Going through my bookshelf, I came upon “The Voyage Out” Virginia Woolf’s first novel. I had bought this novel in 1983 at Victoria train station.

My sister’s Saudi friend Rabia was coming to London to spend a few days with her. This friendship had started in Lahore, Pakistan where both were doing MBBS in FJMC.  This vacation package was from her father for working hard to obtain a doctors degree.  We were also vacationing in Surray at that time.  My sis asked me to accompany her to the station but my husband and I were taking the boys out to lunch at a recently opened new eating place in Wembly. I told him about what my sister had asked me. We decided that he should take the boys there and after, picking up Rabia, we would meet them at the restaurant.  So we left for Victoria train station and they for Wembly.

While waiting for the train to arrive, I started checking out the books. It was a small kiosk and the books were displayed on revolving stands. I bought a few books, mainly journals and biographies.  I had not read Virginia Woolf by that time. Seeing a number of her books displayed, I bought three of her novels as well. “The Voyage Out” was  one of them. Over the time I read all I had bought that day except this novel.

Actually, this was the first book I picked up that night before going to bed but being on a vacation, moving all the time, going here to see this, going there to do that, I could not make a connection with the story or the book didn’t make any favorable impression on me.

After having a memorable time in England we came back, got busy and the usual routine of life resumed. I read my books one by one, leaving this on the night table, intending to read it when ready to read it. I never was.

When  coming here it was not possible to lug all the books with us. I selected a few the rest were donated to a library.  I still remember, when leaving for the airport I went to my room one last time to have a look and saw this book still on the night table.  I was leaving a house full of things, why bother about a book. I was about to leave, but then I went back slipped the book in my bag an left the house.

Now After – what? twenty seven years!  I took out the book from my book shelf, determined to read it and I did read it this time.

I finished it yesterday and I am – I don’t know what I am feeling? Sad – maybe – but why? I do not know.

The twenty four year old, mother less girl who grew up on her father’s cargo ship was a dying breed – last specimen of innocence – one could tell after reading first few pages. She had not received any formal education, no general knowledge of facts of life but had a born talent to understand music and plays piano well. When on land, she lived with her two, old and unmarried aunts.

At one point her late mother’s sister who was invited to spend some time on ship, self appoints herself to educate this girl.

The girl catches some deadly virus on a river expedition  in South America and dies shortly after that.

I did not read the last few pages for a while. Why? it was just a story!  So?

May be the timing was wrong because I cannot think of any other reason.

I am watching a very sad, Pakistani drama on GEO these days. Very painful story lines.

Stories are not always true. True. But there is always some truth behind them. I am sure of that. Because it is always some thing the writer saw, watched, heard, and then started thinking, weaving, kneading, painting ….  CREATING!

Its a good writer that involves the mind and leaves a lasting impression. It does not matter it made you feel sad in the end. Be thankful that it gave you something.

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