Ever since I moved from Jalan Ampang to Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, I became useless. I used to have at least an hour of therapy session in Kinokuniya, walking around the store to check on the new books available, inhaled the smell of fresh papers and delved into the other world where Sha was not Sha. Sha was...
...a journalist who wrote about scandalous spinsters. Sha Austen who came out with Sin and Stupidity.
...a lady firefighter who looked like Nurul Syuhada Nurul Ain; her aggression replicated Lara Croft and has a high sense of humor like Whoopi Goldberg (scary aight???)
...or a clumsy girl who met her dream guy during pre-wedding session in Saloma Bistro (eh, this sounds familiar kan?)
Yes. Besides having people around me to hang out with, I loved my celibacy and privacy. Where I could think of other things. Where things were just with me and me alone. Where I could daydream about things that only I knew. Reading, in my opinion was a way to release my stress:)
So, this was my story. It happened weeks before Ramadan:
My dearest sister, Sya Annur was about to deliver her third child and she was showing this picture in her Facebook. It was a picture of a pile of books she bought before her baby was delivered. The caption on the picture was about her plan on finishing all books during her confinement.
When I saw the picture, my breath was caught in my throat. Work has always made me exhausted and busy. It has also changed me into a boring person! It drained my ideas in writing and built this sense of high awareness and without me knowing it, it had also made me a paranoid. (G, I said this, but I couldn't helped saying that my work is my life. Hehe)
That was the first picture. The first glimpse of something which I have been missing dearly. And then, it happened again. Another friend introduced me to Goodreads Malaysia. And I couldn't help browsing about books. One fine evening before Bersih, I went to Central Market with my colleagues and started to search for secondhand books. The shop belonged to an Indian guy who had piles of books in his shop - mostly romance novels. Yes, it was a heaven but since the price and the quality was not that synchronized, I stopped at buying cheap Mills & Boons. For old time sake.
But, as I expected, the books finished in only few hours. Mills & Boons were predictable and the stories were too short:(
Huuuuuu.... I started to gaze outside the bus. 140 km of traveling per day and the best I could do was to close my eyes and snore. Well, I couldn't do that actually. Recently we had this issues of high pitch snores in the bus. The men sounded like the late Pavarotti in their sleep!
Therefore, I made a pact with myself. It was Friday. I left the office early and went to Kinokuniya. Being ignorant about the way people were staring at me or how they made fun of me was the best thing ever. Yes, I have been the workaholic. If only Sophie Kinsella wrote about a workaholic instead of a shopaholic, I would definitely volunteered my stories:P
When I reached my sanctuary, I was breathless. Oh my...you won't know how much strength did I used just to keep my composure. It was not easy. Books were everywhere and I did not managed to touch any for the past few months! So touching the first book I saw in that magical place was like touching a rose petal in a spa!
Folks, I was overjoyed and I couldn't stop grinning. I checked on several books. For several minutes, I was lost. I didn't know where too start. Romance books era was over. Malay novels were blooming like tulips in Netherlands but then again making the right choice of Malay novels has always been my biggest weakness. Chic lit? I grimaced. My best friend, Q, used to laugh at how weird it was seeing me with chic lit. Hello, even an iron lady needed a break!
Then, a girl caught my eyes. She was holding a heavy basket which consisted of...fifteen books? Wait, FIFTEEN? One and Five?!
"Alaaaaa...baca je tu..." I told myself.
But she looked so obsessed and when she realized that I was watching her, she smiled at me.
"Baca buku apa tu?" she asked. I smiled back and showed her my books.
"Sarah Addison Allen? Best ke?" she asked.
"Macam best...tapi entahlah. Tak pernah baca lagi buku dia. Baru nak cuba," I told her.
"Kerja?" she asked. I nodded.
"Mesti dekat KL kan?" she guessed. I grinned back.
"Awak?" I asked her.
"Segamat. Kat sana tak ada Kinokuniya. Inilah, saya balik ni nak beli banyak-banyak. Buat bekal bila balik sana, " she explained.
"Kenapa sampai macam tu? Taknak ke surf internet? Sekarang kan banyak orang jual online?" I asked her curiously.
"Saje...lagipun saya rindu kedai buku macam ni...dapat pegang-pegang buku...best..." she said innocently.
Then we talked and read and talked and exchanged ideas. We didn't tell our names to each other. We didn't exchanged phone numbers. When it was the time to leave, we left.
Few days after that, I surfed the internet and went to my Facebook. I checked out the page where my friends spent their time to buy the books called BooksforCharity. Well, frankly speaking, I have browsed this page several times. It was just that I had this discomfort of buying things online, I made myself an observer instead of a buyer.
But that day, things were different. I had this goal of buying the books that I wanted so I already knew what to buy. So I sent a message to lady. I checked on the page several times and read all the feedback that she received.
And I made my first order. Two books. Garden Spells from Sarah Addison Allen and The Stepmother's Support Group by Sam Baker. I sent the message Kak Ida, the person who was managing the page. She told me it was only for RM50. RM50 made me smiled the whole night. Yes! That money that I received from my salary increment was really worth it. I spent the money treating my brother yet I could still spend some on books!
The next day, I looked into paying the money for the books that I've ordered. I was not a good fan of online banking (well, I was a banker before and these banking terms and conditions made me a nervous person. I don't even use debit card). So I used the ATM to transfer my money. Sad to say, the machine worked out the worst that day. My receipt mentioned, "TRANSACTION TIMEOUT."
So, I messaged Kak Ida again and she told me that she received the money and would courier my books. My reaction? Well, you could ask my staff. I was ecstatic and I couldn't help smiling the whole day. Well, I was known as a mean lady boss. That day, I was not. Kak Ida punya pasal....
And...on the day I was supposed to receive my books...
I walked back and forth my room when the clock ticked at 4.00p.m. The dispatch boy was grinning ear to ear when he saw me.
"Kak....yang akak tunggu-tunggu dah sampai..." he said. I laughed joyfully.
My name. My address. The parcel felt like something familiar. So, I hurriedly opened them. My colleagues passed me the scissors with knowing smile on their faces. One of the girls started to tease me, "Consignment note jangan lupa bagi sini..." and everyone chuckled when they saw my eager reaction.
Layer after layer. The parcel was wrapped neatly. I started to feel nervous, and excited and thankful at the same time. My books were tended well. And...
THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL! The most beautiful books I have seen in months of depression and business and sadness. The cure to my hectic schedule and chaos. My treasure...my precious!!! (I sound like Gollum in Lord of The Rings now).
And like Gollum who kissed the ring, I kissed my books. That was....
...before my boss caught me doing it! Hehe. Now....now...
"Dah dapat apa dihajat?" he asked cynically.
Well, that was embarrassing, I knew, but I also knew that he smiled when I smiled. Yes, I have been frowning a lot recently and I only talked about work. Never mind then. Forget him. Look at my books!
So, my journey to work was never the same again. I read my books and smelled the papers daily. I spent time browsing the best books to buy from Kak Ida again. This evening, I asked Kak Ida about Emily Giffin, an author who had the best reviews in Amazon and Goodreads. It seems that she had several types of book covers for her books. And even though we said that we should not judge a book by its cover, I couldn't help drooling over the picture of Kak Ida's collection. And guess what? She answered my question in a nick of time too!
Well, I sound so happy, am I? Indeed, I am. The girl in Kinokuniya and Kak Ida have made me realized that there will always be ways to maintain your hobby and make yourself happy. My regret in meeting that Segamat girl was that I did not managed to introduce her to Kak Ida's page, otherwise she would have loved to browse, just like I do.
Sha, the bookworm, is back. Well, she has the time to stop reading e-mails and journals now. She has the time to be herself. And that's important.
Q, I'm girlish enough to read chic lits.
My dearest Kak Sya, Qemm, Bismi and others....you led my way for me to become me again!
Thanks Kak Ida!
* browsing to book 5 books for my second order. No baju raya is okay for me:P