Everyone who knows me, must have seen me at least once with my nose in book, lost in the world built by the author. I have been a voracious reader since I was kid and surprisingly never tried to think back to the time I started loving books. Now that I think back, I believe my mom is to blame for it as it all started when she bought me all the classics like 20,000 leagues under the sea, Moby dick, Heidi, Black Beauty, etc and at the same got me subscriptions to Chandamama, Champak and my favorite of them all Tinkle!
I remember checking the letter box everyday immediately after returning from school to check if the latest issue had been delivered. After a couple of years, I turned my attention to Enid Blyton and the Chandamama and Champak subscriptions were discarded but Tinkle continued on. The reason for this had less to do with the magazine itself and more to do with its editorAnant Pai, who was known to all children as Uncle Pai.
I had the pleasure of meeting him once, when he had come to Pune and I look back on it with a smile on my face. He was very kind to a little girl who had been in a tiny accident on route to the meeting and had a few scratches. He also ensured that her grandfather who had a cut on his arm received first aid and was offered refreshment. He did all this while handling some 30-40 kids who had come to attend the mythology quiz he was conducting. Last week I read that he had passed away and I felt sad. Sad that I didn't keep in touch with him as I went from a young reader to an adult, Sad that I didn't let him know, that when I travel in a train, I invariably buy a Tinkle Digest to read even now. I should have also told him, that my fascination of Hindu mythology began with tales heard from my great grandmother and watching Ramayana & Mahabharata on DoorDarshan but a lot of incidents that I can be heard quoting these days are sourced from Amar Chitra Katha. Most of all I felt sad for all Tinkle readers who will never again receive a letter signed "Uncle Pai".
And so based on a suggestion from my friend Suman, I am going to share letters from him, that I have kept for all these years. Rest In Peace Uncle Pai. You will be missed by readers all over!
My first rejection letter.
The second one!
The stickers that were always sent with his letters