Disclaimer: I have an actual friend named Joy. This article is not dedicated to her, although she is welcome to read it.

It was as earliest as 1996 (when I was merely -counts on fingers-three years old) that I gained my first exposure to the fantastic world of literature amidst the claustrophilic bookshelves of Dial Singh Library. Mother would take me there on weekends, at first experimentally calculating how I’d respond to books (I was so gullible that I actually ‘dropped my gun’ off the roof of our post-colonial house at Lakshmi Chowk, when my dad decided to play along cop with me one day, so toys were a no-go), and when she saw that I had a thing for re-reading “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” and not just because of the cute illustrations in it, but because I at that time wanted to find out why the actual fuck did the Soldier melt into the shape of a heart and not into any other mundane blobby form of melted metal, she decided that weekends alone won’t do.

And so it became a ritual of most sacred a nature, for me to visit the library with my mother every day, early in the evening. Yes. I read a gazillion books in that time and I cherished every single one of them. It was something intimate, something I could not share with the kids at school (we weren’t the richest back then so I had to make do with Sir Syed Cambridge School, which sounds grand but actually it was just a yard surrounded by makeshift classrooms. They charged 600 rupees per month back in 1996!) because they would always be discussing sports, Bollywood movies and subpar Indian TV shows which revolved (literally, the camera would revolve and zoom in and out, making me think that the cameraman was high on LSD) around deluded mother-in-laws and newlywed, retired RAW agent brides. The only thing worse Indian cinema can do besides being over-the-top cheesy, is to rip off Hollywood movies.