It took a long time - but we have finally cracked it open.
Not for want of reading it again. I still remember the first time Dad read it through with the three of us hanging on his every breath.
The question was whether we were ready for it. Both in terms of being able to follow the story and being able to squeeze in the time.
Given the prodigious amounts of books that Asha and Enoch devour (Enid Blyton is a current favorite) we knew that the kids would be able to go with us to Middle Earth. Our membership in a local library chain is barely 2 weeks old - and already Asha and Enoch are well known from our frequent visits.
Squeezing in time? Well, day still only has 24 hours in it. A generation ago Dad managed to squeeze reading the Lord of the Rings to us - and he was hardly less busy than we are today.
And so on a glorious day in February we started our journey.
Appropriately we managed to get a Saturday afternoon off as a family and hiked up to the ridge in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It was like going to a different world in itself. The entire time we only saw 3 people. Out in the forest, we made some tea using sticks and stones for our stove - and then cracked it open.
Reading about hobbit holes and Bilbo's going away party under the blue sky and narry a concrete monstrosity in sight is a perfect way to spend a memorable afternoon.
But then again, the glory of a book is that it can take you with it. We do not have too much choice - we live in one of the concrete monstrosities we had escaped from that afternoon. Our windows are situatied in a way where folks in the neighbouring high-rise can look into if they jolly-well-please. Our kitchen overlooks a bank of flats and we can see that most of our neighbours on that side spend most of their time with huge TVs on 'round the clock. The glory of the book - however - is that when we read we go into the world of imagination.
As the words are read aloud, we leave Thane and walk through the barren hills, hiding from the Black Riders and other unspeakable horrors, stepping forward with hope and fear through strange landscapes towards the home of Elrond the Elf Lord of Rivendell.
I have read the Lord of the Rings at least 4 times now - and it still captivates. The sheer joy of the journey. The sheer thrill of the clear and present danger. The beauty and sorrow of recognising essential truths - which are so often drowned out in the static of our day-in-and-day-out-clutter-filled-lives.
Hooray for Tolkein! Our last few weeks have seen small spurts of us Eichers following the journey. We finally made it to Rivendell last week and are resting before the next steps in the epic. Even though I have been there before I enjoy every minute of it. And it is enhanced by being able to see expressions on the faces of the other 3 Eichers for whom this is all virgin territory!
Its such a joy to share our lives.