Friday, January 19, 2018

Abdul – A Short Story

The screams. He couldn’t block them from his mind. He wished they would stop. But they didn’t. The licked at him menacingly. Refusing to abate. Refusing to die down.

He had hoped that not sleeping would allow him to stay away from those cries of anguish that were haunting his dreams. But the nightmares continued even when he was awake.

Six-year-old Abdul thoughtlessly took a little nibble from the cake in his left hand. He ate because his brain told him to. He did not feel the taste of the breadcrumbs sliding down his throat. He had not felt anything in a long time.

Abdul looked around blankly. He was in a tiny hospital room, sitting on the single bed there. He had no idea what time it was. The pale, orange light streaming in from the big window behind his bed told him that this must be afternoon. The room had been his dwelling-place for the past three weeks. Or was it three months? Abdul wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure of anything since that evening.

That evening.

Despite himself, he couldn’t stop the memory of that evening from creeping up on him again.  The screams. The fire. The blood. The horror. Everything was still so fresh.

It was a Friday evening like every other in little Abdul’s life in the small town of Dammam. He was playing catch with his favourite red ball – a present from his mother on his fifth birthday last year – in the little backyard of their house while waiting for his Abbu to freshen up and join him. He was excited as after finishing the catching game he would get the chance to devour the scrumptious kebabs being prepared by his Ammi inside in the kitchen.

Abdul was hitting the ball against the solitary tree stump in their backyard and trying to grab it on the rebound with both his palms, just as his father had taught him. His focus was broken when he heard a loud, crashing noise from inside. Abdul whipped around, and from the window in front of him, saw a group of five men marching into their drawing room. All of them wore black masks – only their eyes and lips were visible – and wielded large guns and shiny metals that Abdul had only seen in some films.  

He watched in horror as one of the men pulled his father roughly from the armchair he was sitting on and struck him viciously on the head with the butt of his gun. He slumped to the ground like a rag doll. Abdul was shocked, confused. He didn’t know what was happening. He saw his Ammi rushing in from inside and being immediately grabbed by a couple of the men. He saw a flash of silver followed by a spray of blood spattering the window panes in front of him. He saw his Ammi slowly collapse on the floor as well.

Abdul was frozen. He couldn’t move. He wanted to call out, but his mind had gone blank. He was shaking feverishly and clutched the little red ball in his palm with all his might.

He saw the five men drag his Ammi to the center of the room, shove her on top his Abbu and bind them both with a chain. Then they sprayed some liquid on them. And a moment later there was fire all over. Abdul’s eyes widened as he heard the screams of agony of his Ammi and Abbu. Both of them writhed; engulfed in yellow flames, shrieking terribly.

Abdul could do nothing. He stood there outside the window helplessly, trying to say something. But the words just remained stuck in his throat.

He saw the men leaving the house. He heard his Ammi and Abbu’s screams die out little by little. He saw them finally stop struggling. He saw the flames leap across every corner of his house. He heard a great explosion inside and the glass panes in front of him shattering into a million pieces.  

Abdul remained rooted as the shards of glass, still carrying the blood stains of his Ammi, flew up at him and pierced his face. He felt himself being hurled off the ground, still clutching his favourite red ball in his left palm.

The last thing he remembered, as he was still in flight, was him finally finding his voice and managing to whisper: “Ammiii”.

And then there was nothing.


Abdul remembered waking up in a hospital amidst a lot of commotion. There were unknown faces surrounding him and his entire right side was in excruciating pain. He kept drifting in and out of consciousness. And the screams of his mother kept piercing his dreams.

The right side of Abdul’s body had faced multiple burns – the hair, face, hands, and legs had all been parched.

A sea of people had swooped in on him with a barrage of questions during the initial few days. There were men with cameras and notepads and men wearing different colored uniforms wandering in and out of his hospital room frequently. But Abdul could not bring himself to speak to them. He did not have it in him.

He registered fragments of words like “ISIS”, “Revenge” and “Jihad” a few times from the people who would be speaking around him. But those words meant nothing to him. Nothing mattered to him any longer.


 “Why haven’t you finished your cake?”

Abdul looked up to see a kind-looking plump woman dressed in all whites peering at him with concern. It was the nurse.

With time, the crowd in his little hospital room had trickled down to a minimum. Now, it was usually the gentle nurse who came in from time to check on him and give him food regularly.

“You have some visitors today, boy,” she said with a benign smile.

As she moved aside, Abdul saw two people standing at the door – a tall and lean woman draped in an elegant, black Abaya and a little girl with short hair in a red frock, holding the woman’s hand. He recognized them immediately. They were his neighbours from across the street – Aunt Daaniya and her five-year-old daughter, Mehrin.

Aunt Daaniya’s family were great friends with Abdul’s parents and little Mehrin had been his best friend since as long he could remember. Every afternoon after school, they would spend hours together – doing school work, playing games, watching cartoons and reading comic books. Although she was a year younger to Abdul, the two had great camaraderie and were inseparable friends.

Abdul recalled Mehrin mentioning to him that she would be out vacationing somewhere this month with her family. He couldn’t remember the name of the place. It seemed to him like that conversation had taken place a lifetime ago.

The two of them walked tentatively towards Abdul. Mehrin, holding her mother’s hand, looked at him with a confused, almost scared look. It was an expression Abdul wasn’t accustomed to seeing on her usually cheerful and happy face.

Mehrin let go of her mother’s hand and inched closer to Abdul, not taking her eyes off him for a second. As she stood in front of him, her lips trembled. It was as if she was seeing her best friend in a completely different light today. She stood there. Gaping at him. Her breathing becoming heavy.

The little girl’s eyes blinked furiously for a few seconds and then a solitary teardrop glided down her soft cheek.

“Ab…Ab…,” she tried to say. But her voice seemed to be caught.

“Ab…Abb…Abb…,” she spluttered. Her voice came in little gasps. Her face streamed with tears.

Abdul could feel something stirring inside him. He didn’t know what it was.

He moved both his hands and held his little friend’s face with his palms.

Mehrin shuddered at his touch. The pink color of her face had gone red.

“Ab…Abb…Abdulll…!” she finally managed to whisper even as the tears kept flowing down her face. 

An odd sensation coursed through Abdul. As he sat there, cupping his friend’s face in his palms, watching her innocent eyes glistening with tears, he felt as if something heavy and dark was being siphoned off from inside him.

With every teardrop that glided down Mehrin’s face, Abdul felt lighter than he had done in a long time. He wanted to cry, too. But he had lost the ability to produce tears. For now, it was his best friend who was doing the crying for him.

They stayed there like that for what felt like an eternity, before Abdul finally noticed Aunt Daaniya’s voice saying something. She had bent down in front of him.

“Abul, my dear boy! You will stay with us from now on, okay?” she said kindly. Her voice was heavy and, Abdul noticed, her eyes were puffy and red.

Abdul looked at her and then at Mehrin again. He gently wiped her tears with his hands and then slowly nodded at Aunt Daaniya.

“I pro…I promise you will be all right, son! I promise.” she said softly with a sniff and then proceeded to kiss Abdul on the forehead.

“You will be all right.”


Two hours later, the three of them were walking along the hospital corridor: Aunt Daaniya ambling ahead with Abdul and Mehrin behind her.

“You will stay in Reiaf bhai’s room, Abdul. He doesn’t live here any longer. So you will have the whole room to yourself,” Mehrin chirped while holding Abdul’s right hand, the one that had been burnt.

“And you don’t worry, Abdul,” she said while bouncing up and down on her feet and literally dragging him ahead with all the force her tiny body could muster, “We will play so many games. And watch cartoons. And read comics….”

A slight smile appeared on Abdul’s face as he watched his little friend hop and drag him forward.

He didn’t know what lay ahead for him. He didn’t know if the screams in his nightmares would stop. He didn’t know if he would be able to sleep again.

But he knew that it was after a long time that he was feeling something. A narrow crevice of light had opened up inside him. And Abul wanted to hold on to it with every bit of him.

“…And I will also play catch with you, Abdul. I will not complain. I promise,” Mehrin’s chirpy voice floated up to him.

Abdul just smiled and walked on with her, clutching her little fingers tightly with his right hand. He had a feeling that with Mehrin by his side that crevice inside him would open up further every day.

And then there was the little red ball he gripped firmly in his left hand which would help a bit too, perhaps.

All rights reserved


The intention of this story is not to preach. This is a plot that I had in mind for months, but was apprehensive on attempting it because of how disturbing the premise was. I obviously had no reference points to take. But I still wanted to do it. I will tell you why.

Terrorism has become so common these days that it’s almost a part of our day-to-day life now. There is no escape from it. But I often think what happens to the survivors of those families who have been brutally affected by it? How do they move on? We all know there must be hundreds of Abduls out there today. Why I wanted to write this story was the belief that for every Abdul there perhaps always will be a Mehrin too, somewhere.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Book Review: Sunshine Town by Maniissh Aroraa

I had a rather tough time preparing for my first-semester college exams. Those weren't easy days. I had just lost my mother a year back and then had had to undergo a delicate back surgery a few months before I had taken admission in the new college. As the exam time dawned, I was stranded alone at home and concentrating on studies was difficult. My father and my brother did not expect me to do well. They knew I had had to go through a lot these past few months.

But despite the distractions and the mental wounds gnawing at me, despite the overpowering feeling of loneliness, I pulled myself up, poured my heart out in the exam preparations and scored exactly 75 percent. My confidence grew and I topped the college in the next semester, registering 91 %. It was one of the high-points of my life and the adulation I received in its wake was something I had never tasted before. It made me believe that focus and hard work towards a set goal does yield positive results. Even at this stage of my life, when hope feels lost, I regularly look back at that phase when I seek motivation.

Now, why am I telling you all this? Because reading Sunshine Town by debut author Maniissh Aroraa brought back some of those memories.

It’s a book aimed specifically at teenagers and college students who, more often than not, find themselves at a crossroads in their life, and grapple with several career decisions. If taken in the right spirit, the book can work well as a motivation vehicle.


Sunshine Town is centered on a teenager, Shlok, and the trials and tribulations of his career and love life. Hailing from a typical middle-class Indian family in the small town of Varanasi, Shlok wants to fulfill the dream of his father of becoming a successful doctor. While he is a pretty average student, he has a lot of resolve. But despite his repeated and meticulously planned attempts at success in his studies, Shlok fails and begins to doubt his worth, feels lost and loses hope.

Picture courtesy ""

In the meanwhile, he also meets Natasha, his next-door neighbour, and falls in love with her. She brings in some light and cheer in his life. But here, too, Shlok has to struggle to keep his relationship afloat.

Will Shlok be able to achieve the dream of his father? Or will he find a different path in his life? These are some of the questions that Sunshine Town addresses and takes us on the coming of age journey of this everyday teenager, while giving us some valuable life lessons along with it.

What I liked about the book:

The lead character

For any story to be interesting, the lead character has to be, at some level, relatable. Shlok is a likable teenager and behaves and feels in a way that most of us have in our lives.

He is a sincere lad and despite the adverse situations, keeps fighting hard to stay afloat and find meaning in his life.

Shlok is an average student. But through sheer hard work, careful planning and scheduling of his studies, and relentless dedication, he manages to pass through several difficult examinations. When not studying, Shlok devotes time to making himself fit and sprucing up the garden of his home.

He is a loyal son and a protagonist worth rooting for. In short, the youngsters of today can relate to Shlok and also take a lot of inspiration from him.

Shlok’s relationships with his parents

I always look for good and genuine bonds in a book. And while the story of Sunshine Town isn’t exactly about relationships, I found the bonds that Shlok shared with his mother and father very genuine and tender.

I believe that most Indian middle-class youth have similar relationships with their parents today. Shlok’s mother is the typical Indian mother; always caring, always supporting. Shlok’s father, while a serious figure, is his son’s guiding light and through his sage advice is always steering him in the right direction.

I could especially relate to Shlok’s relationship with his father – it reminded me of my own bonding with my dad.

Message of motivation

The inherent and underlying message of Sunshine Town is laudable. It would make the perfect read for teens appearing for their 12th exams and for those who are already in college but are at a crossroads on what path to take ahead.

Through Shlok’s journey - from the preparation for his class 12 exams to the eventual course he takes - we get to know about the various prospects young Indian students have in their career and how they should not lose hope even if they fail in the entrance examinations. It talks about finding a true goal for oneself and looking within. It tells us that despite fate not being kind towards your hard work, despite everything coming to a standstill, despite the roadblocks, there is always some light for everyone to latch on to; a lot can be achieved through unyielding toil and finding a proper guide in life.

These messages will work well for the Indian youth if taken in the right spirit.

What I felt could have been better:

While I liked Sunshine Town, I wish it was a tad longer; the story felt rushed at certain places.

I wanted to know more about the love story between Shlok and Natasha and the friendship the boy had with Yana. The latter, especially, was an interesting, happy-go-lucky character that helped Shlok through a difficult time. I would have loved to see some more time spent on the duo’s friendship.

The essence of the city of Varanasi should have been explored. I get that the focus was on the young boy and his ambition, but using the charm of the town of Varanasi could have added a different color to the story, in my view.

Also, in the prologue, we already get to know that Shlok is a successful professional before he dives back into his past. I felt that had that not been revealed, Shlok’s journey towards success in the story would have had that much more anticipation and interest as a reader.

The cover could have been better. It did not speak to me or attract me. And nor did I find it to be connected to the story. Maybe, a new cover in the reprint, where the protagonist is actually in action, might serve better.


Sunshine Town is an easy-to-read, breezy novel that should appeal to the Indian youth and their parents to an extent. It has a nice and different concept and is written in a simple language.

If you are an Indian teenager and bored of the endless barrage of campus romance novels out there, then you can try Sunshine Town. It will help you get some clarity and push in your career. It’s good to feel motivated every once in a while, after all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Doubly happy here. I am done with my first book of 2018. And with it, I am also done with the first graphic novel of my life.

I had initially thought I might not review this. But I have been compelled to since the story did leave quite an impact on me.

I will try to keep this short.

I have had a lot of reservations about reading graphic novels in the past. Now, I am a comic book lover. But whenever I have attempted any graphic novels, I have had to put them down after a few pages.

Firstly, the artwork really matters to me. The graphic novels I have read have had too extravagant and glossy artworks for my liking. Secondly, I feel uncomfortable and get put-off if the dialogue in the speech bubbles is too congested with words crammed in whatever little space there is.

“Drama” scores on both those points. And that is what attracted me to it immediately. My eyes were instantly glued to the cover page itself and as I kept reading the novel, I realized it had a charming story to tell with some relatable characters and important messages that should appeal to all teenagers (and, perhaps, to all of us).


The story of Drama revolves around a teenage girl Callie who has been appointed as the set designer for her middle school's production of 'Moon Over Mississippi'. Callie loves theater. And while nursing a broken heart, she dives into the production, determined to create a set that would be worthy of Broadway.

Here she encounters two twin brothers with whom she instantly strikes a great bond. Pretty soon, her personal life and the drama on and off-stage becomes intertwined and leads to complications of both the heart and the work she is doing behind the stage. How she deals with those while also discovering a thing or two about relationships and her own self is the crux of the story. 

Things that I liked about Drama:

As I was reading the story, I had thought it would be a pretty cute, albeit charming, teenage drama and after the first 20 pages, had even predicted the ending. But, boy, was I wrong!
Yes, this is a middle-grade novel aimed primarily at teenage girls. But Drama has more elements to explore if you are willing to give it time.

The lead character:

Callie. Oh, Callie! This girl’s vivacious energy is absolutely infectious. She is bold. She is funny. She is inspiring. She is real.

These days, we often see teenage girls in films and television being projected as snobbish, whiny, self-centered and outright annoying.

Callie comes as a breath of fresh air. Her single-minded devotion to her passion – theatre- is motivating and how she dives into her role as a set designer is applause-worthy. Despite the numerous hurdles she faces, this plucky girl does not give up and does her job with such enthusiasm and verve you can’t help but feel inspired.

She nurses a broken heart, is confused about her feelings for a boy and yet never diverts her attention from her work. She is a dreamer, a very good friend and a jovial and adventurous person to be around.

I would like to have a friend like Callie.

The handling of homosexuality:

The issue of homosexuality and of 'coming out' in teenagers is explored very sensitively and without shying down in Drama. I am not sure how everyone would feel about this, though. Because, apparently, a few readers have had issues with the story for the way it explores gay relationships. In fact, a few Goodreads users have pointed out that their experience of reading Drama was sullied as books that are "kid friendly" should not have “inappropriate behavior” in them.

Now, I don’t even know how to react to these comments. I really don’t. I don’t want to come off as preachy, but I found some of these comments disturbing on so many levels. I am not a parent and neither am I a champion of gay rights, but to believe that talking about homosexuality in novels meant for children is scandalous is, well, upsetting. This is something that should, in fact, be addressed more openly now and given that there is a book doing just that and handling it so authentically, I would have made my child read it with an open mind.

Drama deals with the homosexuality issue in as real and genuine a way as possible. In fact, on far too many occasions I have been put off by Hollywood films and television series when they project gay men as effeminate and when their actions and behavior are used for comical effect.

In Drama, the gay characters are normal and behave as, well, normal people do. Yes, they struggle with their sexuality and the way it is expressed is very sincere.

In fact, towards the end, the “coming out” of a character, when the play is live, is done so beautifully and magnificently, that I felt like applauding. It was the moment of the book for me and gave me goosebumps. I am certain this scene will be much talked about and if it ever comes on screen, and is handled with equal grace, will be something to remember.

The behind-the-scenes working of a stage production:

While I am not a fan of theatre, I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes working of a stage production that was shown in Drama. It gives us a pretty convincing inside look of what happens behind the theatre stage.
Reading this reminded me of the time I had worked on a play while in the 4th standard (Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja). While I was the actor there, I did have a pretty decent look at the amount of hard work the crew members had to put in and Drama made me recall those times.  Yes, today the times have changed significantly, but the essence of a school stage production, I guess, has remained much the same.  

The artwork:

Ah, yes! The artwork. This, in fact, is the primary reason that had lured me towards Drama. Raina Telgemeier’s artwork and Gurihiru’s colors are absolutely gorgeous here. They have painted such vibrant and ravishing color schemes and palettes in the novel that it pulled me into its world with absolute ease and I wished I could stay inside those panels.

The beautiful artwork reminded me of my two favorite Indian cartoonists – Ram Waeerkar and Vasant Halbe – whose works for Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha have mesmerized me for decades now.

THIS is the kind of artwork that I look forward to in comics and graphic novels these days – clean, attractive, and lucid and never overboard. I am now on a mission to find out more graphic novels with similar artwork. I have tasted blood. And I want more!

In conclusion:

Drama is a terrific graphic novel with a lot of heart. Though it is aimed at teens (primarily 7th and 8th graders), adults should find it captivating as well.

It has enough  and engaging moments with witty and simple dialogues to keep your attention. The vast cast of characters is interesting and will give you several laugh-out-loud moments.

It speaks about dreams, friendships, and courage and touches on the theme of homosexuality in a very authentic manner. In all, I found Drama a heart-warming and inspiring story that had me grinning from ear to ear throughout its 240-odd pages.

Raina Telgemeier’s work as an illustrator and as a story-teller impressed me greatly and I will be looking forward to her other works eagerly.

(P.S.: I have decided to refrain from rating books from this year on. I always found giving out stars to books a tad uncomfortable. It feels a little condescending to me. I would rather just give my views on what I felt about the book and leave it there.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Best Book Quotes of 2017

Now that the year is coming to an end, I would like to share the quotes from different books that had an effect on me, made me think and just stayed with me in the year 2017. I have had this habit for years now - of noting down the book quotes that touch me in some way. These are my selected ten for this year, with little notes on what I think of them. 

1.) “My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I'll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I'll forget it some tomorrow doesn't mean that I didn't live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn't mean that today didn't matter.”

― Lisa Genova, Still Alice

Note: I remember as I was reading this, I felt a strange sensation coursing through me. I wanted to shut the book down, get up and begin applauding even as tears rolled down my cheeks. It was powerful. It was moving. And it was inspiring.

2.) “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

― R.J. Palacio, Wonder

Note: I have repeated this quote in my mind so often in the past six months. It made me think. It made me look back at a few moments and people of my life. It made me think about my mother. I thought she deserved a standing ovation, too.

3.) “So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

― Roald Dahl, Matilda

Note: Ah, don’t all book lovers relate to these words? I certainly do. The “you are not alone” bit stands so true for my childhood, as I am sure it does for most of you here. My books were my companion in my childhood days. And I remember sleeping with my favourite titles tucked under my pillow every night. They made me feel safe. They made me feel not alone.

4.) “The mother in her believed that the love she had for her daughter was safe from the
mayhem of her mind, because it lived in her heart.”

― Lisa Genova, Still Alice

Note: Again, words from this book that tore at my heart. Alice’s pain as a mother was heartbreaking to witness in the story. And yet, these words gave me hope. The love of a mother, after all, cannot be touched by any disease in the world.

5.) “They had grown up to believe that the natural order of things was for one’s home to be a place of freedom and space far removed from the complexities and restrictions of human societies. We”

― Kobie Kr├╝ger, The Wilderness Family

Note: Kobie Kruger’s eighteen years with her family in the southern African wilderness is inspiring and enlightening. These are her proud words for doing a fine job as a mother trying to bring up three little children while being surrounded by wildlife. Ah. And how true! By being in the wilderness and among animals, her children learned the most valuable life lessons.

6.) "It’s not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. It takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see. like with parents who adore you blindly. And a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. And a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you. and even a pink-haired girl who carries your picture in her wallet. Maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. The universe takes care of all its birds.”

― R.J. Palacio, Wonder

Note: Of course, it’s fictional. But in this lonely little world, these words kind of make me feel good. They make me believe, even if it’s ever so little. Because it’s just nice to think that someone is watching over us…Taking care of us…Isn't it?

7.) “The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”

― Roald Dahl, Matilda

Note: I guarantee that those of you who are reading this for the first time will have an instant connect to it. After all, this is what connects us most to the world of book, perhaps. The fact that they have the ability to transport to so many new worlds.

8.) “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.”

― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Note: Ah… This poem (sung boisterously by the Oompa Loompas) really stayed with me. I just felt that most of the words of this thought-provoking poem stand true for the present generation of our smart-phone obsessed children as well (as well as us).

9.) "On reaching the spot where the body had been devoured, a dreadful spectacle presented itself. The ground all round was covered with blood and morsels of flesh and bones, but the unfortunate jemadar's head had been left intact, save for the holes made by the lion's tusks on seizing him, and lay a short distance away from the other remains, the eyes staring wide open with a startled, horrified look in them.”

- J.H. Patterson, The Man-eaters of Tsavo

Note: I can’t explain how these words affected me. I mean, they aren’t exactly moving or inspiring. But they certainly held my attention. And I never forgot them. It was disturbing, and at the same time, gripping to read this. The legend of the man-eaters of Tsavo has really fascinated me since I was a boy. And to finally have read that story in its rawest and truest form was a chilling experience. This part, the most as they reflected the extent of terror those two lions had managed to induce.

10.) “I don’t mean to imply that I value the life of a fish or a bird the same way I value a human life, but their presence in the world has as much validity as does our presence. Perhaps more: they were here first; they are foundational to us. They take only what they need. They are compatible with the life around them.”

― Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Note: I have a deep love for animals and have always believed that we humans do not deserve to stay in the same word as they. Animals are pure, unlike us. “Beyond Words” is an exemplary book that makes one empathize with animals and respect them much more. Often we take them from granted, as a mere presence. But they are more than that. And this quote reaffirms that belief.

Please do share your best book quotes of the year below.