Saturday, January 11, 2014

Agatha Christie and her sweet little childhood

I was just going through the wonderful posts of A Homemaker’s Utopia and loved her take on some of the classic authors like Tagore and Tolstoy. It is always great to read about old-age authors from the point of view of someone who has utmost admiration and knowledge for classics. So, in that regard, I’d say this post is directly influenced and inspired from the A Homemaker’s Utopia’s blog.

Currently, I am reading the autobiography of Agatha Christie. Mind it, it is an autobiography and not a biography. Though a biography can be as good, but at the end of the day, it is just a well-researched compilation of known facts about the person. An autobiography, on the other hand, is a direct window into the mind of the person and can be a treat for his fans and followers.

This book is deliciously thick and with tiny prints, just the way most classics are. Of the 600-odd pages, I have barely scraped through the first 100 at the moment. But I am already richer.

I feel Agatha must have gone through heavy bouts of nostalgia while penning this down. She wrote it during her final years and the first print of the book released after her death. So, in her mind, she retraced her steps from the ending point of her life to the starting point as she began narrating her journey right from her toddlerhood.

She had a pretty normal childhood. Her parents, she recounts, were a happy couple and stayed so throughout, till the unfortunate, and untimely, demise of her father when Agatha was around 11. He had succumbed to an illness and his wife (i.e. Agatha’s mother) was completely shattered.
Agatha had an elder sister called Madge and a brother called Monty. But they lived in their old world (due to the age gap) and Agatha spent the major part of her formative years under the wings of her nanny.
Agatha was quite a curious child and took to reading very early in her life. Her parents objected to the idea that children should be allowed to read before the age of 8 or 9. But incidentally, Agatha’s nanny told her parents one day- ‘Your daughter can read’. Agatha was just 5 at that time. Of course, her parents were upset with that development. After that, Agatha developed the habit of reading regularly and enjoyed it tremendously. You can say that even before turning 10, she was what we say ‘a voracious reader’.

There was an incident when Agatha stumbled onto a tabooed book in their library upstairs. It was an adult French book which children were not supposed to read. Her dad was furious when he caught her reading that. But Agatha merely shrugged, not knowing why he was so angry. She was, in any way, not able to take in any word written in that book.

~Ritesh Agarwal

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