These words struck Mintu like a slap. All her hopes were dashed. It is true that many people do not like to lend their books; they have to be coaxed and cajoled into lending. But Mintu had never heard of anyone moving to a new neighbourhood just because they were scared of book borrowers! Mintu was disheartened; she would not be able to read those lorry-load of books.
Meanwhile they had reached the park. All the walking had drained the plump girl's energies and she sagged on a bench. Mintu, not quite sure of herself now, also sat down by her side.
"What is your name?" she asked the girl.
"What, you are still trying to make friends despite my warning!" the girl rolled her eyes at Mintu.
"What is wrong about asking your name? I am not trying to borrow your books," Mintu said with a faint smile.
"You may not have come to borrow books now, but you may very well come to borrow books later," the girl predicted and turned away her face. She had fulfilled the promise to her uncle.
For Mintu, it was a matter of life and death. A lorry-load of books!
After a brief silence, Mintu let out a huge sigh and said almost to herself, "It must be a lot of fun for you."
"What fun?" the girl wanted to know.
"You get to read so many books!"
"Oh, so that is your scheme? No, I don't like to read books," the girl said twisting her lips. "I cannot understand why people enjoy reading books; I get angry when I see someone sitting slouched with a book. I don't rise to a higher grade in school because I don't like to read," the girl said somewhat haughtily.
Mintu was not able to conceal her disappointment any further. "Haven't you read the books in your house?" she asked in amazement.
"Of course not; the mere sight of books makes me sick. The friends in our old neighbourhood were crazy about books; that made me angry and I felt like hitting them. Pooh, why do people read books!"
It was clear that the girl was straightforward who believed in calling spade a spade.
Mintu remained silent for a while and then asked, "Is your uncle hot-tempered?"
"Oh no, he is very easy-going. It is only when people want to borrow books that he gets angry."
Mintu heaved another suppressed sigh. All the doors of hopes were closing; she could not see any ray of light. Mintu could not understand how a person, who got angry with people for wanting to borrow books, could be described as "easy-going". But Mintu was not willing to accept defeat so easily. She screwed up her eyes and asked as if she did not really care for the answer, "Is that so? But what if someone wants to read the books in your house itself?"
The question annoyed the girl to such an extent that she stood up immediately and showing her thumb to Mintu said, "I have understood you scheme, you want to read the books. But your plan cannot succeed. Uncle has moved to a new neighbourhood just because he wants to preserve his books; do you think he will allow anyone to touch the books?"
Mintu tried to save the situation. "I am not talking about myself, I am talking about other people," she said. Mintu walked homewards quite crest-fallen.
Mother called out to her to have her food, but Mintu's thoughts were engaged elsewhere. She was thinking of the lorry-load of books. She was thinking of the rotund girl and regarded her as strange. There are so many books in their house, and the girl doesn't even touch them! If only Mintu was a member of that family! If only Mintu had an uncle like that! Unfortunately, Mintu did not have any uncle.
Well, you will find bees around flowers, and flies around jaggery. So it was with Mintu; she was always around the yellow house. While going to the park or while going to the stationer's, she always went by the yellow house and inadvertently peeked in through the window.
There was no way Mintu could have avoided peeking in through the window because the "stout lady's" uncle had kept the books in that room. You may be wondering who the "stout lady" is; she is the same rotund girl. The girl has been conferred this new name by the children.