There are at least six different lanes that lead to the place where I stay. And after a long time, I took a turn that I had not used for several years to reach home. A pang of pain stabbed at me as I passed by a row of similar looking houses on either side of the long winding lane. It reminded of a woman who I had met many years ago, perhaps nine or ten, she used to live in one of those houses that looked so alike, I cannot even recall which one she lived in.

I do not remember anything about her at all, except for the fact that she used to tutor my brother. So this once when she was at our house we struck a conversation. She was about five-six years older than me, but I was always a little more mature for my age and could talk to anyone. She loved to read, so I liked her. I showed her my shelf and she expressed interest in a few of them and asked me if she could borrow them.

I was more than happy to lend her my books and gave her at least a dozen to read. She said she was going out of town, and some fiction would help her pass time. I went along with her to see where she stayed so that I could come later and take them back when I wanted. She said she was going away for a week. A week passed and she did not return. But I did not mind, I had read them all, I could always go to her house and take them back when I wanted to. About two months passed and I thought perhaps it was high time that the books came back to their rightful owner. I called on the number she had given me (those were the times when I did not have a cell phone, and everybody used the landline at home), but she never picked it up.

So I decided to go to her house and it turned out she used to live with her relatives and that she did not live with them anymore. So my books were gone forever. She never came back, my books never came back. What a horrible woman, to take away the best reads that belonged to a fourteen/fifteen year old, never to return them!

And now after so many years, that painful memory comes back to me. The memory of losing my beloved friends to a woman I had met only once. To a woman whose face I do not even remember. And because of what had happened, now I am extremely apprehensive about lending my paged friends to anybody! And as a principle, I do not lend more than one book at a time to any friend, unless I absolutely adore them or if I have taken a book or two for myself in exchange.

That lane is capable of making me sad even years after what would seem to some people an insignificant loss. It is quite possible that may be if we ever met again, she might have a good reason to explain what had happened. May be she had to suddenly go away, never to come back and thus she could not return my books. Or it is quite possible that she took them away with the intention of never returning them. She might have been a good woman. I do not know. For me, whenever I pass by that lane, I will only remember her as the bitch who stole my books.