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When everything around you is collapsing, hope fading away into oblivion, you feel like giving in to the feeling of capitulation and breaking apart. Since the past few months, I have written little to nothing about what I have undergone mentally, but I can vouch for the fact that during this period books have helped to resuscitate my ailments to the brink of positivity. Reading history has always been my passion, the happenings, the past and major events have always aroused my interest.

My interest in reading had waned and I became distant from books like I had cast them away and locked them up for good. As my problems with anxiety and panic disorder compounded my miserable state of affairs, I was abject, hopeless, despondent and deprecated. I had hauled myself into a dead end, a point of no return and a state of self-induced apathy that was only aggravating my misery. The self-implosion was evident, there was no scope for hope and positivity in my mind or heart. I was hell-bent upon believing that recovery was an impossibility and fallacy by the mid of June. There was no effort to counter this anomaly, I kept suffering within and refusing to give myself a breather.

Devoid of energy, like a lifeless corpse lying on the bed with severe anxiety attacks, I was unable to chart myself through this turbulent period. These are trials and tribulations so to speak, a test of our tenacity, the survival of our spirit and how we respond to it. There is no strategy, methodical approach which can work miracles in an instant and make things wonderful for us. It is a long grind, hard-earned way to recovery and restoring ourselves. In the realm of darkness, I had deliberately surrounded myself with, my unwillingness to escape and fight it was strikingly evident. There was no coping mechanism, no effort to reverse the tide of misfortune I had brought upon myself thanks to my obstinance.

Call it a stroke of luck or my good fortune, I picked up my smartphone without thinking and started searching for history books on Amazon that I could read on my Kindle. Till that point, several months had passed, probably even a year since I had divulged myself into reading a book. While browsing on Amazon, I came across a book Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary on the 24th of June which piqued my interest and I got it to read on my Kindle. What I never realized then what I was about to initiate and the reverberations it would have three months down the road.

The resumption of reading history started with the usual distractions and disturbances. My focus and concentration levels initially were appalling. Previously, I had been a voracious reader with an unprecedented appetite for history and swift reading speed. Initially, I stuttered understandably since it had been an eternity since I had actually read any book so to speak. I was exasperated, frustrated by this development and my impatience knew no bounds. I have my bouts of anger which added to my failure and impeded my flow of reading. I was desperate for my old self to renew in terms of reading and seeing it bear fruition.

The first few days were tough, filled with panic and disruption as I found it difficult to get my flow going. It was exacerbating, painful to see myself labour through at a pace of a tortoise while reading. However, slowly and painstakingly the efforts started bearing fruit, my concentration and focus saw a positive turn. Just a few days ago, I was tottering and dawdling at the brink of capitulating again to my endless frustration of the hindrances I faced in restoring my flow while reading and here I was now on the mend. That day, it made me realize the value of perseverance and of continuing the journey, irrespective of what impediments lie ahead. As I prodded slowly page after page, the flow that had been absent or ebbed showed signs of crystallizing.

Finally, my pace and flow of reading fueled my engrossment in the book. Previously, I had failed to even read a few pages without being distracted and now I was steaming ahead at breathtaking speed, finishing chapter after chapter. It was unbelievable! Within a matter of three to four days, not only had I successfully rekindled my interest in reading, but I was enjoying it now. What began as a laborious exercise, became a renaissance and bane of my recovery from the depths of depravity just a week or so ago. I was able to finish the book by the end of June and move onto the next one.

My next book was about Islamic Spain and the Convivencia written by Maria Rosa Menocal named The Ornament of the World. I began the book with an eagerness to complete it as fast I could, it wasn’t a race with anyone but my resurrection as an avid reader that fueled my desire to forge ahead. I started reading the book, so engrossing it was, that I finished it within a matter of days. It seemed like I was living a dream, but I didn’t stop and kept pushing myself to consolidate the momentum I had successfully created. I had conquered my worst nightmare, overcome my anxiety and depression, books were to be the bane of my recovery and resuscitation.

Moving onto the next book, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain written by Brian A. Carlos proved to be a colossal challenge. This was the first book where my nerves and tenacity were tested to the utmost limit. I started with a bang, finishing the first few chapters in a blink of an eye before I realized that the book was detailed. As daunting a task, it was, I dithered slightly, fearful that I may not be able to finish this book. I took a pause, recalibrated my thoughts and composed myself. I decided I would give myself a break of a day and then resume the book. Much to my surprise, the strategy paid dividends and after that break, I was able to resume my reading, my unbridled focus allowed me to read for long periods with no distractions. Consequently, I successfully completed the book within a weeks’ time, my third in less than a month!

The renaissance and this remarkable journey of resuscitation continue. My book reading has only increased my vigour, passion, appetite to read more, amplify my knowledge and learning. The curiosity that has piqued my interest in history over the past decade has been a boon to me. Reading has been a calming influence, helped me reduce my stress levels and brought me much needed peace that I had sought. In these three months, I have successfully completed fourteen books and in the previous month, I have read six which include the recently released The Anarchy: The Rise and Fall of the East India Company written by William Dalrymple.

Books are the seeds of learning and knowledge. They are priceless treasures that I have realized need succour and care. Love books, value and treasure them, in them lies the power of transformation and which can unlock the door to infinite learning/knowledge.