Quaint little lane of reading

My university days were quite relaxed. Apart from the last-minute essays (which were frequent enough to disrupt my daily dose of sleep), I spent my time bumming out with close friends at coffeeshops. Cigarette in hand, we would conduct a weekly or daily review of all that has passed. These frequent male-bonding, chest-thumping coffee sessions, I miss.

I also miss some of my literary “pursuits”.

Like the one where a friend and I sit at a cafe along a quaint little lane in Singapore and sip our coffee or tea. Depending on the weather and the humidity, our beverages may either be iced or hot. If you listen carefully enough, when all is quiet and hush-hushed between the two of us, you could hear the ice clinking against the glass as they melt.

We would sit there with books of our choice and engage in a little bit of reading. Lazing out in the sun and reading, with a coffee in hand and a cigarette in another. No sound will be heard in moments like these – except for the flipping of pages and the burning of the tobacco when we inhale on our cigarettes.

We’ll also order some snacks, some finger food to go along with our books. I love reading and having something to snack on at the same time. It’s an incurable bad habit of mine, cultivated since young. It can be said that at home, I have to read when I’m eating. I’ll usually bring a newspaper to the table or a book that’s not too dusty and yellowed. Hygienic enough to be brought to the dining table.

I cannot forget that once I saw on the Tube a fat man wiping his sweat with the pages of a book he was reading. My mind just snapped there and then. Cheap library book sales? Forget it. You never know where those books have been to. Or what they have touched.

Then it’ll be time for an arty movie. All we had to do was to shift our asses up to the second floor of the cafe. The cafe was a neat little trick. It serves food and drinks on the first floor and screens arty-farty movies for free on the second floor. Yes the movies were free – but on a certain condition. That you have to spend at least five bucks ( I can’t remember how much eactly) on their food.

Which I don’t mind because while their food wasn’t top-notch gourmet, they still taste good, especially when you’re hungry. And considering the food we get in our Golden Villages and Cathay Cineplexes, the grub was delicious.

This was my little “book club.”

It was a club less about getting through numbers, reading a certain number of books each week and announcing it like a trophy. For me, it was to increase the pleasure of reading, of lazing around in the sun with a drink in hand and flipping those pages. Nothing else seemed to get to me at that point in time. Going over every little word was such a joy – except for the beads of sweat that formed on my forehead when the weather was damn humid.

I ended up reading the same book for a few weeks because most of the time, we ended up chatting. But it was all ok until the cafe closed down. It lost its movie screening licence because of a few events it organised. The government board in charge of these little things decided to pull the plug on the private screening house and let it die.

And so die it did, along with my little book club.

Now when I read books, I find myself an imaginary grass patch with nice weather and beautiful scenery and sit myself in it.

While the rat race continues without me.


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