The Reader

It was hot and dry, terse and tense as if in wait for something, something momentous something tragic. The compartment was crammed with a multitude of people, tongues foreign, smells foreign, looks foreign and still they merged together, they twisted and twined.  The door slammed my entry in, a cursory glance a silent mention of curiousity and then it began again, the noise of the living. The commotion enhanced my worry, my brow split in fear and furrows. The train seemed to thud alongwith me and yet unlike it, I hadn’t moved an inch. Jolted, I scrambled to my seat, faded blue with passengers stained reminiscent of the coffee and the meals, there I sat.They were a family of six hovering over a baby, boisterous in their love with the nagging and the whining. The curly haired object of their attention stared at me transfixed, eyes wide open, the size of tea cups, she stared. They cooed. They clapped still she stared. She looked as I might have in her age, the hair the eyes the mouth slightly opened, wary in wonderment was all mine. My fingers with no warning trailed my face, she stretched out her tiny fingers to me while I cringed mine.

When I was a child, amazement was a blink away to me. The world fascinated me, speechless almost. I didnt speak a word tilll I turned five and the words found me. My parents carted me to doctors everywhere, as if the place bettered the calibre, they tested and prodded, cuddled and coddled I still remained silent. An uncle gave me a book when I turned five. If I close my eyes, I still remember it, the blue book, slim and thin tailor made to be held by my small, chubby fingers. I spoke to say the words out loud, to feel the roll and stretch. The words made me feel  in some inexplicable way my feelings began from them, were defined by them and not the other way around, and so I read with the kind of ravenous voracity only children posses and I read, by the time I grew up I was still unsure that it caught up with me, for I was ever so adamantly sure that if I crouched low enough, small enough with a book in my lap, He might just not seem, might just pass over me and I could stay within that limbo where only what laid before me mattered and nothing else.

The veils were always alluringly translucent to me. Their hands reached out to me through them veils like sirens in the sea, calling out to me, promising me, worlds unfathomable and infinite joy. The fear began when the veil was no more. It encompassed me. It paralysed me their existence so harmless when divided so frightening when invisible. I never doubted what they said, why would they lie, what could they possibly gain from me. I was nothing special. I was just a reader.

The baby still stretched her hands out to me. I blinked at her guiless eyes and I stretched mine out too.


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