I remember in tenth grade- during the peak of my romance consumption period- I had watched the last twenty minutes of the 2014 Nicholas Sparks book adaptation, “The Best of Me.” Sixteen-year-old me was taking into consideration watching it, and the story is not that I had spoiled the movie for myself before its fated screen-time. But the story is that I had sobbed like a preschooler, a child who had lost the companionship of a newly made friend, only by deciphering the wretched twenty minutes of a movie I never rounded up fully watching again.
I had known void before that day, and I had known emptiness that came with these inescapable endings. However, I had never experienced it, understood it, or felt it in its most visceral form prior to that otherworldly day. And after my breakdown over a fictional spectrum that I knew could not possibly come real, I decided to refuse to touch any category of media that consisted of sad or bitter-sweet endings.
Let me cite an example in this regard: It was a fine June day of 2017 when my friend and I decided, rather suddenly, that it had been a while since I had last purchased a book. I only need the slightest nudge on the shoulders to jump on the train to the book shopping bandwagon.
So, needless to say, we ran across the streets, clutching our schoolbags that were too heavy to carry to classes we never paid attention to, and stopped in front of our local library that housed a fairly varied range of literature. We wandered around the compartments aimlessly for a while, me picking up potential buys to show my friend and her nodding her approval for every single one. In the end, after a second of faux hesitation, I decided on “Dear John.”
Now, if you have already read this book or watched the movie, you surely are aware of what goes down in that work of art. And despite having never done both, I am aware as well. All the kind courtesy of that eventful hour. Along with my overt repulsion/avoidance of sad books, I also harboured another faulty characteristic as a reader back then.
It was that every time I bought a book, I would turn to the very last page of it, read if it ends beautifully, and then start from the inception. It was a flaw I attribute to my mother. She told me about it when I recounted the day’s events to her once I got back home that day. How after realising the book ended on a bitter-sweet note, my friend and I ran all the extra miles back to the library. Our school hours were the least of our worries.
Now that I look back, I find it baffling how I let endings dictate my choice of reading. And futilely so, for I still cry myself to sleep every time a book ends. Regardless of its conclusion. Leaving behind a good book is similar to leaving behind a companion. Someone you had come to cherish in this effervescent time, someone you had confided in with your secrets.
A good book knows your interests rather well; it appreciates your quirks. No judgments. Leaving behind a good book is like being with a long distant friend. They are always in your memory. In your spare time, you catch yourself laughing at an incident you had shared with them long ago. And when your heart clenches that you can barely bear to keep away from them, you go to your shelf, dust the book with a velvet robe and pull it close to your chest. Time to relish those beautiful moments yet again!
Endings are scary to me. Scarier when they end in a tone so desolate that I fear my heart will never be whole. I told myself that even if happy books do end, at least I will be at peace knowing they are better, in a bubble somewhere.
So what if I am not destined for my ultimate happy ending in reality? I will forever keep searching for it inside my books.
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