A Letter to My 4-Month Old-Niece by Shruti Ramanujam

 

Woman's hand around baby's feet
Mother’s Love by Vinoth Chandar. CC license.

Dear Dhriti,

You’re 4 months old now and have learned how to lie on your stomach and roll over again. You’re reaching for teethers and toys, your mom proudly declares when I badger her for baby deets. She says this is fast, but all I want to scream is “Motor, you slowpoke!”

Can’t you grow a little faster? Can’t you see that I’m waiting for you to start reading? I want to buy you your first book and hopefully, all the books in your future bookshelf.

I’ll start you on fairytales and then bring you down by telling you happy endings aren’t for everyone. We’ll fangirl over Beauty and the Beast together and I’ll gift you all the subsequent retellings of it. I’ll let you say Belle is your favorite Disney Princess for the first few years of your life, but I’ll also explain to you how Stockholm syndrome is a thing.

miniature wooden boat on display
Untitled by Margaret Campbell. CC license.

Your mom and I loved Disney’s Pocahontas as children, so we’ll let you have your phase too. But we’ll also explain all the historical inaccuracies in Disney’s version and make you fall in love with the real Pocahontas instead.

I’ll get you into Harry Potter, because how can you love books without having read Harry Potter? I’ll watch you going to Hogwarts, getting sorted into your house, and eating in the Great Hall. I’ll be there when Dementors are in the castle, I’ll be there when Sirius dies, I’ll be there when Ron leaves the camp in the 7th book. But I’ll also be there when he comes back. We’ll have passionate arguments on whether Snape was a good man and we’ll curse Rowling for The Cursed Child existing.

I’ll introduce you to classics. We’ll discuss Faulkner’s stream-of-consciousness writing style, the communist manifesto that is Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and the post-colonial feminism in Austen’s works. Oh and, when you’re old enough, I’ll hide your mom and explain all the possible dirty jokes in Austen’s books to you, rears and vices and all.

We’ll laugh over my old blog posts together and I’ll show you how I reviewed advance reader’s editions of the books of now famous authors. I’ll teach you my condescending “But, have you read the book it was adapted from?” voice and cackle when you use it on your own mom (sorry, M!).

But most of all, I want to learn from you. I want you to recommend books to me. I want you to have different opinions than me about some books. Isn’t that how we grow as individuals? Insult my favorite books however you see fit. Tell me why Ayn Rand’s philosophy is too idealist. Ask me why I still love Jodi Picoult despite her repetitive stories. All this will only make me love you more.

And when my eyesight goes bad from old age, I want you to read to me. Because I can’t live without books and I’m hoping you’ll feel that way too.

Sincerely,

Your crazy aunt.

PS: Young lady, you better like books. If you don’t, the stork will take you back.

bookcase filled with books


Shruti Ramanujam

Shruti Ramanujam is a blogger who enjoys reading and reviewing books. She’s usually got her nose in a book and slouches from the metaphorical weight of all the books she’s yet to read on her shoulders. When she’s not reading or writing about herself in the third person, she binge-watches TV shows and makes self-deprecating jokes.

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