Every summer, my mother and I would stay awake all night long, cutting clippings from newspapers. I used to cut out cartoons. She used to cut out grimy articles about politics. We would paste them in our scrap books.
Every summer, after staying up till the sun threatened to peak out from behind the clouds, we would take up our blanket and chase the dawn. Cats surrounding us, people still in bed I never thought about the way my mother used to talk about her childhood. A tomboy by nature, she used to climb the trees and drive her mother crazy, bringing home muddy hands and scraped knees.
I used to bring only books, the ones that took an entire day to finish. Then those that took all afternoon. Then those that I read in the dead of night.
Every summer, we would bundle up our cats in the car and go driving down to the vet. It were these wild ventures we took, two rodeos in search of water after mouthfuls of sun. We were two savannah lovers, travelling from one place to another in search of--well, we didn't know what we were looking for. It was just something invisible, something with no name to it.
Every summer, noticing the lack of new books in our shelf, we directed our destination towards thick bound leathers which to the naked eye would seem dull and hardly exciting. But we carried the magic telescope and we knew. When we looked through them, worlds appeared out of these ordinary squares, lighting up the path even when the candle has burnt down and not a match stick is to be found. Hidden in crevices between stacks and stacks and stacks! of books, we would come back home, feeling rich. We were anything but hungry. Our stomachs were empty but our minds were full. And you can guess what happened to all those books.
It seems there had been every birthday wish, every breakfast, every test grade. Every good morning and every sleep tight. Every 'Wake up it's you first day of 6th grade' and every 'don't you talk back to me' and every 'you're not crazy' and every 'I will always love you' and every -everyday.
This is my twentieth summer. Even now I stay up all night. cuddling a book I adopted a long time ago. I have learned to chase the dawn all on my own. When the sun wakes up and starts to get out of bed, I do too. Take up my blanket and stare at the sky and wonder; where have all those summers flown by?
About the author:
Nabeela Altaf is a 21 year medical student from Pakistan, currently in 3rd year of medical school. She has an unhealthy fetish for books and the need to write down a few words every day. She has been featured in Eye on Life Online and Right Hand Pointing Magazine. Her work will be published in The Indiana Voice Journal in January 2015.