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Growing up with Moley

"I am thirty five today. I am officially middle- aged. It is all downhill from now. A pathetic slide towards gum disease, wheelchair ramps and death" - Adrian Mole

The first time I got to know Adrian Mole was when my aunt gave me Sue Townsend's "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4". I think I was about to turn thirteen then. The book was a rollicking ride of self discovery and empathy. I remember that me and my mates from school had a great time reading about Aidy's love for Pandora, his obsession with his spots, his constant measuring with his foot ruler, his run ins with his principal, his pains as an 'intellectual' and his chaotic life of adolescent self doubt and discovery. I think this was one of the most circulated book amongst us. It had, as my aunt wrote in the book, 'helped me grow up'.

My encounter with Aidy didn't end there. We discovered in college that the Adrian Mole series had grown and we got hold which had a few more diaries detailing his life as he grew older - True Confessions, The Wilderness Years.

I then came across his 'Cappuccino Years' when I'd moved out of home and shifted to Bombay. That's when Adrian had moved out to and was coming to terms with fatherhood and his attempts to be a celebrity chef.

The last rendition in the series is 'Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction' where he turns 35. I bought it when I turned 31 and read it during my birthday trip to Goa. That was in 2005.

I picked up the book from the bookshelf a couple of days back. I couldn't put it down till I reached the last page. I had read it before but still hung onto every word this time. But that's not strange. I must have read the Secret Diary more than five times at the least. I was lost in Adrian's world in the WMD and at times was shocked by the way we connected.. Which is funny because this is not a self help Chicken Stew, Middle Class Dad, Children are from Saturn book. This is just a work of humour.

I then did the math and suddenly realised that this the period when Aidy reached 35. I had earlier read the book when I turned 31. But I am now 35 and could relate to so many things in the book.

Self obsessed, neurotic, living from one failure to failure, depressed, klutz with 'a futon and a few pots and pans to show after thirty five years' ... I guess it would have been more fashionable to say that one connects with James Bond, Rhett Butler or a host of other fictional characters... after all this blog is not a 'secret diary'. But Adrian Mole and I go back too far back for that. So I won't add myself to the list of people in his life who have disowned him.

It's really amazing how Sue Townsend is so insightful and can draw out the psyche of Adrian as he grows up. That's real sensitivity. It takes a lot to understand a person of the opposite sex so well. Especially if you writing the book as a diary with daily recounts of a person's life and thoughts.

I really hope the series doesn't end. The time has come for Adrian Mole to turn forty.

Perhaps Adrian could write one of his famous letters to Ms Townsend.

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