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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 reached the park. All the walking had drained the plump girl's energies and she sat 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 said 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 don't 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 at school because I don't like to read," the girl said somewhat haughtily.
Mintu cannot 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 the books makes me sick. My 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 forthright who believed in calling a 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 if someone wanted to borrow books, could be described as "easy-going". But, one cannot accept defeat so easily. Mintu 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 and walked homewards quite crest-fallen.
Mother called out to her to have her food, but Mintu's thoughts were engaged elsewhere. She was thinking about 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! Or, if only Mintu had an uncle like that girl's uncle! 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 "Plump Lady's" uncle has kept the books in that room. You may be wondering who is the "Plump Lady"; she is the same rotund girl. She has become known by this nickname.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu