This is how you will know you like books. On a cold Thursday morning, when the birds are somewhere shivering and you can’t see past ten feets before you – thanks to the mist – you will set out with N5000 to buy a pair of shoes for N4000 and keep the remaining N1000 for miscellaneous. On your way, the devil will appear dressed in paper. You will stumble upon this bookseller and see classic novels displayed right before you. The economist in you tells you to simply take a bow and walk away. ‘You don’t have cash,’ he says. The reader inside you grunts. ‘You can use the remaining N1000 for books.’ You see some sense in that and before you can say Merci to the reader in you, the economist screams. ‘That wasn’t the plan!’ You scream back, ‘To hell with the plan!’ You bend down and pick up two novels, N500 each and walk away to get your shoe. As you walk on, you feel light, like something had left your body. Of course you are not Jesus so you are not thinking a virtue or something has left you to some invisible woman with an issue of blood. You look around and see the economist in you standing some meters away from you, arms folded, frowning. ‘Come on, buddy!’ You call. He shakes his head and say, ‘It is over between us,’ and then he walks out of your life. Forever.
This is how you know you love books. You are out with N5000 to buy shoes and then you stumble upon this treasure island. Book! Books beyond count! Classic books! You bend down and start asking for the prices. The man replies happily and before you can say Book, you have sacrificed N5000 on the altar of books and now, you are walking home with N5000 worth of books in your bag and no single pair of shoe. ‘But wait, where is the economist in me?’ You wonder. Then you hear a mocking laugh behind you. There, wearing a red tracksuit is your economist. ‘I left you two years ago, remember. Two years ago when you spent your last dime on books and allowed us all to beg for food till the end of the month. I’m gone, Master. And I ain’t coming back!’ He smirks and walks away, feeling proud. You shake your head. You pity your economist. You pity yourself. Most of all, you pity your bank account.
This is his you know you are an art collector.
Your pockets are empty. You survived the last week with the help of a friend who borrowed you some thousands. Now that you have some cash, you know you also have debt to settle. It is with this heavy heart that you walk down to the Student Union Building of your school. And then you see books displayed on a carpet on the floor. They are very rare classic books. And thing is, you have never seen any of them before save for the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. Your eyes begin to weep and you know within yourself that you will buy these books. In thirty minutes, you have picked up four books. ‘I don’t have cash now,’ you begin. ‘But I’ll rush down to the ATM and get some cash. Please, for the love of books, don’t sell these books.’ The man nods and flashes a smile. You race down to the ATM and return in a minute with N5000 and place them before the altar of books. The god of books smiles down at you and gives you his blessings. But that is not the end.
On your way home, you see this beautiful booklover who challenged you last semester when she told you how many books she has read. You get talking and she told you she brought some books for you. You open your mouth in awe as she brings out Toni Morrison’s Beloved. You can’t believe it. You collect three books and add them to the four you have in your bag already. Only God knows when you will read them. You show her the new books you just bought. She confesses that she has an assignment and has to work on her project. But then she ends on borrowing one. Assignments and projects will have to wait. You don’t know what to say! Now you know the economist in you was right when he said the road to hell and bankruptcy is paved with books. You watch helplessly as you lead yourself and a fellow bibliophagist to the jaws of debt. May the Lord have mercy on your souls.
PS. 1. I am a collector.
PS. 2. Writing is Telepathy?? Let’s talk about that later. Share your thoughts on this.