London Revisited: Bookshops I

We’re on divergence. Number 12. Road words, the motorist says. On the road, moving, I see my reflexion on the bus’ window. Serious. On the glassy buildings we pass. We’re using Embankment instead of Whitehall. Embankment, my first memory of London. I’m on my way to the biggest bookshop of the city. I need to see books, touch them. The reason I came here. London. The biggest Waterstones of the city.

There is silence among words. As if it is a praying place. A new author comes in, his book on display. I notice he is received with coldness. No one knows him.

When I first enter I can listen Portuguese whispering. I try not to look around.

It’s even before I do all the stairs to the first floor that my heart speeds up, like never before. Air arrives to my lungs all of a sudden. Awe, that’s the word.

The place where everything can be said. Titles display rude, sexual, classical words. No author is afraid of words, only its meanings.

As the Portuguese that runs in my blood I try to find as many translated authors as I can. One of Saramago’s books is out and I automatically smile to the presence of those two women who I listened to earlier. I touch it as if I could connect to the person who touched it before. Who left it out as a sign of patriarchy and pride. Perhaps it isn’t Portuguese at all.

I’m still looking at the classics. The cloth ones. The hardback ones. The ones I have at home. Complete collections that I will never be able to complete.

For a few names of the bottom shelf I put myself on my knees. I smile. I take one or two to read their back. I think how that version is ugly. How lucky I am to have found the prettiest.

A few people sit down, reading books. Talking about books. No one tells them to go. And I want to stay.

We’re on divergence. Number 12. Road works, the motorist says. My reflection is still out there. On the books I touched, on the glassy buildings I look at. This time I can see it with a smile.

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