Person with addictive personality is reading a book by and about another person with an addictive personality.

At first it felt like a mild high, reading this book and its racy narrative. Now this book feels like an illness, a fever. It is coming in the way of everything else I am supposed to be doing. I love feeling ill. It means I can lie in bed and not have to do anything. People with addictive personalities find relief in exhaustion.

Person narrating the book writes down a life goal he wants to achieve in five years. He is in a therapy session. Person reading the book also writes down a life goal.

If he can make it, she thinks, I can make it too. He is clever. But he is also nice. He is not over-clever.

A heroin addict has hit rock bottom and is determined to return to life. She checks the blurb again. The addict will recover and write this book she is holding in her hands. She wants to put it down already and start ordering copies for her friends. She just has to get her friend G to read it right now. She wants to rub her friend A’s face into the book. . Send a copy to F and R as well. She knows that she must keep this urge to herself.

Focus on yourself. Be a friend to yourself first. Everyone else’s time to recover will come when it has to come.

I am hurrying towards its end now. I have deadlines of my own. I am wearing this book like skin these days. I want to outgrow it, step out of this world and liberate myself. I am in someone else’s story, going from room to room with him, back and forth over the years. His hurts, his humiliations, the moments when he was his worst self: He is free enough to write those down and set them out into the world. Live my story with me and take what you want from it, the narrator seems to be saying.

I go to sleep in the middle of the day to take a break from the book. Just like I sleep between paragraphs when I am writing, I need to sleep between events in this book for my subconscious to process what I am reading. The pain in the words.

Person reading the book is judgy. I am using this word to stand in for judgemental because of course I am not judgemental. I never judge anyone who fits my bill of an ideal person. I am appreciating the author for his self-deprecating humour. He is articulate and kind, with a dark shadow that haunts. I am trying to judge the author’s literary style. He writes as if he is talking to the reader, addressing her directly. He writes as if he is narrating a story to a live, wide-eyed audience, keeping the narration at a slightly higher pitch to keep everyone’s attention locked. I give up trying to be snooty about his literary style.

The book is failing the Bechdel test completely so far. No two women are talking to each other. The men are cute, though.

It has been over two weeks since I finished reading White Magic by Arjun Nath. The story remains with me. It is almost filmy—the locations and characters, the scenes the author recreates, the heroic narrator. His combination of being vulnerable and insightful, friendly and awkward, loving and lost is impossible not to identify with. Not to want to be friends with.

I send him a friend request on Facebook. I don’t really want to break the boundary between the author I have read and the person in real life. I want to give something back to him; in gratitude for telling his story, for his searing honesty, for recovering from his hell. There is a raw power in a well-told story. The world needs more true stories. They heal—not only the storyteller, but the listener as well.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three. She tweets at @natashabadhwar and posts on Instagram as natashabadhwar.

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