When I was a little girl, I would spend the hour between 3 and 4 p.m. after school reading in the library. It was the time graciously allotted by mother who believed that home time was reserved for eating and studying. By 3:03 I would enter my sanctuary – my escape. Exchanging my regular and rapid “Hello’s” to the staff, I would stride purposefully to the same bookshelf.
I never went for the classics – despite the bragging rights one would attain simply from reading one chapter of Moby Dick.
My eyes would skim through the volumes and volumes of Encyclopaedias till finally I would reach the end of the series. I would then reach for a random book from the dusty collection of “Choose Your Own Fate” books. You know, the ones that would have various plots and options like, “If you choose to save the princess then turn to page 77.”
I always cheated.
I not only saved the princess, but I also duped death and concluded with a happily ever after.
Had I not cheated, I would have usually died third choice in – at a meek page 98. That wasn’t even half the book.
On the bus ride home, I would play with the idea choosing your own pre-destined fate. “None of the above” was never an option. It never said at the bottom of the page in that small font “If you don’t want to read about a princess let alone participate in this exercise – turn to page 100.”
I was a slave to the book, the ordained path I was obligated to take, and it both fed me comfort and disdain…