Home Stamp collecting Tell me “no” | The star of the day

Tell me “no” | The star of the day


Illustration: Mrittika Anan Rahman


Illustration: Mrittika Anan Rahman

“This book is on sale. All the books are on sale because I have a staff discount. Also, I have another book by the same author on my shelf, which has been gathering dust for just under three years now.”

Although the author received the Booker’s Award for this book, I slowly, quietly put it back on the shelf.

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My colleague notices this and offers me a sixty percent discount on the title. That seals the deal. And now that I get a book, of course, I can buy two more.

I go home 70% happy, 20% ashamed, and 10% determined to start reading at least one of the books I just bought. All three join my final pile to read. The other stacks of unread books look at me accusingly. It makes me even more ashamed. And since I can’t afford sadness right now, I quickly order snacks.

I’m going through the next week as a decent, non-impulsive human being. No impromptu book hauling, purchase just one recently published illustrated poetry book. The colors remind me of a scarf I resisted buying a few days ago. I figure matching my current reading with my scarf is the dumbest idea I’ve ever had. However, one of my other personalities convinced me that Luna Lovegood would have done it.

Thinking about Luna makes me want to read the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. And that’s exactly what I do because no one says “no” when Hogwarts calls. My four stacks to read (classified by genre) are slowly abandoning me.

Having grown up with too many restrictions, the lack of supervision in all aspects of my life is new to me. I’m starting to notice it in unexpected little places, like buying three cotton candy instead of one and not hearing a single complaint about it, or sending gifts to friends without having to explain the occasion. I suddenly discover that I can buy a book just because I want to read it, no debate about the fairness of the price being necessary.

It’s wonderful but at the same time, a little damaging. It’s gratifying to be able to indulge myself with the things I love. The problem is that I love a questionable amount of stuff. And after a while, it gets pretty exhausting.

I realize in all this ordeal that when I say no to myself, I always talk to my parents. In my head, I copy the way they spoke to me when they denied me a book, trip, or device I desperately wanted. The “no” came from a place of control, so it was very easy to lose said control.

So it became much easier to refrain from impulse and unnecessary purchases when I accepted the fact that I was saying no to myself, and no to the ghosts of the past.