Confessions of a thief!
Story books and more story books! That's what I loved to read when I was a kid. My parents would be pleased when they found me absorbed in the history text-book but, unknown to them, there would be a book within a book - a story book neatly concealed in the folds of the history book!
There was a major obstacle which stood between me and story books. Money! Where was I to get money to buy story books? My parents wouldn't hear of it. There were no libraries for children's books nearby. So the only way out was to beg, borrow, and yes, steal!
Partho, my next-door neighbour, was almost my age and his love for story books was more intense than mine. Partho seemed to have discovered a magical well from where he regularly drew out some book or the other. He lent me the books after he had read them.
One day Partho lent me a book which was completely in tatters. The pages had come off and the cover had met an early death. Who cares! As long as all the pages were there and I could read it, everything was fine. The book was an absorbing one.
Quite unlike him, Partho seemed to have forgotten about the book. This caused my darker self to come to the fore. I wanted to keep it as my own! But Partho visited my home every day; so, I had to hide it. The book was an eye-sore owing to its tattered condition. It needed some beauty treatment first. I spent an hour gluing the pages properly; found a stiff cardboard and cut two rectangles of the size of the book for the front and back covers and wrapped them up with colorful paper. A cloth piece served as a good spine. It was hard work, but the result was worth it.
Where to hide it? Kitchen - the ideal hideout! Partho wouldn't peek into the kitchen. So, under the mass of vessels went the book and I heaved a sigh of relief like thieves do after they had disposed of the booty. Let Partho come now!
And Partho came in the evening. Just then mother came out of the kitchen holding the book. "I found this underneath the vessels," she said.
"What book is it?" Partho asked and took it from her. "Hey, I have been looking for this book all over," he said.
Good thieves are good liars! "The book was torn to such an extent that I thought I must bind it," I said. "I had kept the book under heavy vessels to dry and set properly."
"Gee! Thanks," Partho said. This was perhaps the first time in criminal history that a thief was being thanked! Partho left with the book.
I glared at mother; I could not tell her the truth. Imagine your own mother giving you away! But I think I must thank her; she had saved me from committing a crime.