On that cold, rainy Sunday, my father quickly helped me along the slippery sidewalk. I grasped his hand with both of mine, for I found the torrents of rain, which were typical of a chilly autumn’s day, horribly frightening. Our clothes dripping, we found refuge in the small bookstore on the side of Miriam Road. The floorboards creaked under our weight as we stumbled in, panting. The store was having a clearance sale, and so just two woven baskets of books lay shoved into a dusty corner. I released my hand from my father’s and slowly walked over to the first basket. The first thing I saw was the corner of a book with a brown cat on its cover. With difficulty, I wrenched it out from under a heavy dictionary; it was titled The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens. This book was a depiction of the popular nursery rhyme, which shared the same title. For some reason, unbeknownst to me to this day, I had to have the book. My father reluctantly bought it for me, as i hadn’t learned to read yet. Keeping my book safe in the plastic “Thank You!” bag, he and I stepped out into the storm once more.
Upon making it home, we found my mother in a state of panic. She was nearly late for her evening course at Northeastern University. We hurriedly drove her into Boston and returned to the warm apartment. A cup of hot jasmine tea in each hand, my father led the way to the sagging sofa under our rickety floor lamp. We sat side by side, and he slowly read to me the book. I gasped and giggled in all the right places, and I made him read it again and again, never tiring of the same rhymes. The sun had long set and the moon had taken its place against the inky sky before I fell asleep slumped on his shoulders and we were done reading for the night. The jasmine and the kittens became a ritual every evening. I couldn’t get enough and my father never complained. Soon enough, I began to pick out words and phrases from the book. Finally one day, we sipped our tea on the old sofa just like any other night, but my father didn’t read, I did.
This book holds a great deal of sentimental value for me because not only is it the first book I ever read, it also connects me to my father. About three years ago, my father suffered a stroke and had to be hospitalized. When my sister and I found out, we visited him with my mom and each of us brought something for him. I ended up bringing the nursery rhyme that we had purchased on Miriam Road so many years ago. The book also reminds me of my father’s immense presence in my life when I was a child. Now, even though he tries his best to make time to be home, he travels almost every other month on business. It is but a happy memory to dwell on the countless evenings we spent together when I was four. The book, now, shows signs of wear and tear. The cover is nearly ripped off, the corners have been softened and curl in, and bright crayon marks almost every page. The dog-eared book that was once shiny and new has persevered many years and difficult times as my father and I have. But, it still sits on my bookshelf, between textbooks and novels, waiting to be read one last time.