Every Saturday morning for two years when we were 11 and 12, my best friend Siska and I would meet up, without fail, to go to the Bedok library to borrow our weekly ration of exactly four books each. Sometimes, we would also be there to do research for whichever Singapore Science Centre card we were working on at the moment, perhaps the Young Environmentalist card, or the Young Ecologist card. Most times, it was just to borrow those four books to read in the week ahead. Oftentimes, it would be a Beverly Cleary (oh how I loved her back then), or a Judy Blume, or a Carolyn Keene. And then we would round off our weekly excursion with a Cheeseburger Happy Meal lunch at McDonalds. Sometimes, we would be “adventurous” and might have had a Coney Dog, Curly Fries and a Root Beer Float at A&W instead.
It got me thinking about all those times I’d pick up a book and read it voraciously, without a sense of day or night, barely pausing for meals, maybe not even then. Lost in the story, I’d promise myself to read just one more page, just one more chapter, until finally, I’d find myself at The Last Page. I’d emerge from the spell to find my hair oily from not having showered in the last 24 hours, slightly nauseous from having survived solely on junk food to get me through the day, the house/my room in a mess, and a slight sense of loss from having finished my journey with the characters. Silly as it sounds, I miss that sense of utter concentration to the exclusion of all else. More, I suppose I miss the sense of freedom to do something like that.