In my house we have a towering bookshelf that boasts hundreds of books; various works that my siblings and I have read over the years, a few of my father’s football memorabilia almanacs, various pieces of Bengali literature belonging to my mother, and typical children’s stories for my youngest sister. In my own room, I hoard a proud collection of all of my favourite books. Some date back as far as my childhood, and a couple have followed me to my university dorm room and sit amongst my English course readings. As I sit at my desk, I can see a stack of untouched books on my bedside table. To a stranger it would immediately appear that I love to read – and I do – but to tell the truth I have not read for pleasure in almost three years.

My parents love to tell this anecdote: when I was younger, I would read everything I could get my hands on, even to the point of opening my father’s letters in the morning and reading through the various house bills. “She’s our little bookworm.” they say. As funny as it may sound to others, nothing saddens me more than remembering the (many) occasions where I was tucked away in corners of my grandmother’s house with a book in my hand, entirely lost in another world. Perhaps you have questions. Depression is the answer to why I have not read for joy for almost three years. Depression is also the answer to a lot of imposing questions. “Why are you not eating?” “Why are you not sleeping?” “What’s wrong with you?” “Why are you so moody?” I’m nostalgic - I talk a lot about my childhood. Back then, any book I could get my hands on was a welcome means of escape, a way to cope with the obvious tensions that came with growing up; but I was also a withdrawn, reclusive character, and books were my armour, shielding me from too many questions. 

Mentally speaking, I ‘grew up’ much earlier than anticipated. At the same time, I became disillusioned with my surroundings, my friends, my family and my love for books. I went from ‘class daydreamer’ to living with the unshakeable feeling that I was a nightmare to be around – it consumed me, and I became angry. I lost weight and I gained it again. I didn’t sleep for several nights in a row, and then slept whole weekends away. I had stopped doing the things I loved. I had no focus. I didn’t care about things, and the people around me mistook my demeanour as simply being laid-back. In fact, I was the opposite - my mind was always whirring, searching for something to blame it all on; school stress, family life, teenage angst, etc. Nothing quite fit. I could see the friends I had were having issues of their own but were still managing to make time for hobbies, so why couldn’t I? 

I managed to get some things back on track: I reconnected with friends and enrolled in college. Despite that, my life-long aspiration of being a writer had faltered and slipped into the shadows. Whilst studying for my A-Levels, I applied to university to study Psychology, much to the annoyance of my father, and after some crossed words, my mind was made up; there was nothing more to be done. On a particular day that started out just like any other, I received appraisal from my teacher for a short screenplay that I had written as part of my English coursework. I had become so detached from the idea of myself as a literary or creative person that I had been wholly unable to recognise where my talents and passions lay. I owe so much to my teacher. That same night, as I was talking to my friends about our futures, it dawned on me that I didn’t want to do Psychology and I simply had to pursue English and I simply had to write. With that reckoning, I altered my application to study English and Film, immediately dizzy with thoughts of life as a writer. I slept soundly, totally content that I had made the right choice. 

Two years later and still studying, I remain grateful for the change of heart. I wait for the day that I will feel the love I knew so well in my younger years. I wait patiently for it to lead me into a bookshop. I wait patiently to be swept up in words. I remain hopeful.