Short Stories

D for Dictionary (AToZChallenge)

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“Long ago, there lived a book called Dictionary. It was the most widely read – err- used book in the world. Dictionary’s prominence was unbeatable. No other book could compete with its popularity. Almost everyone had the Dictionary at their home. It was used by every reader of newspaper. Every school or college student brought the Dictionary to school. Even the libraries had duplicate copies of it. The reason why the Dictionary was so renowned was that it blessed human beings with the knowledge of words. It enriched the vocabulary of students, teachers, writers and people of other professions too. Among the books of the world, Dictionary remained the bestseller of all time. Yet it never took pride in itself. It humbly introduced people to new words and even made them understand completely by providing descriptions and examples.

One fine day, a technology named Internet came into existence. Dictionary thought that the Internet would never steal away its beloved people from it. But it was just the opposite. As days passed away, Internet turned into the arch nemesis of Dictionary. Soon, people began losing interest in using the Dictionary. They thought that it was of no use when the ever widening and easy-to-use Internet was accessible to them. Libraries disposed off copies of the Dictionary, except a single copy for namesake. The shelves of the bookshops held less copies of it. Even if the Dictionary was gifted to a child, he or she casually tossed it away. Instead of the Dictionary, newspaper readers held smartphones or laptops beside them. The first ever written version of the Dictionary named ‘A Table Alphabeticall’ by Robert Cawdrey in 1604 also lost its charm and only one copy of it survived. Dictionary felt hurt. Nobody even cared to glimpse at it. Only a few (extremely few) old-fashioned people still used it. And that too, they were either in their 60s or 70s, who probably didn’t know how to use the Internet.

‘Oh, what has happened to the people of this world? Why are they going for the expensive Internet when I am always available for them at a cheaper cost? Okay, leave about the price, the Internet still doesn’t have the meanings of a few special words which I have in me. Why do people want to throw away something that holds the synonyms of one million words?’ Dictionary thought painfully.

‘That’s because meanings of every word is easily available at the click of a button. But people have to flip your pages, search through the entire list of words and then find the word that they are looking for. It’s a strenuous process in today’s rapid world. People have adapted to changes that take place around them. Are they still using grinding stone for grinding flour? They have begun using the grinder. Your case is also just like that,’ said the Fiction book.

A single drop of tear flew from the eyes of the Dictionary. There was none to comfort it with soothing words. Worse, it felt suicidal. It thought to erase away itself from the world, so that it would become a word in itself in the Internet. Just then, a 16 year old girl rushed towards the Dictionary and picked it up fiercely.

‘Aarrrgghhh! What the hell is the meaning of the word ‘Deliciate’? Why doesn’t the Internet provide me with the exact definition and a few examples? I never thought that I would take this dictionary and use it. I am completely wasting my time….’

She stopped short. The word ‘Deliciate’ was shining at her from the Dictionary. And what more, there were lots of examples given in it. For a few moments, the girl immersed herself in the Dictionary. Not only she looked up meaning and examples for ‘Deliciate’, but also for other obsolete words.

‘Oh, my God! These words need re-introduction in the world. They are soooo beautiful. How come I missed using this dictionary for the past six years? I remember that I used it a lot when I was around eight years old. What happened to me after that? Was it because of the invention of Internet? Yes, I agree that the new technology is far better than using this book. But this is a gem. Dictionary was the one which introduced people to a plethora of words. How can people forget the way they traveled?’

As the girl spoke those words, a ray of hope bubbled in the heart of the Dictionary. After years of disappointment, it felt contented in listening to the girl’s words.

Years passed away. The girl became a Lexicographer ( a person who writes, compiles and edits dictionaries). She even started a movement named ‘The Dictionary Movement’ which gained worldwide recognition. As a result of the movement, the sales of dictionaries rose up. Once again, there was demand for the Dictionary, even though people had Internet with them. They realized that the Dictionary was the one which nurtured and nourished them with the vocabulary that they use everyday. They learnt a lesson that they must not leave something to perish that played a major role in their life.

Finally, the Dictionary survived. Though it had lost its notability to the Internet, it still survived as a substitute for the latter or in times of emergency.”

“And, I am the girl who saved the Dictionary from committing suicide. I was the one who restored its lost fame in the world,” said Anne Parker to her 8 year old daughter.

“Will you buy me the new edition of Oxford Dictionary, mom?” asked the child innocently.

“Why? You have my smartphone, right?”

“I am allergic to Internet, mom. It was the villain in the story. I want the kind-hearted Dictionary to be with me.”

Anne Parker’s lips curved into a satisfied smile. She learnt that the Dictionary had finally met its intended success.

**********

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