A second later I stepped back, disappointed. It was not Like Water for Chocolate after all. It was Enid Blyton's In the Fifth at Malory Towers, hardbound, the paper browned and going brittle. I must have bought it off the street in Bangalore.
The book instantly transported me. Summer holidays. My parents' house. My aunt* would ply me with Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and whatever other books struck her fancy at the local library. I would disappear into my room, prop up my pillows, pull my covers up to my chin and be thoroughly useless for anything else the next few hours.
One day, around mid-afternoon, I heard a strange wailing noise followed by sobs coming from my mother's room. I threw off the covers and rushed to the doorway of her room, not really knowing what to expect. I'd never heard my mother sobbing loudly before.
From the doorway I saw her. My mother was half-collapsed on her pillows, clutching her stomach with one hand. Tears streamed down her face which she half-heartedly tried to wipe away when she was not clutching her stomach. The other hand held a Malory Towers book.
She was laughing.
When I'd finished yelling at her for making me worried and got her to calm down she told me what was so funny. Something about some powder that became invisible when you rubbed it on to a stool but showed up a bright pink when someone sat on the stool and warmed it.
I summoned up all of my tweenage disdain for humor of that sort, smiled my superior smile and walked off.
Secretly, though, my heart swelled. She, whose wisdom even I was not so stupid as to not recognize even in the middle of my worst rebellious phase, thought that the things in my world were funny. That they were worth enjoying.
I held the book in my hand and slowly turned the pages, not wanting to damage it any more. The first page had a girl's name written in capital letters, and the seal of a library made with an ink pad. Another girl's name written in a neat cursive with a red ball point pen adorned the second page. In the same handwriting, a little note in the middle of the page written with a pencil:
When I am right no one remembers. When I am wrong no one forgets.Teenage. Angst.
P.S.: Chox recently wrote about some great book finds in Bangalore.
* Yes, the sakkare achchu aunt.