A book is material comfort. Just as much as the inside of it matters, knowing that I have a book stashed away in my handbag is extremely important to me, as vital as having my ATM card (that'll do, you don't really need cash all the time, because NETS works quite everywhere, except at the MRT stations, where having a topped-up ez-link card is good enough, so life is pretty simple here even if you're as absentminded as can be).
Coming back to where I began, I feel incomplete without a book on me, even when I am perfectly sure I shan't have any occasion for boredom or be at a loss as to what to do with time on hand. Of what use is a book when you're going around the city in cabs, visiting monasteries, a mall and a restaurant?
This evening as I tucked my glasses and a thin shawl (for you never know where you'll freeze) into my handbag, my eyes fell on the book on the sofa. Notwithstanding the fact that my bag was already heavy and that I would definitely not need my book on the short outing, I found myself picking it up. I don't know if I should call it an obsession, but I derive an inexplicable strength from books, I get the feeling they'll keep me from loneliness, fear and boredom. No matter what, there is inspiration, succour and relief to be found in the pages of a book. I say this at the obvious risk of sounding incomprehensible; doesn't everybody look for something to cling to and draw strength from? For me, at any given time, it is the book that I'm reading, for I can carry it around with me wherever I go and take comfort in the knowledge of its existence. The extent of my dependence on books really struck me this evening as I wavered for a moment in indecision. Healthy or not, this is one obsession I do not want to get rid of.