Neither the TV in my bedroom nor the big screen TV in the living room has been on since I wrote that I would not turn them on. I’ve tried to fill my sleepless nights with either blogging (which leads to IMing, which has been extremely rewarding since it is still time spent communicating with my friends) or reading. The blogging is excellent for getting rid of nagging thoughts, as since childhood I was able to immediately quell mental hauntings by writing them down. Thus all the diaries, journals, elephant-memory. Reading is good for keeping a finally blank mind from wandering back into something self-destructive.

I’ve been trying to read the novel Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which is a national bestseller about two cousins in India. Grace had mailed it to me a couple of years ago and she had written the inscription on the inside title page

Dear Cindy –
This is one of the best
books I’ve read in a while.
The author captures the love
between two sisters beautifully.
I hope you enjoy it as much as
I do.

I’ve tried to read it upon receipt, but could not get into it because it opens with too many things foreign to me.
They say in the old tales that the first night after a child is born, the Bidhata Purush comes down to earth himself to decide what its fortune is to be. That is why they bathe babies in sandalwood water and wrap them in soft red mamal, color of luck. That is why they leave sweetmeats by the cradle. Silver-leafed sandesh, dark pantuas floating in gold syrup, jilipis orange as the heart of a fire, glazed with honey-sugar. If the child is especially lucky, in the morning it will all be gone.
Thus reads the first paragraph of Book One, chapter 1.

Now that Grace is gone, I am determined to get through this novel. I found the book on my bookshelf a few days ago in passing and read her inscription first. I gingerly passed my fingertip along the edge of her words, handwritten in blue ink, softly lest I unknowingly wipe away some of the essence that she left on those very pages she touched. I turned the inscription page and tilted the back of that page to the light. By studying the lifted lines left by the differing pressure of her pen strokes, I could almost relive her writing those words to me. The heavier downstroke of the D in “Dear” and the L in “Love.” I’d like to think that those letters were pressed more firmly because they bore more weight in her head as she wrote them.

She had thought of me when she read these very pages. I’d like to know why she felt this book was appropriate for me. There’s only one way to find out.

Off I go to read in my bed, as I had done in childhood, and prior to the days of falling asleep to the sound of sit com laugh tracks.