Stuck in the Middle


The final pages of great reads always leave a bittersweet taste. I liked books, when I was a child. I didn’t read much, but those puzzle books where you have to flip back to the previous pages to find hidden clues had most of my attention. I can still remember the smell of the neighborhood library that has long been demolished. In my teenage days, I had spent most of my free time on school work, video games, and Go. Except for a few books that has managed to catch my attention, such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, most of my readings were perfunctory – the news magazines we all had to subscribe to for school work. Then I rediscovered the joy of reading, from Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity, or Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind. I enjoyed both thoroughly, but I can’t remember which did the magic. What I can remember is a line from The Shadow of the Wind:

Books are mirrors; you only see in them what you already have inside you.

Till today I have always found this true in the books that I cannot put down. But stories have to end, and you just can’t hold on to them forever. That’s why endings are always bittersweet, as are all things in life. I am always bad with saying goodbyes, sometimes I just end up not saying at all. I guess a part of growing up is to learn how to say goodbye.

I like being right in the middle of the book. There’re enough pages to put part of yourself in the story, to see the world in the eyes of the protagonist(s). It’s a comfortable milestone too because you know you have the next half of the book to indulge in. Yet it could also be discomforting because in the following pages you will grow increasingly conscious about getting closer to the end of the story. Wouldn’t it be great if we can all be stuck in the middle? But pages are turned as inevitably as La Seine flows.

While the middles of beginnings and endings are great, being in between two different things is… exasperating. The feeling of being temporary is upsetting, but to try not to be attached to anything is worse. Because everything ends together. Because you can’t tear out the pages, keep them under your pillow, and expect that everything will be OK.

I know I started Roodelia to write positively, but these days the strain on mental fortitude is ever more palpable. On a brighter note, vulnerable moments necessitate optimism. In the past, I would have said something like, ‘the world is a sad place’ or ‘life is a passing dream’. But it’s the great stories that makes reading worth it, however bittersweet endings could be. Bad stories aren’t worth mulling over.

P.S. It’s cathartic penning these thoughts down, now I’m off to a new book!

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