I learnt how to read when I was four years old. It’s my first childhood memory, and I remember it quite vividly. The way the letters which some days before had only represented the pitches and flow of my mother’s voice as she narrated a story, suddenly became symbols of definition and hence created a new world of imagination for me, a world of fantasy.
The boy could fly, my mother might have read to me and I gazed at her lips, and then at the page I was unable to distinguish the different words on, let alone the letters of the alphabet. Until that one day when I suddenly became aware of the sound of each letter. Beee. Ooooh. Waeee – Boy.
I felt like I’d cracked the omerta code. The revolution had begun for me! I could not stop reading after that, reading everything from product labels to license plates, much to the annoyance of my parents – CWGV23 – seeweegeevee 23. This past time has continued until this day, although thankfully I’ve now ditched the labels reading.
Apart from learning how to read, and how to whistle (which took weeks of dedicated practice and hence must have its place as a permanent memory in my left lobe) , I don’t remember any other infant ‘firsts’. Not how to tie my shoelaces. Or, how not to put the right shoe on my left foot. Or how to use a knife and fork… But reading I do remember.