Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A quick tale 202

Unfinished business

Behind the sofa in the living room, where it was too dark for anyone to notice, the half-read books of the neighbourhood were having their annual general meeting. There were Tolstoys, Murakamis, Pamuks, Joyces and quite a few management books whose authors’ names are irrelevant to this story. As with each year, War & Peace opened the day’s proceedings. In his welcome address, he regaled the conference with his favourite anecdote about a young girl who used to read War & Peace to her bedridden grandfather every day. And with each page, her grandfather’s health improved until one day, somewhere near the last chapter, she skipped a page. And her grandfather passed away that very afternoon.

The delegates clapped appreciatively and soon dispersed to attend the various workshops being conducted throughout the day. There was ‘A book is forever, not just for Christmas’ where several books that had been gifted through the holidays aired their angst at the disservice done to them. There was ‘Never been touched’ where books that had never been pried open by eager hands cried their hearts out. The ‘I’m an autobiography, get me out of here’ section was buzzing with books that held the lives of people famous and infamous but had languished for want of readers who looked beyond the photographs. And then there was the hugely popular ‘Borrowed and never browsed’ section which attracted loads of dissatisfied books from the local library who spoke of readers who had not taken the time to plod through the plot and instead picked up a movie version of the book.

The organisers had thoughtfully arranged for grooming sessions where the books could have their dog ears straightened and the coffee stains paled. But by evening, as hard-covers dusted off their jackets and as paperbacks slid bookmarks back in their midst and everyone had vented their hatred of the Harry Potter series (of course, they weren't jealous!), a sense of gloom had descended. The books sulked back into the shelves and bedside tables they came from. Tonight, they vowed, they will make extra effort and refuse to be shut when their reader fell asleep with the pages agape. No, they will not be quietened down until they have been read through. The end.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A quick tale 201


And so, I find myself closeted inside the toilet of a running train. With a rare moment to speculate. All around me, graffiti has been scratched out on the walls. There is quite a lot of female anatomy with the parts helpfully marked out. There are some male organs scratched out as well. I was also informed that S loves BC, that K is a whore and that GH is a homo. Someone calling himself J had advertised for ‘performance enhancing medicines’ adding his mobile number for anyone interested in his offer. I finish my business, wash my hands and somehow feel compelled to add my own thoughts to this myriad of beliefs, opinions and statements. I find a ball point pen in my handbag and stand there wondering what to say. I cannot recall any witty limericks or riddles. I have few secrets that I’d like to share with my fellow passengers who may use this toilet. As for drawing the female anatomy, my own reference doesn’t serve me very well. Finally, I settle for a single word. I mark out 'STRIFE' in an empty corner. I lean back to admire my work. Oddly satisfied and feeling decidedly better, I dust my hands and deposit the pen back in my bag. As I settle down next to the husband, he looks up at me as if to wonder what took me so long. I sigh gently and look outside at the passing landscape.