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When my little girl reports stoically that she is still at chapter six of the story book, I remember that it had been  chapter five, two weeks before.

“Amma, she is bored. She is plodding her way through. I had to threaten her with dire consequences- like no Hayday for two days, before she finished the previous book,” my elder one supplies her version generously.

In other words, little girl read slow or fast depending on whether she found the book boring or interesting. And since she had a habit of checking the ending first, it took a real smart writer to sustain her interest through multiple chapters. Harry Potter had been consumed at an alarmingly fast  pace,  her style startling me, until she reached the Order of the Phoenix. She  had frowned at about chapter five and then yawned very copiously.

“Don’t you dare, dare tell me  that you are bored!” My elder one had roared in Potteral, cough, visceral fan reaction to the  irreverent treatment to a series she knew almost by heart. My little girl yawned once more. She really knew how to make her argument heard.

Knowing the history, I look at her with eyes narrowed, trying to look intimidating. She pretends very hard to find something interesting in the sixth chapter. Neither of us are very convincing.

“She is mimicking diva behaviour, ma! We have to get her to finish what she starts,” says her sibling. I agree wholeheartedly. However, to get her to read again was my priority- without any coercion.

“There is a book which makes your uncle laugh aloud even now, when we discuss it… this book was also your grand father’s favourite when he was growing up.Would you like to read that?”

By evening she reports that she is at chapter six…of the new book. I grin. It is Swami and Friends by R.K.Narayan. Some books can never go wrong. Time tested through different family temperaments, it stays an eternal favourite. First published in London by Hamish Hamilton in 1935, this one has enchanted many in our family.

My little daughter smiles from behind the dog eared copy. She is reading fast.

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