The Serendipity Of Finding A Book When You Least Expect It
March 20, 2018
It was a crisp Saturday evening and my friend was narrating to me how sometimes it’s not a bookstore, library, or an online site where she’s found a great book, but an unexpected place. With the wind sweeping across our faces and Morrison’s voice in our ears, we were sitting across each other at one of Bangalore’s rooftop restaurants. Her story reminded me of a three-hour long plane ride when something similar happened to me.
My only solace on these flights was music and a good book to shut out the world. However, due to last minute work and hurried packing, I’d forgotten to carry a book. The stewardess smiled at me as I silently cursed myself for being forgetful. As I waded through a sea of luggage and travellers, I was relieved to find my window seat. Settling in, I started looking for the in-flight magazine that often has articles about quaint travel destinations. To my dismay, there was none. Instead, behind one of the laminated leaflets of the flight’s seating layout, I saw a red-coloured book, its edge peeping out from behind the leaflet. Pulling it out, I tried not to gasp as I glanced over its cover- Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog by Lisa Scottoline. There was a photo of a furry dog on it. And that’s how we met- the red-coloured book and me.
“Dear fellow traveller,
This book gave me one of the most fun three-hour plane rides and I hope that in it, you find your smile too.
Afterwards, I often found myself wondering if another flier found Scottoline’s book with my handwritten note and how they may have felt. I suppose I will never know. If I knew for certain that a traveller would experience the kind of happiness I felt when I found that book on a flight, I wouldn’t mind leaving one of my books behind.
When I finally reached the chamber, I was suddenly aware that my hair was in disarray, my head was throbbing, and my fingers were numb from all my frantic typing at work. Right then, my mind blanked out on why I was in the doctor’s chamber.
As I tried to calm myself down and take a deep breath, I scanned the room. The waiting room seemed more like the sitting room of a home. It was quiet and fading sunlight streamed in through the windows. At the centre of the room, an eight-seater couch was placed around a wooden centre table and on it were bold letters splashed across the cover of a thick book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.
Two weeks later, I bought my own copy which now sits on my bedside table, under a lamp that makes the cover’s bold letters call out to me when I’m having a difficult day. On other days, I read it to bring perspective back to the more important things in life. This incident reminds me of something Pablo Neruda said, “The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading.”
I’d never before been to a bathroom with books, let alone one with a table on which they were beautifully laid out! I don’t recall all the books that were there, but I remember pulling out Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree from the pile. That afternoon, I spent an entire hour reading Blyton and one of the primary reasons I didn’t stay longer was on account of my older cousin’s constant banging on the door because she wanted to try the new lavender soap!
With that, she bit into a slice of a cheesy, garden vegetable pizza and left me entrapped in a web of my own thoughts.
Prarthana Banikya is a graduate in Sociology from Miranda House with a certificate in poetry. She spent her formative years in the valleys of Northeastern India from where she draws inspiration for most of her writing. Her work has been featured in several journals including Aaduna, Asia Writes, Aerogram, Danse Macabre, Poetry Super Highway, Namnai, and Pratilipi. In 2016, she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry and in 2018, was the recipient of the Orange Flower Award for poetry. She blogs at prarthanabanikya.blogspot.in.
You can read her articles here.