– JINISHA SHROFF
Everyone adopted at least one hobby during the 2020 pandemic or they can say they ‘tried’. In my defence, I’d like to assure the person reading this that all I ever wanted was my little cousin brother to take up an interest in voracious reading. As you can tell from the tone of this, it didn’t end well. So I resolved that I’ll ask my 9-year-old cousin Aryan to accompany me in reading the comic book series called ‘The Adventures of Tin-Tin by Herge’. The books are originally made for children but I forgot that there were mature concepts, now by mature I mean there are words like ‘Blackmailing’, ‘Black-marketing’ and ‘Racism’ which is difficult to explain to a kid. So when my brother asked “But what’s blackmailing?” and I go “If someone wants you to do something but you don’t want to do that and they force you to do it by giving you something or they say to do it or I’ll go and tell your mom that you are a bad kid, that’s blackmail and it is a bad thing”. Now the thing with Aryan is that he has a habit of using these words in real life, which is actually good but here it is not. So one Sunday evening his friends were playing gully cricket in the society common plot and this one friend got out on the first ball so he dragged his mom and asked her to persuade others to let him bat once more. Naturally, this poor guy’s mother requests the team and says “Aryan who Tumse Chota hai na Chalo Lao bat usse khelne do” and my brother comes storming into the house dragging our neighbour and her son and starts screaming and exclaims that this woman is a criminal and my aunt tries his best to convince him otherwise but he’s determined. On asking him why does he think this lady is a criminal he replies she’s blackmailing him into letting this guy bat once more when he’s clearly out the first time and in return, she’s not even offering him toffees to get her work done and that blackmailing is a criminal offence. An investigation committee was set up to investigate the person guilty of teaching Aryan such ‘violence’ and in the end, the supreme court and the jurisdiction concluded that Aryan should be sent back to reading Geronimo Stilton. An appeal from my side was made to google the appropriate age group for the Tin Tin novels but that was rejected and a 3-year ban was put onto reading Tin Tin under any circumstances in the household. I’m sorry, Mr. Herge I tried. Hence during the pandemic our nosy neighbor became a blackmailer and that’s how our reading journey went down the dark path.