You know that feeling when you want to be a child again? When you run your hands across the dusty bookcase in your room, and suddenly your ashy fingers trace against the spine of a book you barely remember? But the memory of its world somehow swims at the back of your mind, like a misty cloud, mingled with joy, carefreeness, and an unbroken spirit. Remember that feeling?
On a Saturday night, just after dinner, I sat, legs tucked under the folds of my bean bag with C.S Lewis balanced on my lap because that’s exactly where I wanted to be. Lewis was heavy, or rather his world was, filled with undying mythical characters stamped inside the magical world that was to always be my refuge.
I dip my head and dig my nose into the book. Its musky scent enters my nostrils, and travels into my thoughts, bringing the misty cloud of memory forth. I can suddenly see the blurry image of four walls, pink plaster chipping off them to expose grey concrete beneath. I can see the rectangle room and the distinct white and grey patterns on the faux marble floor, its image fragmented by the crisscrossed fabric of a mosquito net. Through the holes I can see the thin image of my brother, as his hunched shoulders walk up to the radio on the dresser and flick the ‘On’ switch. It’s Micheal Jackson belting the words “Heal the world, make it a better place”. But his voice isn’t strong enough to mute the muffled voices. The sounds of two people — my mother and my father. Threatening, cursing, screaming through the walls of our bedroom. I notice my brother, his face drooping against the music, one leg extended out of the mosquito net as he leans against the wall.
I sit myself back on my bed and shut my eyes. All sorts of sounds enter my ears. Michael healing the world, the sounds of my parents, and the deep guttural grumble of a lion. I look down to page 41 of Narnia balanced gently against my crossed legs, just in time to see the coronation of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve, as Aslan ascends the altar. The fading light of the day glistens off his mane, like a fiery angelic halo. I sigh, watching Aslan in his world, a perfect example of an untouched, untainted glory. But he roars uncomfortably in his position, cocking his head to and fro as if to say: “Unfamiliar noises everywhere”. I nod my head as my parents’ echoing voices intensifies and Michael tries as hard as he can to flood out the noise. “And if you really try, you’ll find there’s no need to cry, In this place you’ll feel, There’s no hurt or sorrow”.
Before long my head is tucked under my pillow, and my tongue lulls with the hymns of Narnia as my head tries hard to block out the noises from everywhere.
I close the book, letting out a whoosh of air. I didn’t realise I was holding my breathe the whole time. Narnia is heavy once again, pushing against my lap. I lift it up, my elbows straining from the effort as they deliver the world of my childhood back to the dusty bookcase in my room.
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