between the leaves…

when i was little, other than my granny’s lap, my favorite place in the whole world, was the library. in fact, the library was my baby-sitter. i would spend hours reading there after school, enthralled. i still remember those wooden benches, the long rows of books, the sun streaming through the windows in the children’s section and how i’d occasionally be allowed to wander into the adult side to choose my stepfather’s sci-fi tomes he liked to read.

i’d read at the library, then i’d take a book home with me and inevitably, i’d be back tomorrow for my next fix. books rocked my world. they took me on journeys i’d never have been able to make otherwise. they were my respite from a reality i wouldn’t wish on anyone. when i had a book infront of me, i was spell-bound. the leaves of books were and will always be for me a little sliver of heaven, each and every one.

so imagine how i felt yesterday, when i heard on the news  that of all things, the protesters in balfour had set a library alight. the thought of all those books, all those worlds going up in smoke, all those journeys which no one will now have the opportunity to take, really made me sick to my stomach. part of me is so angry at the ignorance. don’t these arsonists realize that books can feed you more than bread? but as i think that, i realize that my anger is possibly misdirected. maybe i should be angry at a government which besides not providing, is also not working at furthering education and changing attitudes. i don’t pretend to have any political analysis. i know that it’s not as simple as decrying people as arsonists. or maybe it is…

burning_book

all i know is that in the smoke rising from that library, in those pages curling in on themselves, in those worlds crumbling, are infinite possibilities and openings and realizations which now will never be experienced.

and that makes me really sad.

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in sight

may i state for the record, with as much eloquence as i can muster, that migraines suck ass?!

it seems that lately i’ve become prone to monthly cycles of what feels like attempts to poke my eye out from the inside. if you hadn’t guessed it, it’s not pleasant. though maybe it has something to do with my very crap, and very likely, worsening vision.

when i was growing up, the library was my baby-sitter. i would spend hours surrounded by row upon row of words; visas and passports to a wonderful escape from what happened when the lights went out at night. at the time, my library cards were probably my most prized possessions. i would finish at least one book while at the library and then devour the one i took home with me even before the library closed for the day. sometimes i would beg my mom to let me go back and get another one and she’d say,

“no, you’ve had your book for the day!”.

she’d send me to make the bed or do some mundane task and half an hour later she’d call to ask if i was done yet. invariably my reply would be,

“uhm, almost…” as i instead turned the page, eager for another paragraph, unable to release myself from the spell of the words creating other worlds right here under my gaze . to me, books are like a journey i embark on and once i’ve taken that first step, i’m unavailable till that journey ends at the very last word on the very last page.

no wonder i required glasses by the time i was 12. i remember a series called “petrocelli” which was showing here in south africa at the time. imagine my shock the first time i saw it after i got my glasses. the actor playing the lead had suddenly acquired an obvious scar under his eye which he’d never had before! made me wonder what else i’d been missing!

now i’m getting to that age where my arms are no longer long enough and my contact lenses no longer deal too well with my astigmatic take on the world. i’ve (gasp) acquired my very first set of (mumble) “readers” – which i now need when i read. yet i’m slowly watching the world fade again. i usually have my eyes checked on my annual trip back to l.a., but i went to india instead this past year, so that didn’t happen.

now nothing is ever entirely clear. at night lights refract and reflect and i feel a little like i’m in one of those video driving games. things shift. edges transmute. and no, it’s been a while since i indulged in any recreational self-medication, so it’s not that. maybe it has something to do with the fact that shortly after my return to south africa 4 years ago, while driving down the road, i had a chance encounter with a stray shot gun pellet. a statistic once more. said pellet, all these years later, is still lodged mere millimetres from my right eye. it’s left me with permanent damage to one quadrant of my retina and subsequently, impaired vision.

and as i’m writing this, i realize that the migraines i have now, started sometime shortly after.

hmn… i need some time to digest that realization.

riding shotgun

riding shotgun

so ok, that’s it folks! here ends today’s tour through my head.

here’s the last.

word.