200,000 Books

“200 thousand books,” Sarah told me with lots of pride.

I wasn’t with her at all, mentally, when she said this blasphemous hypocrisy. My eyes were fixed on the librarian.

But let’s rewind a little bit.

On a random day, like all unlabeled, unnamed days when you are on holiday, Sarah and I happened to go to a local and small public library. We had earlier decided that day it would be a Day of Profound Enlightenment and there would be no better way to spend it than lounging around with an elite class of kids engaged in exhaustive reading of obsolete books ranging from pictorial to printed atrocities – the kind where the paper is so thin and the ink so thick that the sentences simply merge into a blob of blackness – and bask in the light of the enormous invisible bulbs that floated above our heads as we discovered new words and concepts that were not in the least bit pronounceable or imaginable.

I forgot the library’s name, but I am sure it contained the word Astoria, along with the district name and/or a president’s name, then generically ending with the words Public Library as a beacon to attract the underprivileged for free reading.

To be honest though, the library was of formidable size. Either that or I was unfathomably small, the only thing possibly smaller than me were Sarah the Midget and chairs specifically designed for hobbits. There were rows and rows of books, which, I think, were arranged by the color of the cover, starting oddly from yellow and ending in white and then black. Sarah explained to me that the prestigious books are always colored in maroon, black or white, and that as the colors became more vibrant, the easier they became to read and the shade of the color represented the age group – the more fluorescent the shade of color was, the more it was catered to toddlers.

Strangely, though, toddlers’ books were almost exclusively adorned with a white cover. I thought that they were indeed prestigious, for no human being other than toddlers can understand a book that contained as many words as there are pages in that book. They probably have an imagination so vivid and alien that they would effortlessly translate these unrelated words into an epic science fiction saga involving bears, chairs and other ornaments not exceeding 5 sides.

We went to the mildly colored section.

I grabbed a navy blue book, whose title contained the word Amusement Park and I just assumed it would be one of those Senior High books that everyone at school read about passionate love, break ups, menstrual cycles and occasional mishaps in locker rooms. As I opened the book, to my surprise, sprouted a large display of well arranged cartons that brought the said amusement park to life, in 3D form. The thickness of the book has finally been attributed. I shoved it back and followed Sarah around. She obviously knew what she was doing.

“I want to get a book on colonial Spain,” she said. I knew what Spain meant. I thought the first word was related to a certain person or some strange UFO sighting. “So how many books have you read till now?”

I was struck with this question. I knew Sarah was a prodigy. She started reading menus in restaurants when she was still a toddler. Her first word consisted of 18 syllables in some foreign language that sounded like Latin. Everyone in the family had been forever praising her extreme intelligence and fluency in English as well as unremarkable knowledge of Arabic obscenities. I simply could not compete with her. She would make me her laughingstock and the butt of all her jokes for generations to come.

“I don’t know,” I said, of course, as always. I never seemed to know anything, and it never contributed to my self-image. “How much did you read?”

It was then, at that very moment, that the most horrendous of all living creatures appeared before us. She was a mix of many different animals, none of which were human. She was unusually large, like a giant hippo or a small blue whale, with legs of course. Her breasts were so voluptuous they had their own gravitational pull, which clumped them together into multi layered blobs of blubber and undrunk milk enough to feed 10 generations of kids at an orphanage. Her body mass could only be seen in its entirety if she were in the far horizon or if you had eyes that can view in 180 degrees, and, even then, you would require a fish-eye effect in order to contain her within your frame of sight without having your eyes to skew sideways for a clearer view. I could only assume that she was born in this library and raised here, for there was no possible way out she could fit in any door. Her head looked like a piece of dragon, complete with scaly eyes, and for unexplained reasons she almost sprouted horns from her temples.

If I still had that book with the amusement park, I would be able to identify most of the animals in it to be presented in one form or another in this monstrosity.

“200 thousand books,” Sarah told me with lots of pride.

I wasn’t with her at all, mentally, when she said this blasphemous hypocrisy. My eyes were fixed on the librarian.

Sarah looked at me looking at the woman. From my height and the woman’s unusually large breasts, my line of sight landed on only two options.

“Kinan, Jesus Christ you are DISGUSTING. Oh My God she is a LIBRARIAN for the love of shit GET A LIFE!!!” she accused me, and ordering me to get a life in as many days as tripled of what I stayed in NY.

“I wasn’t looking WILLINGLY she occupied my WHOLE view!” I defended.

“Unbelievable. Every time I attempt to have a normal conversation with you, you end up being stupid. You never read any books did you?”

I couldn’t answer. Gravity was too intense.

We never returned there again.