What do you do with books? Read them. Shelve them. Give them out. And what do you do when you’ve exhausted these options still your house is littered with sacks of decades-old good books that you don’t want to part with? Do you reluctantly pack them together, wet them with kerosene and keep a good distance while you set the scrap ablaze – especially on an environmental Saturday? Yes. That’ what I do, and unapologetically so. Is this strange, am I alone here? Well then, If you are not fine with this attitude of mine, please suggest to me what I should do with my “Onibon oje” Yoruba text book that I used in primary 2 but is no longer recommended and many other extinct ones. Before you give your suggestion though, endeavor to read this experience of mine.
This piece is motivated by my recent experience on a journey from Lagos to Akure – to attend a wedding – on a funky Friday. It was the popular Ojota park and as usual, hawkers trooped in, eagerly marketing their goods. There were plenty of stuffs sellers brought – one could exhaust one’s fair if not restrictive. I was exasperated by a wristwatch seller who wouldn’t just leave my side as I was sitting by the door; he threw at my face various shapes and sizes of wrist watches that were obviously sham but carefully platted in gold shade. Usually, I would nod to notify my response but I wanted to be a bit respectful that day– after all, hawkers are humans – so politely, I told him I wasn’t interested as I put on a gentle smile. That was the greatest mistake I made; he must have taken my smile for consent so he wouldn’t leave me alone. Meanwhile, I wasn’t ready to waste my money. When out of either disappointment or frustration or both, he pointed to my wrist watch that had stopped working, he got me burning with anger but the passenger sitting in front of me yelled at him before I could say anything I would regret. (Thanks to the pretty slim young lady).
OH, I have successfully crossed the lane of my discussion, I’m so sorry. Now back to my book issue.
So few minutes later, another hawker came with loads of books; I immediately spotted Americana, Why You Act the Way You Do, and Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You among many others. I quickly turned away to avoid any drama this time. So next, I heard the young book hawker say “pay 1200 last”. The young lady that helped me scare the wrist watch seller away hissed and turned her head down, discouraged by the exorbitant price tag. The young boy selling the book stood for a while, then he brought the price down by himself even down to N400, but the lady didn’t even respond; I noticed she had become very busy with her android phone, ignoring the boy. When eventually the boy moved toward other passengers, the lady faced me and said “something wey I go download now now”, followed by another pidgin word I cannot vividly recall now. I felt obliged to say something (one good turn deserves another), so I said – in my pidgin with too much Yoruba flavor – “before nko, who go trowey money dash blind man wey dey cross road without stick?” In two minutes, guess what she did? She turned to me, pushing her phone toward me for me to see and said “I don download am now now”. I wasn’t surprised that she had downloaded the Why do men marry bitches book but the speed at which she had achieved that had baffled me.
When i got home that day, despite the stress of the journey – terrible roads- I downloaded 10 good favourite books; I’ve had them in print copy for years now. So when it was morning, i took those hard copies all into a sack in the corner most part of my store. In a few months’ time –preferably on an environmental Saturday- I will be moving them out to the backyard with the other oldies where a drop of kerosene and a click of matches will save me the long borne burden. Of course, I know the print media dare not survive my generation, I don’t know about yours.
image from http://www.theguardian.com