Oct 12 2023 | by Urna Ghosh

Matilda by Urna Ghosh, 8 years old.

The first book I remember reading was by Arnold Lobel. I gradually got introduced to books written by Enid Blyton. Once a friend, who too loved reading, asked me if I had read books by Roald Dahl. I said “No.” She exclaimed, “You’ve read so many books by different authors. Haven’t you read Dahl at all?” That got me thinking.

My mother ritually gifts me one story book every year, only if I do well in my exams. That means I have to wait an entire year for my next book. On hearing this, my friend readily agreed to lend me a Roald Dahl. The first book she lent was Matilda.

In the beginning, I couldn’t grasp Dahl’s style of writing. I had to force myself to read on. Soon the book caught my attention.

Matilda’s parents didn’t care about what she did. They were spoilt parents! The only thing they were good at was admiring Matilda’s good-for-nothing brother, Michael. Matilda loved reading books and asked her parents if they could buy her one. They refused. So Matilda decided to go to the public library when she was alone. That is when Matilda started reading comfortably. The story is very nicely authored. As I read the book, I could actually imagine Matilda in my drawing room. She was standing on an imaginary pile of books, staring at them, and wondering which one to read next. I couldn’t help sniggering at every page.

It was not just the writing; I was also impressed by the illustrations by Quentin Blake. The fact that he could draw cartoons matching the descriptions exactly- fascinated me. Thereafter, whenever I went to a bookstore or fair, I found myself searching for the illustrations in every book on the shelf. Even for the books by Dahl, I would tend to buy the ones that had better illustrations. I longed for a chance to redraw a sketch by Quentin Blake.

A year later, our librarian ma’am asked us to submit a drawing. This was to celebrate the birthday of Roald Dahl at school. On hearing this, the first image that came to my mind was that of the five-year-old Matilda standing atop a stack of books in my drawing room! Without taking out the book for a look, or taking a break, I had finished the cover picture in no time! There. I had paid my tribute to both Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

(Illustration by Urna Ghosh)