Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting for the Book

However much he wanted to, my twelve year old son could not hide his strong yearning to possess the forthcoming Harry Potter book. Ever since the news about the new book in the Harry Potter series hit the headlines, his mission to track all developments about the forthcoming publication had begun.

As he bombarded me with all the tidbits about the book, I found myself getting interested. Then one day, an online bookstore announced taking preorder of the book. The image of the book cover in the preorder page became our computer’s wallpaper. Every time I switched on the computer, Harry Potter’s tranquil face stared at mine. Other Potter trivia got piled up in the house and clamored for attention; soon it became impossible to put the magic boy out of our minds.

Amid this entire build-up one thing struck me as unusual. Although the coming of the new book had set my son agog, he had never asked me to preorder one for him. A little prodding dug out the reason—he didn’t want to burden me with the prohibitive price of a brand new American hardbound edition. He could wait for a moderately priced Indian version that was sure to come out in a few months. Very thoughtful for a twelve year old in-deed!

But how could the indulgent father in me capitulate to this kind of the considerate thinking of a child? I could not allow my son’s excitement to wither away like this. Next morning, I preordered the book that was to release in a week’s time. A brimming son was seen profusely thanking his contented father for this thoughtful gesture. The countdown for June 21, the book release date, had begun. With the magic date approaching, the air of anticipation became so palpable that you could stab it with a bookmark. As my son waited for the book with bated breath, I felt a strange sense of déjà vu.

The English teacher of our new class had suggested that we all referred to a particular dictionary for proficiency in English usage. A few students got it immediately. When I checked it up in the library, I fell in love with the book instantaneously. The dictionary was complete with pictures, usages, and many useful appendices—something we were not used to in our knowledge about dictinaries. The desire to own one possessed me. But this foreign edition boasted a price that was too steep for my limited monthly allowances as a hostel border. I wrote to father to send extra money immediately, and he suggested that I should wait till his next visit which was due soon. I can still recall my mounting expectancy as I waited for the appointed day.

The magic moment came, the book was purchased, and a contented father did not mind the absent-mindedness of his son, absorbed with the new book, for the rest of the evening. I remained preoccupied with my prize possession for many weeks to come. I still proudly possess the very same dictionary thirty-six years after it was purchased that evening. I feel more comfortable looking up a word from the yellow pages of the old dictionary than the glossy pages of the newer editions which I purchased in my later years.

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