All my siblings read to me from time to time when I was little, not just Lukas. ‘Nette was actually quite the bookworm. But I didn’t really discover the beautiful world of literature and the blissful escape it can provide until I was 11 years old. The first book to open that hatch for me, into another, saner world, was the Satanic Mill by Ottfried Preussler. I was sitting in one of the ugly orange moulded-plastic seats outside ‘Nette’s hospital room. My mum was inside with her and the docs, and I was scared shitless. I was supposed to have read the Satanic Mill weeks ago, the test was in 2 days, and I thought, what the hell. Anything to take my mind off the false smiles, the hollow promises, and most of all off the desperation in my mother’s face as she made herself believe the lies.
And you know what? It worked like a charm. From page 2 onward I was lost in the strange, bleak, romantic, magical world of the boy Krabat and his fight against the evil miller. I kept reading every free minute I could scrounge up, deep into the night, and by the next evening I was through. I remember the moment of waking when I suddenly ran out of words the way Wile E. Coyote runs out of street to stand on. I flailed and grasped for anything to keep me from plummeting down into the harsh chasm of reality. What my fingers found and clung to was ‘Nette’s bookshelf. I opened Michael Ende’s Neverending Story, and I suppose I haven’t stopped reading since.
Of course there were comments in school and at football training. But two of my psychopathic fights later those comments died. Reading didn’t make me soft. It made me somewhat numb, however, and that was exactly what it was supposed to do. Is it a wonder then that I found my true vocation in a book?