpting my bare face with make-ups. With my earphones tucked into my ears, I sometimes smirked while putting on my lipstick or teared up when my mascara is not even dry. The French and Urdu were effortlessly placed with each roll of the tongue by the chosen narrator. Never did I know, apart from writing, reading itself is an art. Art that I quickly becoming very fond of.
I have Sophia Amoruso from NastyGal telling me stories about how she built an international empire from a single woman’s business and the comedian Aziz Ansari on dating in this modern’s age. He had me laughed even at the intro for calling me a lazy bastard as he has not only had to write but read the book for me too. And lastly, Khaled Hosseini on loyalty, friendship, love and forgiveness between a servant and his master in The Kite Runner. The later has been my deepest obsession. Read by Khaled himself, a doctor turned writer -I found myself running kites with Amir and Hassan on the soil of Afganistan. We went up to the hill, read stories about Rustom and Saurabh when suddenly Hassan’s words echoed in my head, over and over again: for you, Amir, a thousand times over. And I cried.
I have ‘read’ more books in these past few months than I have in years. It might not be a traditional way of ‘reading’ books but the content was delivered, understood and consumed as much, maybe more. It saves me time, allows me to multi-task while still able to indulge myself with the best-sellers on the book shelves. Of course, getting your hands on the hard copy is probably more rewarding. But for the lazy me, it’s more rewarding if it is read and not just an honorable display sprinkled with dusts.
And now, if you don’t mind me, I still have a kite to run. Bye!