(Thanks go to the art teacher in my school for the drawing of the cockroach)
We chatted while enjoying an ice-cream and observed others who had come to the exhibition from all over Sri-Lanka.It was like a huge party thrown by an invisible person making us bound together by the humanity and the recreational activities.
But as time went by my son got busy with his exams and he could not accommodate my requests to accompany me with my roamings to the big capital.
Yet, I continued my roamings to the book fair as usual and enjoyed them to the fullest.I walked among crowds with my gunny bag and other bags slung over my shoulders and touched books, read pages,memorized designs, recipes and sometimes even drawings when the book was too expensive for me.
I felt naughty when I noticed that a salesman came to stand near me pretending to select books and keeping a close look on what I was doing.Then I would purposely linger there more to make the poor man uncomfortable and letting him puzzle over my unusual behaviour, with that particular book in my hand.
So, I went to the exhibition this year too. Yes.Alone.I went to EXPOGRAPHIC first.It is my favourite book shop.Many science fictions were there and I read the reviews on the back page and selected a few books. Books went into the gunny bag which hung on my shoulder.
Then I remembered an Ad on T.V. and went to an IT stall, looking for a software which is used to read books on I pad. The place was not crowded and there were two cute girls in the reception.
"Yes, Madam, What can we do for you" ?
I explained them what I needed.Then while I was talking, my back tingled with a slight sensation.I ignored it and paid attention to the girl who was very keen on explaining their new product.
The second time I sensed that the thing I felt on my back was something alive! It moved very,very,very slowly on my neck and my hairs stood at end.I wanted to scream and wriggle my body to drop the thing but my conscience warned me to behave cautiously in the presence of an audience.I gritted my teeth and tested my patience to the last drop scarcely paying attention to the girl who gibbered near me.Unfortunately the thing moved a little bit up along my neck and all my sanity was lost to reason.
I frantically dropped my gunny bag to the floor, shook my body with full force to drop the evil thing while letting out a long drawn scream making people freeze.As soon as my scream was over I heard another similar scream and then I saw it was coming from one of the two girls.
The girl was wiping something, plunging her hand in the deep cleavage in her blouse and I could see her face distorted with fright.She continued to scream with a shrilly voice calling every one's attention to the scene.It was like a behaviour of a madwoman.She was trying to take something out in her blouse but it seemed that her efforts were futile for all the screaming and running .Unaware of the audience her wail collected, she held the two edges of the front of her blouse in two hands and shook it frantically to drop something while giving a wild dance to the rhythm of her fluctuated cry, remembering me an African Tribal dance I have seen in Discovery Channel many years ago.I thought that all the limbs in her body would come loose to that vigorous shake but luckily it didn't happen.
Unexpectedly the girl stopped her wild dance in the middle of the climax and ran to an inner room in the stall crying, but a small brown lump lay helplessly on the floor. It slowly stretched its tiny limbs and tried to walk shakily as it too was overwhelmed by the incidents it had to face few minutes ago.
It was a tiny cockroach!
The others in the room were more concerned of the girl as the gathering mainly consisted of her co-workers and people who ran other stalls in the book-fair.The crowd dispersed with different emotions on their faces; some exciting as she had given them a free entertainment which is rare in any book fair and some others genuinely sorry for their friend for the discomfort and embarrassment she underwent in public.
But I was more concerned with the object on the floor because my mind argued it was my doing at last. My heart was scolding me for being the cause of this commotion and letting an innocent girl, how silly her behaviour was, to be ridiculed by others.
I just stood there while observing others' behaviour and once made sure that they have resumed work, slowly took a few steps close to that object and gave a little push from the tip of my shoe. It lost its orientation and took fer circles on the floor but crept under the carpet as promising me not to disturb others in the future.
Then and there I stopped my inquiry on the software and I even lost the desire to buy more books or to stay further in the exhibition and left the place with misgiving thoughts.
I think that the cockroach was in my gunny bag as it was sitting in my cupboard for some time without being used. When I carried it, slung on my shoulders it must have crept up to my back and you know the rest.
It was unintended but I should have been more careful of my paraphernalia.Whenever I remember that incident I regret for my crime in the book fair.
What will be your verdict, fellas?