(4) The Library Holds More (Than Books)

(photo by Lee Ka-sing)

 

(4) The Library Holds More (Than Books)

The third floor library has one long and narrow window. On a sunny day, like today, Mrs. Bento is delighted to see a bank of definite light pours in, brightening up the otherwise dimly lit room. The slightly rectangular room is maximized for storage space, shelves were custom made from floor to ceiling covering most of the walls, and they are not completely filled with books. A few framed photographs, watercolour drawings are hung intuitively in front of the shelves, jumping from one point to another intervening the book space. Mrs. Bento notices some stacks were designed with the height in mind for storing music cds and movie dvds. Accidentally, she bumps into one of her favourite movies there - In the Mood For Love. She thinks, if she has time, she might find even more movies she likes from the lot. In between the books are occasional breathing spaces, where tiny, casual art pieces and small objects can be found. Say here, against a colour pencil sketch of a cumulus cloud sky appears a four-inch stuffed penguin. Its back is made with orange-base fabric, on which printed different camera patterns in white outlines. The white belly is scattered with little orange dots. The eyes are two small black beads staring at you in silent curiosity. Mrs. Bento couldn't help but hold it up with her left hand, gently squeezes its pointed nose with her right thumb and index finger.

Fun.

And the adventure carries on. There are one two three four, four five-inch candles in Madonna's form, two red and two black. For some reason the red ones have part of the head burned. There is a black marble pyramid paper weight, the white, orange stripes and patterns really dispatch cosmic energy, so imagines Mrs. Bento. Here, in this hollow, wall-papered by an abstract small painting, stands a bronze sculpture of two figures entwined in an inseparable standing and sitting position. In another cavity she locates, perhaps the skull of a beaver? Also a fish fossil and a tooth of some sort. She turns around and her eyes meet a pair of small clay bird and dog, the red and black colours are tarnished, and the surface blemishes make them feel like objects of great antiquity: like two Guardians before some emperor's tomb. Nearby a black and white paper mache cat looks so animated that it seems walking and meowing at the same time.

Hmm, besides books and diaries there is more to discover.

A couple of shelves extending to the corner near the door have two stacks of vertical plastic postcard albums, each holding up to 90 pockets, 180 postcards front and back. They are all stuffed with postcards, most of them labeled on the spines: Master Paintings, Design, Europe/Sinjiang/NY Written PC, China and Old Postcards, Berlin/Ams., Japan/Korea, Poland/Prague/Budapest, French/Italian, New York, Postcards Written, MISC.

"Who will need postcards these days?" murmurs Mrs. Bento, "Postcards belong only to the nostalgic and romantic!" Just as she wrestles with the idea of opening up one postcard album labeled "Postcards Written", the door bell rings.

"It must be the Amazon guy", she closes the door quickly and hurries downstairs, hoping the delivery person still there after she's descended all three floors of thirty four steps.