Then She Opened the Book

Then She Opened the Book

“Aachoooo.” 

This dust was killing me. But, who would care about the poor bookshelf’s running nose? Gone were those days when I was revered and respected. My erstwhile owner, grandfather of the current one, adored me like a prized possession. His collection of books was an envy of the neighbours. But this junior one, huh. He never read a single word. Dimwit scumbag!

But, wait, what was this sudden dusting ceremony about? The maid was attacking me with her duster as if her life depends on my cleanliness. But, what might be the reason behind this sudden attention?

I tried to check the date on the calendar hanging on the wall. Fourteenth of February. Nay, it’s not the Diwali cleaning. 

“Masi, please clean the shelf properly and put a good book on the table.”

The sound came from the next room. 

“Which book, dada?” Masi was looking at the plethora of books, flabbergasted.

“Ah, take out any good fat book.”

This was getting more bizarre each minute. The one who has always maintained a healthy social distance from me, wanted me to be spic and spine and also planned to read a few books.

Thanking God for this sudden good fortune, I further hoped that this cleaning mission would reveal the termite infestation also and they would do something about it.  

“Dadababu, I have kept a big, fat book on the table.”

“Okay, masi.”

Not a word about the termites. Soon I would perish from all the holes they were digging on my body.

***

“Welcome to my favourite corner of the house. My reading nook.”

And in came a beautiful lass. 

“What a stunning book shelf you own, Mihir. And what a wonderful collection of books. I am totally awed.”

“I knew you’d appreciate it. After all, books are your life.”

Aha, so all this drama was to impress the charming book-loving lady. The mystery was solved.

“Is that the rare collection of The Tagore Birthday book on the table! Oh, my God. This is a gem. Were you reading it now?”

Ah, an enthusiastic reader after a long time. My heart swelled with pride. 

“Yes, I was just reading this book before you arrived. Tagore is someone I keep going back to. In time of happiness and sadness.” Then with a pause added, “Or, during love.”

Wish I could show them my rolling eyes. Such blatant lies. 

“Do you mind if I take a look?”

Then, without waiting for an answer she took up the book and opened it in a haste. And the accident happened.

Crumbs of the brittle pages or what was still left of that poor book poured down on the table. The book was completely eaten from inside. The girl looked at our darling Mihir in utter disbelief. And, Mihir, I would not dare to describe his face. The termites who illegally occupied my territory and was long ignored, just gaped a big hole in Mihir’s budding love life. 
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