Sunday, February 26, 2012

book sematary

way back in college days, i always bring one of my treasured paperbacks, walt whitman's leaves of grass.  ever since i stumbled upon one of his poems, he became one of my favorite poets.  his style was different, his message so mystical, so spiritual.  and so, i tried to save up so i can buy the leaves of grass. during every lull from school work, i just sat idly by and immersed myself in whitman's poetry.  on the empty spaces on each page i dutifully scribbled my notes, my impressions for the poems, things i learned from whitman. so, imagine my dismay when one day i found out it had dropped off from my back pocket during one of the jeepney rides. i lost my treasure.  i vowed that once i am able to land a job, i'd immediately buy another copy.

well, it's been years, and i never was able to fulfill this vow. until the other day. when suddenly, as i passed this book store, i had this irresistible urge to go in and browse.  this is a shop that sells only second hand books.  i sometimes refer to this store as the book sematary. well, to admit, i coined this word as a take off from one of stephen king's horror novels, pet sematary,  it should actually be cemetery but one of the child characters in the book had painted a sign for the pets' burial ground and misspelled the word. the increased popularity of e-books and the current fad of using handheld portable devices which can download and store these had somehow eroded many peoples' fancy for the printed books.  well, it's really not hard to understand why most people had gone electronic -- they can actually now carry every day with them almost their entire collection of books! they have their entire library right in the palms of their hands!  very convenient indeed!  thus, many people now, as soon as an e-book version becomes available, immediately acquire the e-book and dispose the printed one to the second-hand shops.  and so i say, this is how the printed ones get "buried" in the book sematary.

well, i'm still one of those old-fashioned bookworms.  still enamored with the paper version of books.  i love the feel of the book in my hands; the way i struggle to keep the page i am reading on while the wind teasingly blow the pages away; the manner by which i frantically reach for a pen or a pencil to draw lines below the texts that i found interesting, or to dog-ear the page if a pen or pencil is not available; i savor the time i spend annotating the book, using the vacant spaces on the pages, to write down my own thoughts, sometimes debating with the author on ideas i found contrary to mine; then, closing my eyes that got wearied of reading, i lie down in some quiet corner, propping my book as a pillow underneath my head. 

so, i entered the shop. and behold, right there across the shelf opposite me, i found whitman again. the leaves of grass.  this one's not so used. the cover's cut up though at the right corner. the pages are still crisp.  there were some dog-ears.  the book smells good.  it had not been buried for so long.  i inspected the pages. no torn pages. no writings on the vacant spaces of the pages. a complete book.  leaves of grass,  mine again for only 75 pesos.  i thanked the lady at the book sematary.  she and another lady were busy though.  i noticed they were getting ready to catalog a fresh batch of second-hand books that just got delivered. soon, they'd be "burying" these books in the shelves to be hopefully resurrected later by another old-fashioned bookworm
outside the store, i looked at the cover again. walt whitman, bearded, long, silver hair, cocked hat. they say he had attained cosmic consciousness, nirvana. that's why his poems are sweeping and panoramic and of a different melody.  i'll discover it again.

whoever you are holding me now in hand,
without one thing all will be useless,
i give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
i am not what you supposed, but far different.

                                                          ---- walt whitman


Bani Malhotra said...

Love the quoted lines... i haven't read walt whitman! :O =( thanks for introducing me to him..will look for it in my library soon...
and well i guess even i'm old fashioned bookworm...just love the fragrance of books and pages,nothing can replace that! =)
ps: just a suggestion, pls don't dog-ear the pages in future..use flags or book mark! :P

sito saguid said...

yes bani, you'll surely love walt whitman. and thanks for the reminder not to dog-ear the book pages. :)