A man travels the world in search of what he needs, returns home to find it.~George Moore
|Keying in a resignation letter is never easy - even if you know the job is keeping you in a rut. Vasudha sighed, and closed her eyes tightly for a long moment. Am I doing the right thing? she wondered. Her eyes snapped open, she loaded the printer with two extra-thick extra-white sheets and jabbed "P". As the pages slid out, with her carefully crafted words inked on, a smile spread over her face.
"Miss! Did you keep Inkheart for me?" The voice jerked Vasudha back to reality, and her smile became warmer and more welcoming. Abhijeet was her favourite student. She would miss him when she left. She would miss a lot of them - Gauri, Jheel, Anagha, Aditya - she sighed again. Thank goodness the printer spat its material out face down, or Abhijeet might have glimpsed something of her letter. Darn the printer at home, going on the blink just when she wanted to brandish her resignation letter at the Principal's face!
"Vishvath hasn't returned Inkheart yet," she replied.
"He's had it for two weeks now! Make him give it back. You made me give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory back in one week."
"Inkheart is a thicker book, . It takes time to read it." She was chuckling now. Abhijeet was by far the best reader in the school, a librarian's dream, and his pout when he didn't get the book he wanted was worth any number of unpaid-extra hours spent on stock-taking. Only the fact that she had used two sheets of the most expensive paper available prevented her from ripping her resignation letter to pieces the moment his back was turned.
* * * * * * * * *
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine, just the weather, my allergies act up when it gets cloudy like this." Vasudha had to lie to the concerned stranger at the bus-stop. She couldn't very well say, "I usually take the van back home with the kids, but since I resigned this afternoon, I'm not entitled to school transport any more." Till then, the power-play with the Principal had pumped her on, she had felt a sense of victory as she had said 'goodbye' to her colleagues - but waiting for the public bus somehow made it final - she wasn't going to see those kids any more. The tears had come before she could stop them. The stranger glanced over his shoulder as he boarded a bus, and then she was alone with her thoughts.
She tried to focus those thoughts on the positive. No more stock-taking. No more fighting over furniture. It was disgusting, a school not having enough chairs for both the auditorium and the library. She had to give up chairs each time there was a play staged or a movie screened, and hastily spread mats on the floor for her students. She had to placate them as they groaned - doing projects and making charts is tough on a mat, the paper tears.
Now that she had time to herself, she was going to write. She was finally going to put pen to paper and get down that series of mystery books that had been buzzing around in her brain for months. She was going to study, earn her Master's Degree in English Literature. She was going to ... the arrival of the bus interrupted her reverie, and she boarded it, sank into a seat, and closed her eyes again.
* * * * * * * * *
" ... so it's important for you to comprehend the context in which Shakespeare ..."
The lecturer's voice was growing hazy. She had done it, she had enrolled for her Master's in English Literature, and Vasudha was rapidly becoming bored with the course. So much for a deeper understanding of the great works. She didn't need it to discuss Inkheart or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the kids, and that was what reading was for her - a means of sharing her thoughts with her students. A tiny smile played on her lips as she visualised what Anagha would say if Vasudha were to tell her to comprehend the context ... 'Speak in plain English, Miss!' - the voice echoed in her thoughts - and, to her embarrassment, she chuckled aloud and earned glares from lecturer and classmates alike. Oh, they were in earnest, these classmates of hers. The average age of the class was about a dozen years younger than her personal age, and all of them went on about how good the course was, how well-read the lecturers were, how much they researched the lessons ... Vasudha didn't doubt any of this, it was just that she didn't often hear the lecturers speak - her students' voices clamoured for attention in her mind and heart.
At home, it was her daughter's voice that rang out loud and clear. "How many chapters did you write today, ?"
She had made the mistake of telling her husband and child that she wanted to write a series of mystery novels. Saurin nodded tentatively, but Malini went into raptures, saying her mother was going to be India's answer to Enid Blyton. This had proved to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, Malini helped with household chores willingly, to give her mother time to write - on the other, she asked how the first book was progressing about six times a day. Considering she hadn't even got the first paragraph properly drafted yet, these queries were becoming a little painful to dodge. It was also all she could do to stop Malini from telling all her classmates about her mother's writing ambitions. It wouldn't do for a bunch of fifth graders to go about blabbing that they knew a 'famous author' before she had written even a page!
In desperation, she borrowed a stack of books from the library, all about "How to Write and Get Published". Between advice like 'write what you know' and 'travel, find out, ask about new things'; 'show,don't tell' and 'describe your setting so your readers can feel they're there', her head was starting to spin. How could she not tell, if she had to describe a setting? How could she write about 'knew' and 'new' at the same time ... ? Not to mention that some advised spontaneity, others warned against it, some advised a third-person viewpoint, others pushed for a first-person ... and all through, the relentless question, "How many chapters did you write today, Amma?"
* * * * * * * * *
The pen was growing bigger and bigger. It laughed, and said, 'comprehend the context in which I fall!' It had grown so big, she dropped it, and it shattered. She leaped backwards, toppling the chair with a loud thud. She screamed. She heard someone call her name: "Vasudha! Vasudha!"
Sweating and shaking, she woke up, to find herself sitting upright on her bed, her husband holding her, his worried eyes looking straight into hers. "Sorry, nightmare," she gasped, trying to lie down again.
"That's the second time this week," he said, quietly, forcing her to stay up and talk. "You were tossing and turning and muttering night-before-last as well. And a couple of times last week. What's going on?"
"I don't know what's going on," she groaned.
* * * * * * * * *
"Why were you absent for so many days, Miss? We were wondering if you had left town or something."
"No, dear, I didn't leave town. I was away from home for a while, that's all."
"From home?" Abhijeet looked puzzled. "You went somewhere else, in town?"
"I sort of went all over town, actually," she replied. "But I'm back home now. What happened about Inkheart?"
"I read it. It's awesome. I want Inkspell, that's the second part, but Vishvath has taken it. Keep it for me when he gives it back, please Miss."
"Sure," she sighed, with a smile. "Sure, I'll keep the book when it gets back." Abhijeet turned to leave, after giving her a thumbs-up.
"It's not only books that get back to the library," she thought, looking around the familiar room. "And it's not only books that are eagerly welcomed when they do return home!"
"March Quotation Inspiration Contest Winners"
Second Place - "Librarians' Lib" - Quotation Inspiration
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