Dhanno likes reading the girlie books by Meg Cabot, Jacqueline Wilson, Georgia Byng. Why deny it, I do, too. The other day, we had a big row because I read a new book before she did. What’s the big deal, I thought, a book is a book, the older the better. I like old books, library books, stolen books, stinky-smelly musty books, falling-apart books, long-forgotten books, books that are liable to give me thousands of germs. But to Dhanno, the book was a shiny, new thing which I had somehow spoilt.

To get her back on me, she said, “You won’t even remember the story in a week’s time”. I said, “Well, I can tell it to you now.” She screeched. She said, “Tell me the story of the book you read last week – Avalon High“. I said, “It’s about a … school.” She rolled her eyes and said, “Tell me something that is not so obvious.” I rolled my eyes and made funny faces to get out of a sticky situation, but she was not letting me go.

“Ok, tell me about that book you liked so much – Double Act“. “It’s about twins”, I said facetiously. “Oh yeah, and what about that book – Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism“. “Oh, I remember that, it’s about this girl, Molly who knows hypnotism, and becomes a model, and very rich, and there are all these other kids who are imprisoned, and she rescues them, and they all run away.” She said, “NO ONE runs away in the book.”

“Fine, so I confess I am a book-binge-r, and hardly ever remember what I’ve read. That’s why I think it’s really good you read so little, but read it well, and remember it,” I said, to make peace.

At the FTII hostel, with Dhanno, a little infant, curled up beside me in bed, I’d be reading, lost somewhere, and then suddenly she would kick the book, and I’d look at her, and she’d look back with an angry scowl. No wonder it took her years to bother with reading a book, unless she was told to.