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I have been a book worm my whole life. And trust me, with all my frailties, I have never once regretted being a book worm. While the others I knew, were busy with their stuff, I would happily lose myself in any book. And I found great pleasure in it.
I never knew that I was going to regret it one day.
That morning started harmlessly enough. I was watching the advertisement in the newspaper and was almost over the moon about it. Probably my husband figured out that I was very close to exploding with excitement, as he dumped the bucket of water which he brought in after washing the car and sneaked in from behind trying to see what I was reading.
"I want to go to the book fair!" I said finally, when it got to a stage that I could not read the paper with his head blocking the entire view.
The complete lack of enthusiasm from my husband was not only expected, it was even understandable. Considering the number of times I have burnt dishes, because I forgot all about cooking reading books, I am surprised that my husband even puts up with my voracious reading. And that is why I was shocked when I heard his reply.
"I will take you!" he said putting on his most winning smile.
The first thing I did do was try to remember whether it was my birthday. I mean, it was obvious that I had missed something. Otherwise this reaction was completely not even expected.
I drew a blank on that one. And I was a little more worried, wondering whether it was my wedding day. I was almost sure it was not, but then it was always better to check these things instead of just assuming something.
Luckily (?), it was neither and my husband was still making the offer and watching me expectantly. And I was very reluctant. The reason for my reluctance was fairly simple. I liked reading books all by myself. Having a watchman along, pointing at the watch and reminding me that I had to eat or something trivial like that, always annoyed me to no end.
What is the worst which can go wrong? I asked myself as I nodded my head.
I should have said no, like a smart girl. But I guess, we all make bad decisions.
"Evening, five!" was all my husband said.
Eight hours and back from office, promptly, at five, we left the apartment.
And as we got out of the apartment in our car, I figured something that I should have known a long time back. Our city is filled with people and it seems all of them have to get back to their homes at five in the evening. And the minute we came to the street with our car, I barely saw the tar road beneath us. All I did see were cars honking, trucks honking and (heaven forbid) a huge crane in the middle of the road. The last thing did confuse me for a few seconds, but then there was a part of me which was wondering how it would be if the crane honked, because the truck honking was already threatening to shatter my ear drums. (Ok! I get it! That is not what normal people think in these circumstances.)
I was sorely tempted to go to the front of the traffic lights and pick up a huge mike and yell at the people and tell them that honking was not going to get them home. Luckily, the fear that I would be trampled over by the vehicles kept my insane desire firmly in my head.
And we had crossed about a kilometer, when my husband had the next brilliant idea – a short cut. It would have been a brilliant idea had not at least a hundred drivers before us got the same idea. And so we turned towards the short cut, having absolutely no idea what was wrong there.
The only thing that did happen after we took the short cut was that I still saw more cars and bikes, with the important difference that this was a much smaller road.
The score now was half an hour and one kilometer away from our home. And I obviously did not tell you the most interesting part. A lot of people also had the brilliant idea of a short cut, after us. So in the end, we were jammed in a small road, with a hundred vehicles before us and ten behind us.
Nothing like music to sooth me down and I hunted up the CDs in the car dashboard and to my shock I found the CDs missing. Like completely missing. I looked at my husband in a near pleading look.
"Oh! I forgot to keep it back." He admitted. "I had taken the CDs out when I was washing the car." He should have kept his mouth shut with that. But obviously he had to try and ease my suffering. "Don't worry! I will sing for you."
That part of my memory is totally wiped out because of trauma. Imagine being a cramped vehicle unable to get out because there is no space and really wanting to get out because something terrible is happening inside the cramped vehicle. That was exactly how I felt then.
Luckily, two kilometers and half an hour later, my husband ran out of breath and I sighed in relief. The book fair was a distant dream. I was just hoping to make it back home, without my head exploding. My perceptive husband seemed to figure that out after his singing and that was when our car did a really weird thing.
The car shuddered for a few seconds and suddenly stopped. When I mean stopped, I actually mean stopped. The car refused to move. That would have been unnoticeable, because we were not moving anyway. The fact that my husband had stopped singing made my senses sharper as I realized that the car was not vibrating.
After a few seconds of cranking the key, my husband got out the car and was tinkering with the open bonnet.
"Probably the water entered the carburetor, when I was washing it." he told me.
For a second I was wondering whether I was supposed to understand that sentence, because other than washing and water, nothing else made sense from the sentence. I did have an incongruous image of a car being dried hanging from a clothes-clip and gave it up because it just made me laugh like a hyena. And considering that I was in a proper traffic jam with a broken down car, that seemed to be the wrong reaction.
A few good Samaritans who wanted to get on their way to home, helped us by getting our car to the side.
And I had reached that state, where I knew that nothing else could go wrong and I was ready to become completely philosophical about not going to the book fair (which honestly was the last thing on my head right then).
I was watching my husband work on the car engine, with occasional comments from the passerby who had to offer helpful tips of how to get the car working again. Half an hour later, my husband told me something which I knew long back.
"I can't get the car working today!" he announced.
The book fair was out and since I had not cooked, it seemed advisable that we have our dinner out. We entered the hotel outside which our car stopped and ordered for just some plain sandwich and noodles.
The reason for my choice was simple. These were the only two dishes where the number of things which could go wrong were minimum, and considering our luck today, it seemed pertinent to keep the number of things going wrong to a minimum.
The chef was obviously having a bad day. Probably his wife did not take him to the book fair (or his wife did take him to the book fair, who knew?). Because the food was bad. I could give you a long list of rants about the food alone, which included the sandwich being burnt and the noodles being oily and the vegetable not being properly cooked. Well it would have been a really long list and completely boring.
So anyway, after stuffing ourself with that, (On a principle, I am not calling that food.) we caught an auto and we were back home, an hour later. (The book fair was closed, in case you did not figure it out.)
And I went to bed for the very simple reason I was more than sure, that any attempts at conversation with my husband was going to be completely inadvisable today. I was actually worried that he would start apologizing to me and then I would completely lose it.
I woke up the next day, feeling astonishing fresh. The bad things of yesterday had completely washed itself away from my head and I looked at the clock and saw that I was overslept. A lot. And that was when I saw a book peaking out from near the alarm clock.
Hastily I pulled it and was almost trembling with joy. Because this book was the very reason I wanted to go to the fair.
And the best part of the book was not inside the cover. It was a hastily scribbled piece of paper outside the book. Because of paper had three of the most beautiful sentences I had read in a long time.
To the woman who burns my dishes, and stays with me through all the car breakdowns, my singing and my poor hotel choices.