About ten years ago, one day, I was waiting for my train at the Asansol railway station. Near me, was sitting a man, a book in his hand- a big volume novel. After introducing and a little chatting with him, I learned the gentleman would have to wait for his train the whole day. But my train was due to arrive after three hours. Both of us were Bengali. So, a moment later, I asked him, “May I see your book, please?”
‘Of course, please-’
Normal and desired response. Right away, I immersed myself in the book and forgot the scorching summer noon and excessive heat emanating from the tin roof of the railway station.
What a fascinating novel! I said in my mind.
The owner of the book squinted at me and knitted his brow. Then he took a timetable and focus on it while I kept devouring the book.
What an excellent book!
In fact, it was the best novel I had ever read and it held me enthralled.
Two hours passed.
Flipping the timetable for some time, at last, the gentleman glanced at me and said, “Your train would arrive soon, so now…”
And then he cleared his throat.
I was spellbound then. I peeped at the wrist-watch and saw that I still had one hour in my hand. But more than half of the book was still left. Hence, I didn’t waste time by chatting and continued pouring over the book.
What a splendid book!
The remaining hour flew away. Bell chimed to announce the arriving of my train. A good part of the book was still left. But I went mad to finish it and told him, “I will go by the next train- I must finish it.” At the words, the owner gave a polite cough and fell silent.
The train arrived and left the station while I kept myself buried in the book.
But I couldn’t finish reading the book, as at the back, many pages were ripped out.
I told the owner, “Oh, many pages are torn out! Why didn’t you mention it before? Shit”
At my words, the gentleman gave me a blank stare. Also, I noticed his veins popped out.
Ten years after the incident, I reached another copy of the book in my niece’s husband’s house. To escort her, I went there and was supposed to come back the same day. But longing to read the book obliged me to lodge. In leisure time, I took the book and dipped into it. I resolved to read the entire book from the beginning, not the last part only.
After some pages, I had a doubt if it was the same book. So, to become certain, I flip through it and found it was the very book, whereupon I wade through some more pages. But it failed to entice me. Yet, I went on. After a while, I perceived I couldn’t take it anymore. I wondered if it was the same book that had beguiled me at one hot summer noon at Asansole railway station.
How could one write this rubbish! Finishing it was impossible.
I didn’t even realize when I had lost my avid interest in reading books.
Now I couldn’t finish the book, either.