(2) The Third Floor Library

(photo by Lee Ka-sing)


(2) The Third Floor Library

Mrs. Bento has a key to a special room on the third floor. It is a small library lined not only with books, but personal archive and memorabilia. Violet, the lady from whom she bought this building two years ago, added a condition in the contract that the 'third floor library' must be kept in its original state until further notice of change. At the same time, Mrs. Bento also has to agree to keep it in good order. In the first year and half, the Bento family was too busy renovating the three storey house, converting the entire second floor to run a bed and breakfast business. All that work has taken up a great chunk of time, and Mrs. Bento rarely stay long in the library except for a quick clean up. Now the building is in much better shape and running on routine, she can do some house keeping for the library at least once a week. Though the room is almost an 'open secret' to her, she has become increasing curious in what personally history it is withholding. And why the seller of the house insisted to maintain it in pristine condition.

One fine Tuesday as she was dusting off the shelves in the library, she spotted a number of diaries. Pulling one out randomly she leafed through it, stopped at a page with a blue adhesive page marker, hesitated for a moment, but could not resist to read what was written on.

"Impossible memories. I was 21 in 1974, following Joni's footsteps. I understood a little but later on everything became blank. I almost forgot about those days. No wonder it feels so familiar - her songs at that time were also part of my life. The special feature of Joni Mitchell in the Students' Weekly did save some of my memories.

Yes indeed, Joni is not necessary fair to everything. Sometimes I feel she gets confused, mixing present and past with ever more imagination. But who isn't? I am pretty sure I have such a phenomenon.

Looking back at what I wrote in that special feature, though my feelings were genuine, it seemed over-mature and acted big like I knew everything. To look at it now really like Joni's criticism on herself, having composed Both Sides Now and not getting the real taste of it. In response to her All Star Tribute in 2000, she returned to the stage to sing Both Sides Now. She got it. Some people in the orchestra understood, and cried. I must also pay respect to my younger self, and forgive."

Mrs. Bento was intrigued, she quickly closed the diary and gently caressed it. A tender feeling ran all over her. A black diary made of faux leather, embossed with four digits: two zero one zero.

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