Repair of an old book

This Saturday morning, after a long week at work, I woke up at five after going to bed at 6 the previous night thinking that I’d wake up two hours later so I could do some lifting at a nearby gym, only to be woken up by my alarm clock set at 5 this morning. After making coffee, I answered some emails, watched a Youtube debate on power between the then young Chomsky and the virtually ageless Foucault.

Then I saw sitting sadly on the corner of my table a mangled copy of Crime and Punishment. I took pity and held it like a mother holding his son’s wounded body in war. The previous sentence is an exaggeration.

Then an urge to repair took hold of me. Obsessively.

I bought this copy six years ago from a bookstore near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. The bookstore was on the second floor of a building whose ground floor was used by an old man selling birds. Along with titles in Vietnamese as well as books translated in the Vietnamese are Wordsworth Classics. I bought this book by Dostoevsky and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for 50,000.

Since then, the guilt-ridden Raskolnikov became one of my favorite literary characters.

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I stroked my copy like how I would stroke that cat our family had had when I was only 12, with care. I glued the spine together and scotch-taped the pages that needed scotch taping.

I do not have any emotional attachment to my books. I keep those I already read because I have hope that someday my younger brother or sister would pick them up, read them, and discover a universe that I inhabited while reading them.

Or, I keep them because someday, when I become tired of all the prerequisites of living, I shall escape from all these with my books that need repairing, a pair of scissors, a roll of scotch tape, and the ever reliable Elmer’s glue.

2 thoughts on “Repair of an old book”

  1. sorry for clogging your comments bar, but just wanted to say that i left a msg with mr karlo mongaya that i requested be passed on to you. if i can make it to sending an email, will resend it myself.
    if you haven’t watched this yet, you might want to, an interview with Wole Soyinka on his 80th bday “to reflect on his large body of work and the relationship between politics and culture, exploring how literature and the arts speak to the contemporary African experience” by the British Library channel at youtube:

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