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Don't Let the Veelas Carry You!
I sat on the wooden engraved chair, finishing up Arabian Nights. I had finally gotten to the last page, and after reading it, I stood up to put it back on my shelf. Eagerly, my eyes darted from each shelf, looking for another book to read. Once more, my hand flew to another book, Autobiography of King Henry VIII, but then stopped tiredly. I sat down and not knowing what to do, I scratched my head. It’s time to go to Mama’s library, I thought. I smirked, remembering the first time I had read out of her library.
“Mama…” I grumbled with an agitated look.
She looked at me and smiled knowingly. “You’ll thank me for this when you’re older.”
At that age, and sometimes even in this age, I hated that phrase. That phrase, to me at least, was similar to saying,” You’re stupid now, but you’ll get it when you’re smart.” Of course, that wasn’t at all what it meant, but you know how ten year olds are. Anyhow, my parents had decided that I should begin reading other more significant and historical books, unlike my beloved The Cheetah Girls. I remember, even now, how I read that flaring pink book cover over, and over, and over tirelessly, memorizing each ripped and torn page with stubborn devotion.
After reading The Cheetah Girls over thirty times, literally, my parent’s agitation grew, and with my refusal to read anything else came the solemn and sad death of the lowly cockamamie book. My eyes watered and watched as my father’s strong hands rippled, squeezing the love out of the limp and fallen book.
That single moment had changed forever in my view of silly teenager love-puppy stories, and even on my view of life. However, when my new book was handed to me, my eyes popped and my heart deflated.
Never before had I been handed a one thousand-two hundred-sixty-four page book with an expectance to read all of it, not just some.
For several minutes, I stared at that old-looking (even older then The Cheetah Girls!) book with ugly pictures on the front.
I looked up, my eyes rising to my mother’s eye vacantly. “All…. Of it?”
Mama nodded,” It’s a really good book, and it’ll help you with your reading. And you’ll start tonight. Sit here on the couch and call your dad when you are finished.” I hauled my heavy feet to the couch, longing for the pink Cheetah Girls book.
Mama went back to her grading, while Baba went to his computer and resumed typing madly.
I sat there for what seemed like hours, staring at the vile piece of vast, mountainous, cryptic writing that seemed to spit me out every time I tried to enter.
My eyes began reading,” I got down to Yarmouth…” Immediately, I drew out uninterested. Yarmouth? That sounded like a Dentist corporation! I read on,” I got down to Yarmouth in the evening, and went to the inn. I knew that Pegotty…”
My brain here stopped, a person named Pegotty? What kind of story was this?
Every time I began to start rereading, I found myself reading that same paragraph, over and over and over again. It was a constant repetition, a game, where I would regain my courage, dip into the story, zone out, forget what happened, and back to the irksome lifeless cycle. “It was ten o’clock when I went out. Many of the shops were shut, and the towns were dull.” (1) Looking at the short couch, I slouched and pretended to sleep, muttering to myself what a rebel I was, while keeping an eye on my parents.
Forty minutes later, I grew wearisome and heaved myself to Baba, targeting the tall door with flashing lights and a droned voice reading program.
I emitted in a sweet lying tone,” I finished the first chapter Babi!”
He turned, looked at me, and asked me what it was about. “It… It.. It was about a lady named Pegotry. She had an inn where someone was visiting her…” I stumbled.
“Aha…” he retorted with a smile. “Lejla! Dodji ovdje! Merima je zaversela vec!” he said, meaning “Lejla! Come here! Merima has finished already!” My heart sank, knowing my mother would question me.
Then, I rose happily, my mom was busy. I bet she never read this leaden dull…. Thing you call literature! Pooh! As if Mama had to ever read boring books about sad little orphans.
“So, what do you think of Mr. Omer?” she came, excited that her time had finally come to speak to her daughter about literature, the very thing she had spent years and years learning. My eyes fell down and I shuffled my feet.
“Uh… He is very interesting! Peculiar man, isn’t he?” I laughed, lying through my false teeth.
“Did you hear about Emily” she asked, her eyebrow rising.
“Oh sure! Emily was friends with Pegotry, wasn’t she?”
“Merima... her name is PEGOTTY. Emily is Pegotty’s niece. Go back, and reread the chapter please.” “It’s hard!! I can’t get it. It’s stupid.”
“Merima, Charles Dickens is one of the most important writers of our time. You need to know some of his writing.” She said patiently. I turned and stomped out; half-afraid Baba would call me back and ask me if I had a problem.
Three times that night I returned to Baba, both of us getting more aggravated and infuriated. “Vrati se tamo! Nemoj d ate veele nosaju!” he laughed sternly. He had told me,” Go back! Don’t let the “veela” carry you off!” “Veela” was a winged creature, used in Bosnian phrases to say,” Don’t daydream!” After skimming three to four times, I gained somewhat knowledge enough to pass the interrogation for the night. I climbed into bed wearily, wondering if SparkNotes would help at all.
The next day I sat again, near tears. But slowly, I began to catch familiar phrases, and soon began to understand these strange dialogues.
Eventually, I became more interested in the tale of a cast-down infant, whose father dies before his birth. His aunt shows up at his birth, telling Charles’s mother that she would take the infant girl to raise her up properly. Flabbergasted at the doctor’s announcement it was a boy, she left and never returned. To make matters worse, an evil man marries into the family, perhaps even causing the death of the mother. I became the person I am now.
I stood up after remembering this, and went to her library. After searching for a while, I asked Mama,” Do you have any good books or suggestions what I should read? I am having trouble picking out a book.”
She laughed and said,” How about the Cheetah Girls?” I laughed and said, “I thought you’d never ask”.
Park City, Utah
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