Tomes of My Fathers

Let’s see… It’s already been two months and three days since I’ve become a roomer in a boxlike 6 meter square cave near the Shoe Factory. And I am still unhappy as a bee taken off her Prozac prescription.

And this unhappiness is brought to you by the constant yo-yoing of oil prices and the all-time-high inflation in the market. I’m not blaming the president though. She has so much on her plate already. If I were running a nation where the average woman’s head scrapes the 5-foot measure, I would surely have serious self-esteem issues. But that’s my personal politics, and I beg you to ignore that. 

There is no relief from this escalating madness, and we might as well chomp on the bit for a little longer. I have a new mantra now: “For all things, give thanks.” Hmmm. It keeps me sane with all that’s been happening. But I’m willing to bet that my blood pressure’s escalated again, keeping up with the trend.

Still we say, as cliche as it may sound, that life goes on.

Well, I was home in the Tropical Jungle over the weekend and whiled the 36-hour reprieve from the boiler-room heat of the cave in the lowlands by coercing my old buddy, the washing machine, to spin and soak/soak and spin my laundry while I watched a pirated copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D and, at the same time, tied old books in bundles.

About those books… my family had those old and musty tomes as far as I could remember. Most bear the mark of the passing years: yellowed pages, insect-nibbled edges, termite-gutted bibliography and index sections (my mother would raise hell when she finds out), waterstains, coffee stains, ketchup stains, scribbles on the margins, highlighted sections, squashed bugs between pages… They’ve encroached all available space in my cottage. Some are languishing in our makeshift library where they get to be the accommodating beds to several generations of woodland mice. I’ve stacked paperbacks and hardbound first editions in every possible nook and cranny; some have begun falling on unsuspecting souls’ heads when things get dull in the house.

But I just can’t throw them away. Would you do that to your 70-year-old grand aunt who taught you to read, to bake cookies and to douche? Okay, I don’t douche. But the point is, would you throw things out if they helped shape how you look at the world? So I endure and put up with the mustiness; every once in a while, I get a fit of the cleaning bug, and I spend a day bundling stacks of these well-loved warped bound sheaves for a reshuffle of their storage places. An aside: I learned the Greek alphabet through my great grandfather’s lexicon, and I could read some words in the language if you’re willing to bet. Sometimes, for nostalgia, I pull out our tattered copy of The Church of Our Fathers, a really ancient book that may already be out of print — one of my mother and father’s textbooks in the seminary — and look at the the woodcut illustrations of how the Christian church was founded. Those pictures scare me. Image montage: blood, gristle, violence, the burning times, the Inquisition, pregnant popes, homicidal landgrabbing bishops… but it’s just my paranoia so I ask you to ignore that. Just please don’t conclude that my childhood was one unhappy mess. It wasn’t… partly.

This weekend, I stashed some editions under the stairs, away from the leaking roof. Some found a new home beside the clothes shelf. At least, there are no termites this time of the year to get at them.

When my 36 hours in the mountains were up, I rode down to the cave with my clean clothes crammed into a bag, far far lonelier but not yet beaten.

I have a backup plan:

You know, when I win the Aegean Lottery, part of my winnings will be used to rehabilitate all those books in a humidity-controlled chamber, complete with a restoration area and carbon-dioxide-minimizing technology. And it shall be housed in a chrome and steel edifice that I shall call bibliotek.

Here’s to making our dreams into realities.

 

[image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk]

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