Books: the Gift that Won’t Be?

Books: the Gift that Won’t Be?
Fecha de publicación: 
20 February 2022
Imagen principal: 

Going about my bookcase, I stumbled across copies that I’ve kept since childhood and there it was, perfectly lined, Platero and I a gift from the principal of that elementary school when I learned to read.

Leafing through it, was reliving those gone years, the childhood pride of having learned, "like adults," to decipher what those pages read. Even the color and texture of the wooden table returned where I left a mark with the sharpening knife and then I felt ashamed and guilty as if I had mutilated a Michelangelo sculpture.

No one can make my friend get rid of the books that her deceased mother gave her, because keeping them is also continuing to have a little piece of her, it’s feeling her embrace again every time she looks at them.

The same thing happens to me. I proudly guard the volumes of Jules Verne that I read in childhood, because, among other reasons, they make me evoke those Days of Kings.

I knew toys were not delivered by the Three Wise Men, but I was still excited to wake up and find the gifts my parents had lovingly distributed on the sofa. They were few, but there was no shortage of books.

And before going to see the new doll or any other toy, he would first unwrap the package of books and sink his nose into its pages to smell the printing ink, of the adventure yet to be discovered.

It’s very true that books have different prices now and today the priorities for Cubans are above all related to food, medicine...

But, even so, last epiphany I saw how plastic dinosaurs were sold out at a state facility in just hours. They cost 4 thousand pesos each because they were made of rope, they had flashy lights, and almost, for their price, they took you back to the Jurassic period.

I stared at them, watching how they practically snatched them from the shelves, and I thought how many books, even today, could be bought with 4 thousand pesos.

But it's not like that. I even think that children themselves value the dinosaur more than some books. Perhaps this present time, with its valuable and undoubtedly useful technologies, forgot to teach them that within those volumes they could stumble upon hundreds of dinosaurs and much more.

Therefore, even if they enjoy that toy that will last them, at most, a few months; Even if they get excited about video games and other screen-based variants, I feel sorry for them.

Because when they are grownups they will not have books to caress evoking the applause of the school where they were awarded that copy, because they will not stumble upon that page where the teardrop fell because of the protagonist being arrested, because they will not be able to evoke the kiss of the mother giving them the book, which will always be much more than printed paper.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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