Sunday April 11, 2010
A not-quite love story
By ARIEL PHEH PIK TENG
A FEW days ago, I walked into a bookstore, and fell in love.
This was what happened, although I am wary of putting it down in words in case that robs it of its magic.
It was your typical girls’ day out at the mall, where best mates gather to exchange the latest episodes in their life. As usual, I arrived early, and made a beeline for my favourite bookstore.
Falling in love with books is a daily occurrence of mine, so we shall pay that no heed today. What I am talking about concerns a certain person who, to put it subtly, stole my heart. And for a girl who thinks stories of people who just glimpse someone once on the street and are forever in thrall to them are romantic poppycock, that’s saying a lot.
Back at the bookstore, I was strolling past shelves of books and scanning them for the latest potential reads, when I remembered that I had yet to read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
Gaiman is pretty much the god of stories, as is Pratchett. So I headed for the designated shelves with much vigour.
Gregory Maguire’s Mirror Mirror, yet another title on my ever-growing “to devour” list, caught my eye before I could dive into the Pratchett section. Admiring its beautiful binding, I could hear bells ringing in my head.
And that was when a certain youth walked into my life, forever changing it. Right there and then a different sort of ringing went on inside me. Unlike the usual clanging I hear when I see books, this was the soft tinkling peals of wind chimes.
Right next to where I stood clutching Mirror Mirror was the Pratchett section, and there he was. What really caught my attention wasn’t the fact that he’s good-looking, but the fact that he’s totally fanboying over the books. Yes, books.
And there went my heart.
I’d like to say that I took a leaf out of romantic movies and books, walked up to him, said hello, discussed our favourite Pratchett books, and together we adjourned to the nearby café for coffee. But, alas, I’ve always avoided stuff from the romance genre like the plague, and the courage that I have is all but that of the lion of Oz.
Stealing glances is a behaviour I’d never thought I would resort to. Neither did I think I’d plot and scheme and painfully regret the fact that I should have paid more attention when my friends were discussing the various tactics of men-napping, instead of indulging in my Sandman series.
A silent vibration of the phone yanked me back to my senses. My mates were here, and I had to bid a silent farewell to the person who had so easily taken my heart away.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, I’ll always remember the beautiful smile you had when you saw your favourite books, and the passion and joy you so easily expressed, for it struck a chord in my heart.
What’s left of it anyway.