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When Magic Happens

When I was around eight, my father came back from a work trip bearing a precious gift for me – a bundle of books by Enid Blyton. Those books were my first introduction to the amazing world of reading. Though later I went on to read many other authors, my childhood was mostly spent in the magical world of Enid Blyton, mesmerized by the adventures of the Five Findouters and Famous Five and yearning for boarding school life in Malory Towers or imagining a climb up the Faraway Tree. In fact, we even had a club inspired by the Secret Seven where we could enter only by using a secret password!

So, I could hardly contain my excitement when, during the course of my Chevening programme in the UK, my professor Tom invited me and the other women on my programme to his place to meet his neighbor Gillian, who is Enid Blyton’s daughter! Tom knew that Indian women had grown up reading Enid Blyton and a meeting with Gillian was likely to be the high point of the programme. And what a treat it was! That afternoon would easily qualify as my most magical experience as we spent the afternoon chatting with Gillian about all the well loved characters and learnt the background story behind many of the stories. The setting in an English country house could not be more perfect and Tom’s wife had even taken the trouble to serve us scones with clotted cream and jam to complete the experience.

Something of what I learnt came as a shock to me. At the time when Enid Blyton wrote, England was nothing like it was in the books. While we imagined the carefree and adventurous life of the children in her books, the truth was that she wrote during the World War II days, when the children were mostly cooped up indoors and the meadows and beaches were all barricaded and wire fenced and out of bounds. And the food!!! Any fan of Enid Blyton knows that food featured prominently and delectable stuff was enjoyed on picnics, midnight feasts and evening teas. But the truth is that in the England of that time, there was severe shortage of food and all that was available was rationed bread and potatoes!

What was even more shocking to me was the fact that the English women who were with us had no clue of what we were talking about and had never read her writing. I believe Enid Blyton’s books were kind of banned in UK as they were thought to be moralistic and inappropriate. Whatever that may be, her books added magic to my childhood and I remain forever grateful to her for enticing me into the wonderful world of books.

3 thoughts on “When Magic Happens

  1. Yes, Enid Blyton stories were so ingrained in our formative years. I remember too having a Five FindOuters Club and we even disguised as gypsies and stuff. It’s an irony to know about the real picture of England at that time. A writer’s imagination was able to captivate the tender minds of an entire generation. Yes, Enid Blyton created magic! What a previlege for you to meet Gilliam in person! Glad you wrote about this….

    Liked by 1 person

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