It had rained heavy at times last night, and so I dressed for cool weather. I ate breakfast and slung the backpack over my shoulders and walk to the car with my parents. The 1980 model gray Chevy Impala, was parked in the driveway and I walked around the front to get to my seat behind the passenger. My heart sinks to my stomach, and I stop walking, as I see what’s on the right side hood of the car. My book, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, is lying on the hood of the car, its purple front cover warped and the tan-colored pages soaked all the way through. I pick it up and left over water drips from the paperback spine onto my shoes. My heart is aching and I feel dread in my stomach. I want to weep. I could not imagine life without this book. It taught me everything I needed to know but that I couldn’t learn about at home — maxi pads and periods, kissing and boys, and religion.
When I asked my mom about periods, all she said was, your body is changing, and that means you need to be careful around boys– so I knew kissing was also a no-go topic. (Religion wasn’t unallowed, but we were Hindu, which was clearly the best and most tolerant religion, and that was that). This book was my savior, and I could not imagine my life without it, reading and re-reading paragraphs, by flashlight in my room. I needed this book.
If I told my mom that the book was ruined, she would scold me for not taking better care of my books. She would not see the need to buy it again, since I had already read it, and I clearly demonstrated that I cannot take care of my things. I concealed my grief, and carried the book with both hands into the car and lay it gently down on the seat next to me.
Later that night, I lay the book onto a washcloth in my room near the heater, hoping that it would dry. The cover had valiantly shielded the pages within, but it was starting to separate from the spine. I nursed the book over the next week, checking on the pages, and only turning them when I knew they were dry enough to crackle. I could never again read the book from beginning to end. A few times, I filed through the pages and found a paragraph to re-read, but eventually, the book had to be put down. I tried to distance myself, by reading other books – Black Beauty, which I hated, and Ramona and Beezus, which was too babyish for me. I tried not to think about it, but the pain persisted. One day, I decided that it was time to let it go. When the family was downstairs, I brought the book to the kitchen, and placed it in the kitchen garbage. I took a stack of napkins, not too many, because that would appear suspicious and might yield a lecture on wasting napkins, and covered up the book. I never saw that book again.