Grim mahogany walls, glimmered indoors with a mild scent, zen-like silence infrequently interrupted by human murmurs. Perfect home for me. Well, my foster home.
The little local library of our community. St Brooke's library.
Situated right across the lake, this is the most picturesque location I have ever been in. We SciFi folks live on the shelf on the third row/fourth column, exactly opposite the only window of the library. On my right are the funny guys, the likes of 'The last girlfriend on Earth' et al. On my left are the deep and wise self-help guys. We are the geeky nerds of our place.
I came here four months ago. Although I saw a lot of my clan here, I didn't know how I would cope. But with the company of wise souls like 'The Time Machine', 'Frankenstein', 'The Stand', and many more, I came to call this place my home rather quickly. It does get a little lonely at times, but I have my friend 'I feel bad about my neck' with me always. Always.
Occasionally we go on short vacations to our readers' homes. We get to travel and savor the stories at the reader's place. Upon return, we share our tales over long talks.
Just today morning, 'Frankenstein' returned from Mrs.Baker's place. We had missed her and had to catch up. She was telling us how Mrs. Baker was smitten by her, and how she loved the decors on the walls. We were completely engrossed in the talks when suddenly a very familiar voice startled me.
"Is The Sky that spoke available today?"
It was Mom. Why was she inquiring about me at the counter?
My past went reeling in front of my eyes.
Mom was extremely happy when she conceived me. She wasn't sure if she was ready, but she decided to keep me anyway. She christened me 'The Sky that spoke', but would fondly call me Tom.
She would celebrate every milestone with pomp and cheer.
"Tom, you are one page old! Tom, you already are five pages old - we would need a bookmark for you soon!", she would exclaim with sheer maternal happiness.
I got my first gift when I was just a few pages old; a bookmark that Mom made herself. A bright white and red checkered origami bookmark. It had a beautiful but complicated mandala design in the top left. And on the bottom right were the words, "Keep reading baby".
I kept studying the circles in the mandala, the beautiful patterns trying to decipher the wisdom in the symmetry. Then the folds on the bookmark, and then the letters. As I read the letters, I suddenly realized that they started to rearrange themselves as my eyes moved. Swirling one over another, as my consciousness directed them.
I discovered I could rearrange letters on the note by using all letters that existed right there. Not a letter more, not one less. So I had just uncovered my superpower of forming anagrams from what was written on the bookmark!
This was freaking crazy! I mean, I could communicate with Mom! Well, everything was different from then on.
Things started changing as I got older for school. Mom would look through prospective schools for my admission. We would sit across the table anxiously, ready to confidently take on the teachers or the Principal.
One would say I lacked depth because there were not enough metaphors in my manuscript. One would say I lacked structure. Another would say I was too different for the crowd. The result was that I could not get admission into any reasonably good school.
I lost count of how many interviews we went to. I remember one day, she came home and broke down. I was her dream child. But with so many rejections, she slowly started losing faith in me. And seeing her, I started losing faith in myself.
One night she came home half drunk. I knew something was not right. She sat silently on her chair for about half an hour, then got up suddenly to get fully drunk. She walked up to me, yelled at me, called me names, all sorts. She got hold of a pen that was within her reach and took it up in the air as if to pierce me and rip me apart. Just as the nib was about to reach me, she stopped and pulled out the bookmark. She etched something on it with a force that could easily pierce a twenty paged notebook,
"THIS GODDAMN FAILURE".
And placed it back inside me.
I fail to find words that can describe what I felt that day. I thought I could die.
I could hear Mom sobbing herself to bed that night. I felt sorry for her. After all, what else could I do?
The next morning, she woke up with eyes puffed from crying. I never saw Mom like that before. I was furious over the publishers for making Mom feel so bad. I wished I could punch them in their face. But what could I do, except scrambling the letters on the note?
As Mom got ready, she came over to me, skimmed through the pages to search for the previous day's note,
"IRE, GODDAMN HIS FAULT"
Mom had a poker's face, I didn't know if she noticed it. Anyway, I wasn't sure if she would believe that I indeed was talking to her if she saw it either. I just hoped, and I just did what I could.
Mom decided to homeschool me, with help from a few friends and family. When I did arrive with a stunning book-cover despite being self-published, mom saw that as a victory.
However, this happiness didn't last long. As Mom's financial crunches grew, she decided to take up a job as a primary school teacher, giving up her full-time writing career.
An unfateful day, a reviewer had published a review with rude comments on me. This was the last straw for Mom. She didn't see much use in letting me hang around in the house.
She grabbed a glass of wine again that night, and in a fit of rage, as if writing a note to herself, she scribbled,
"END - GIVE UP TOM".
Really? How could Mom do this? I was still her baby. What if people hated me!
The next morning, I waited for her to reach for the note. I tried telling her in my way,
"DON'T GIVE ME UP".
But no use. She grabbed me, took me to our local library, and said she would give me away free of cost. The library's committee agreed to take me in, I think partly because they feared her rage that day.
She handed me over and drove away in an instant. She didn't care to look back and say a final goodbye.
St. Brooke's became my foster home.
I lived in denial for two weeks. But then I learned that Mom had left for a vacation from one of our community members who was a regular at the library. So she was over me. Yeah, I was just an unsuccessful crippled book.
But what brought back Mom today? What reminded her about me?
Surprisingly, she walked up to me, and placed a note in me,
"LOVE YOU TOM, WELCOME BACK".
I learned that Mom wanted to take me back, but the librarian said she could do it the next day morning owing to some formalities. Mom had said that she wanted to exchange a couple of other books that she didn't love, to get me back in return. She was telling the librarian how much she missed me.
While I understand rage can make people do nasty things without forethought of the after effects - in any kind of relationship, my heart was broken beyond repair. Or at least so I thought. I wasn't ready to go back to someone who gave me up. I was no different from the books she wished to trade me for.
Next day, when she came to pick me up, I rewrote the note,
"WE TOO LACK LOVE U C, BYE MOM".
She stood silent for a minute, and leaned forward. I wondered what new note she'd have for me.
Just then I realised I secretly longed that she took me back and owned up her mistake. Damn! Why did I write what I wrote last?!
To both my horror and surprise, she tore away the note, and whispered with moist eyes, "Sorry baby, we'll never need this again".