Chapter 2: The Kingdom Of Obsession – Brushing through the Memorabilia
In 10 minutes Vivek was at the Grand Icon lobby. The doorman quickly recognized him and ushered him in with a broader smile. Vivek instantly tipped him and the smile broadened.
He was courteously greeted by the girl on the reception desk and his check-in process was swiftly done. The bell boy accompanied him to the room.
“Your room is ready Sir” the bell boy said.
“Oh thank you Arshad, and don’t bother about explaining to me the features of the room, I know the room better than all of the staff here.”
“Very well sir. Should you need extra towels or bed sheets please let me know. I am at your service” he bowed down signaling his departure.
“Sure thanks Arshad” he tipped him too as he wanted him to leave as soon as possible.
Finally the room was for himself. He quickly threw his bag on the bed and started stripping down his cloths. Within seconds he was naked. The air conditioning of the room was blowing cool air at his sweaty body. The trickling sweat was drying off slowly.
Checking the minibar he made himself a cup of coffee and got hold of some wafers and sat down on the rocking chair.
Opening his bag he removed the book and ran his fingers on the cover clearing off the dust and straightening the folded edges of the pages. He then removed the folder from the bag and spread it open on the table.
Inside the folder there were many pouches. He removed one which contained a strand of long gray hair presumably from a lady. The label read “The Scion of Ishvaku” dated 6th January 2019. He smiled as the memory came to his mind. In the winter when he was reading this book about Lord Ram he found this hair right in the middle pages. He imagined an aged woman reading this book with thick glasses struggling to concentrate as her thin scalp was losing hair by the day. One of these unlucky strands of hair parted way from her scalp and flew at the mercy of the air and landed on the pages. He sealed the pouch as he brushed off the memory.
He then opened another and in it was a local bus ticket for Rs. 5/- fair. An Rs. 5/- bus fare will not take you more than a couple of kilometers, maybe a journey of 10 minutes with traffic. So he imagined the person was traveling for a short distance but he was so eager to still read the book even for a short while. The book Title was “Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell” a page-turner; no wonder the person was so eager to find out what happened next. Vivek remembered that he himself had skipped his lunch to finish this book.
The next one only had a piece of paper with something written on it. It was Vivek’s own handwriting. This meant there was a phrase or scribbling written on the book which he could not collect directly as a sample. In such cases he would take out a piece of paper and scribbles down the quote. It read “to the person I hate so much”. The book was “The Myths of Harappa”. The quote was written on the insides of the cover in eerie handwriting. It felt Gothic when Vivek first set his eyes on it. Now who would gift a book to the person he hates? Was the first question in his mind. Then when he read the book he concluded that it was one of the worst books he had ever read. The book distorted Indus Valley’s history by all proportions. Moreover the story felt as if it was directly out of a cheesy Bollywood movie. It was so short without emphasis on details that he felt it was written by a child. It was so short that he finished the book in 5 hours and left for the entire weekend doing nothing. He should have bought another book for the rest of the weekend. From then onwards he decided to take more books with him in case the book was short and he also decided to not consider the reviews by other readers as in this case they had been gravely misguided. No wonder someone selected this book to give to the person he hates so much.
Next was from “God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. This one also had a phrase written on the page where Richard speaks about Climbing Mount Probable. The phrase had only three words “I am God”. Bold words to be written on a book which is set out to prove the nonexistence of God, don’t you think? If you are God why you need to read a book that proved you wrong? Moreover the question is that whether this self-proclaimed God has read this book and understood it.
Personally Vivek never completely agreed with the book. But he didn’t completely disagree with it too. He was more of an agnostic. A 5 on Richard’s scale to mark his belief; leaning towards agnostic.
The coffee cup was empty he picked up the cup and placed it on the minibar not bothering to clean it. Now it was time for some rum. He loved his rum in coke and the hotel very well knowing about it had placed the same readily in the bar. Getting his drink right he came back to his seat; still naked scratching his sweaty behind.
Time for one more memorabilia to be refreshed and then he would start with the book. The next one was his favorite. It was from “Fifty Shades Darker” by E L James. The pouch contained an erotica love letter. It read “dear Deep the last time we read this book together we ended up having sex in the kitchen. Your seductive touch ufff takes my breath away. Ah the way you punish me for turning my eyes on you ah my skin needs you. I am sending you this book to get inspired. I have marked all the sexy pages. Read them and come to me with new ideas. Make me your slave and punish me all night.
P S: don’t forget to bring the foil packet. I don’t want to get pregnant like last time.
Love you, yours wetness”.
Every time Vivek read these lines a chuckle would escape his lips. It did this time too. Scratching his bald head he put the letter back into the pouch.
The sweat had disappeared from his skin; the air conditioning was working. It was beginning to feel cold, but he didn’t bother to put on any clothes. It was his carefree weekend and he wanted it to be.
It was time to get to his book now. He would read continuously for an hour and then would order his dinner and enjoy it. And later read through late night.
Vivek would always go to the famous second hand book store; “The Whistlers”. He would return the book he read over the weekend and would buy a new one of his choice. He never kept any books he read. The reason was his wife’s hatred for them. He didn’t mind though as long as he could keep something as memorabilia from the books.
Finding memorabilia from a used book was not easy. You need an eye for detail. Not everyone could find anything peculiar in a book. But Vivek’s eyes were trained to find something special in a book. His obsession for finding memorabilia was more than finishing the book itself.
Vivek would go to the shop owner directly and ask for the book; most of the time he would have already called the owner and inform about the book and the book was ready waiting for him. The owner at The Whistlers knew him very well as he was a regular customer and he would keep books ready for him on demand.
Vivek never opened the book to check for any torn pages or damage; the owner did that for him. He wanted the book to be a surprise and reveal its secrets to him page by page. And then he would wait for the surprise find it keep it for himself and be glad about it.
Vivek’s obsession was neither of reading books nor of finishing the book by the weekend. Though not doing so will drive him crazy. His obsession was to find memorabilia before he finished the book. There was a time when he had almost lost it. Right till the end of the book he could not find any memorabilia or anything unusual about the book. He read and read turning the pages as the storyline got interesting but no sign of anything unusual. And he was quickly running out of pages. He had to do something. Only 2 pages of the book were left and he was getting desperate. He was ready to hit the book at the wall as hard as he could or rip off all the pages and burn them with the rage in his eyes. But just when he was about to give up he realized that the last page of the book was missing. This was even maddening than not able to find memorabilia. He trusted the owner of the shop to check the books properly before selling. But he had failed miserably. For an avid reader there is nothing crazier than finding the last pages missing where the climax is made known. This time he felt like tearing off the owners face in his bare hands.
What should he do now? No memorabilia pages missing? This is the worst. What will he put in the empty pouch? How would he get out of the hotel room the next day? The hotel room was his weekend kingdom. His weekend kingdom of obsession. The throne he dethroned at the end of the week and enthroned at the beginning. That was the cycle he never wanted to break. It seemed like there was a break to it after all. Someone had thrown a stick at the moving wheel which got stuck in between the spokes and he was off the wheel thrown further.
This was maddening at the highest levels. He had to do something. He spent 2 hours starring at the book contemplating his next action. He had almost emptied the minibar while doing the same. Scratching his bald head, pulling at the few strands of hair left on his head and hitting at the wall as hard as he could had not helped him much. After long hours of contemplation he had to give up. He made up his mind that he will not get out of a hotel room without the memorabilia. Either he will find it by the morning or end his life in this room.
The view of the sea from the balcony was mesmerizing and tempting. A fall from this balcony would be on those hard black rocks below; a bone shattering business, instant death for sure. That would be his choice, his choice of death. Just like in the book, “Johnny can’t decide” which is a chilling story of young Johnny who cannot decide how to die and finally chooses to jump off the cliff.
The only thing he would miss in this world were his girls. He felt sorry for them but he could not live with the fact that he would be getting out of this room without memorabilia. Then what about books you might think. Won’t he miss the books the most? Well yes he would but he could always choose to be a ghost wondering through the bookstalls and read them.
A fit of rage ran through his body. With this rage he threw the whiskey glass at the book. It hit the book sending it fluttering to the floor. The glass took a small detour and hit the wall disintegrating into thousands of pieces. But Vivek’s eyes were fixed on the fallen book. A piece of paper was peeping out of the binding of the book. The paper was matching with the pages of the book and had some handwritten noted on it. His eyes brightened up and he removed the paper from the binding. It was the last page that solved the mysteries of the book and also on the backside there was a note. There you have your memorabilia. “God damn, the fool who thought of doing this” he cursed. Suddenly his weekend turned to be the best of all. He had the story, he had the memorabilia and most importantly he now knew what to do if there was no memorabilia in the book; jump off the balcony off course. He will not have to waste hours on that decision anymore.
Vivek carefully removed the paper from the binding and started reading the story still keeping the note behind as a surprise. He would get to the suspense later. Finishing the story he slowly turned over the page and started reading the note.
“Dear Annu, I know you like a little suspense thriller. Well this is my gift to you; a thriller that will blow you mind away. This is a vivid page turner and the suspense goes on right till the last page. You might think you are close to solving the mystery but mind you you will be wrong about it when you get to the end.”
“I know you have a very bad habit of shuffling through the last pages when you are desperate to find answers and that’s why I have come up with a plan. I have torn off the last page. Yes I know you will be mad at me for doing this to a book, but I can’t help it. It’s up to you to find this page or get to the answer by yourself. The funny thing is you will have no idea that I have thorn the page until you find this paper. Well what can I say; you are screwed, serves you right for your bad habit of jumping pages.”
“But hey don’t you worry I’ll get back to you with the answer and show you the page by the end of the week. Till then better luck figuring out what’s going on.”
All the best
Your loving dad
The fact that the page was still in the binding probably says that Annu could never get to the answer and also that her dad for some reason could not reveal the ultimate secret. Why what might have happened? What happened to Visk? All types of possible explanations ran through his mind. But the one which stuck on was that probably Visk died before revealing the secret. Vivek liked tragedies and this was the explanation he stuck on to.
Imagine the plight of Annu if that was true if her father had actually died without telling her the secret. She had lost her father a greatest tragedy of all. But even greater tragedy was that the secret her dad planned for was not revealed. A book, a gift from her dad with the last page filled with answers and now the only person her dad who could tell about the missing the page was gone forever. Imagine the craziness around that. Vivek just could not fathom it. He himself would have died without the answers.
Now coming back from the memory he smiled at himself. Opening the folder again he retrieved the pouch with the missing page and the note. It was a photocopy. He had neatly pasted the page back on the book and taken a photocopy before reselling it.
He opened the pouch removed the page and read it again refreshing his memory. This was one of the most treasured and priceless memories of his collection. Moreover he was very much content that he could weave a story behind the page that the father had died before revealing the secret. This was his obsession; finding the stories behind these memorabilia.
Smiling at himself happy that he could do this in his brain and feeling triumphant he patted himself on the back. Replacing the pouch he kept the folder safely in his bag. Then he removed the book he started getting ready to read.
Sydney Billford Monteiro
Sydney Billford Monteiro was born and brought up in Mangalore, Karnataka. An HR by profession, he has a Masters in Social Work and is working for the Hospitality Industry in Bangalore. He is an avid reader of Crime Thrillers, Mystery novels, and Science books. Creative writing and poetry is his passion.
He loves exploring the world of stories. His favourite pastime is experimenting with real-life events, creating characters, and turning them into engaging storylines.
Apart from reading and writing the author loves football; his favourite game and watching movies that depict unusual concepts and real-life events.
He also loves to have a healthy debate over a scientific idea.