Monday, January 4, 2010

Reading Backwards

“Vatche, why are you holding a book that way?” Adrian put his back against the wall, slid down to the floor, and sat next to me.

“Well, that’s the way the Japanese read it.” I smiled as I closed the book.

“But you’re not Japanese, the book is written in English, and the book is just all reversed.” He snatched the book from my hands and flipped through the Japanese comic book.

“It’s called a manga,” I took the book back from him.

“What is a manga?” He leaned against the wall instead of hunching his back and stared at the green lockers in front of us. We were in school early in the morning.

A ghost town.

Lights beamed on the top of our heads, cold tiles touched our warm bodies, and the school made strange humming sounds throughout the halls much like a UFO.

“This is manga!” I pushed it up against his face. The book lightly touched his red nose.

“Ok, ok. I know that!” He pushed it aside. “You know what I mean,” he smirked.

“Well, manga is like a Japanese comic book. You read it from right-to-left, like the Japanese. If the publisher flipped it around, everything would be on the wrong side.”

“Like?” Adrian was curious. He kidnapped the comic book from my hands and flipped through it.

I stole it from him. “Will you stop doing that? You’ll damage it.”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry, I forgot how you were with books. They’re like sacred objects to you.”

“Yeah, believe it.” I put the book gently to the floor. “Anyway, imagine a camera-shot of two people in a car.”

“Ok,” Adrian nodded his head.

“Now, imagine who’ll be sitting on the left and who’ll be on the right.”

“Left is driver. Right is passenger.”

“Good, but if it’s switched.”

Adrian thought, “I get it.”

“Yeah, now imagine a person wearing a shirt with letters on it—”

“It would be reversed if the publisher decided to make it like an American comic book.” Adrian interrupted.

“Exactly. Some publishers do this with their manga, but most of them keep their manga in the original format.” I smiled knowing that Adrian was getting interested; he eyed the book like a rat to cheese.

“Here,” I took the book from the floor and handed it to him.

“Thanks,” he opened it to the first page and began to read.

I’ve known Adrian for a long time now. A big guy, six foot tall, husky, spiked hair, always smiling, and not as scary as some people believe. He was a gentle giant, I guess.

Seeing him reading this tiny book in his huge hands, just made me smile. His long fingers on the manga reminded me of roots in soil. He was home.

I don’t know why I was smiling. Maybe, because Adrian didn’t read a lot and the fact that a book interested him made me happy? Or, was it because I got another thing in common with Adrian now?

I sat there with a dumb smile on my face and didn’t even know why. Someone walked by and sat down next to Adrian. It was Antonio. He was six foot tall, wore glasses, and had a bowl-like haircut. “What’s up you guys?”

“Nothing,” I whispered not wanting to disturb Adrian.

Adrian didn’t answer; he continued reading.

“Why are you whispering?” Antonio asked.

I merely pointed at Adrian reading.

“Adrian, what’s up?” Antonio readjusted his glasses to his face.

Adrian didn’t answer. He was in a trance, in another world.

Antonio punched Adrian in the shoulder.

Adrian came back to our world. “Yeah. Huh? I’m good.” He dove back into manga, back into a world besides our own.

“Vatche, what in the hell is he reading?” He didn’t whisper, but said it aloud, because he hoped that Adrian would answer.

“A book,” I told him as I got up from my seat on the cold floor.

“I know that, but what type of book?”

“Ask Adrian,” I walked away, “See yah, you guys, I got to head to Calculus.”

Antonio looked at the book in Adrian’s hand. “See yah, Vatche.”

“Bye, Vatche,” Adrian looked out at me as I walked down the hallway. My footsteps echoed and the sound filled my ears. Another sound accompanied the echo, the closing of a book.

Then, I heard Adrian’s voice talking to Antonio. “It’s called manga.”

I knew why I was smiling now: I made an impact in Adrian’s life. He would later go into reading manga everyday. Read it before he went to sleep, read it while he ate, and try to convert others into manga-lovers.

I turned around and saw Antonio grab the book from Adrian’s hands. “Hey, don’t do that,” Adrian put it back and gently put it on the floor.

“Why not?” Antonio asked as he punched Adrian in the shoulder again.

They began an argument of words with one another. The words were lost to my ears. I already knew what Adrian was going to say.

I laughed as my ghostly footsteps followed me and left the conversation behind me. I looked behind me, one last time, to see what I created behind me: a new Adrian.


jeannine said...

nice job vatche
keep up the GREAT WORK

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