Remember the collectors’set I received in π•Ώπ–π–Š π•±π–Šπ–‘π–‘π–”π–œπ–˜π–π–Žπ–• 𝕺𝖋 π•Ώπ–π–Š π•½π–Šπ–†π–‰π–Šπ–—π–˜? I got to 19 without completing it.

Final year, I was regretfully back in a course I’d tried to escape, squirming in a world that never stopped feeling foreign. Old associations die harder than habits so I didn’t have friends. I returned to the original social circle, books.

I had Prof.A, feared for his acid tongue, eccentric teaching & derision of anyone that didn’t worship calculus. He was the reason I was back in the course. As exams drew near, we plunged into journal work, racing to record the year’s labours in oversized books. I snuck a look. A was asleep in his chair. My classmates were busy in silent pursuits. I slipped out TheTwoTowers. It fit easily into my journal.

I felt the burning eye of A before I saw it. He awakened, looked right at me, walked over & pulled out the book. Returning to his desk, he fell back asleep. It was over in seconds.

The bell rang & A thundered out of the door. The class sighed in relief. Not me. Shrugging off my classmates calling it a narrow escape, I followed him. He still had my book.

I found him in the library. He had already forgotten me. Glaring, he barked “Yes?”

I pointed to The Twin Towers. He stared as if noticing it for the first time.

“Who gave you this?”

My father, I stammered,for waiting for the inevitable horror to descend.

Instead, he said “What did you think of it?” And when I didn’t answer, “What else do you read?”

Alarmed that each unanswered question would get him angrier, I began speaking. Words fell from my mouth about hobbits, rings, dragons, trolls. When I ran out of breath, he said the most unimaginable thing ever.

“My dear child, I didn’t think you had the mind to appreciate Tolkien. You must come talk to me when you finish the book. Have you read Kahlil Gibran’s sublime poetry?”

Prof.A.belonged to the fellowship of readers! I shook my head. I’d never heard the word ‘sublime’ spoken before.

When I saw Prof.A again, he didn’t remember me. But he once said, “We don’t make friends; we only recognise them.” It’s true of readers too.

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