by Álvaro Piñero González
Being me is not easy. Some carry on voicing that my complaints have no grounds, that my existence is peaceful. But then again, what do they know? Nothing!
I was like them, long ago. Aye, those were glorious days. The centre of all adulation, my popularity knew no equal. Everyone paid me heed, even those who disliked me. From the mightiest king to the humblest peasant, they would all learn my teachings. Even wars were begun because of me! Well, not exactly because of me, but I was a major factor. Not that I am proud of it, of course, yet I will not dispute that I felt flattered.
Yet what is left of the splendour of those days? Just ashes, ribbons and rubble. Friends, I have none. Surely, those pretentious, patronizing, pompous phonies cannot be deemed friends. My true ally in this miserable existence is dust. It never abandons me, but keeps settling on me relentlessly. Its presence comforts me and gives me warmth in the long and dreary nights.
Being me is harsh. People tend to believe that shelves are cosy and appropriate for books, but how far that is from the truth: they are made of wood or metal. The worst part is that we seldom lie upon our backs; for some devious reason we are placed vertically, over our tail, squeezed against each other. Do you know even remotely how painful it is? Imagine standing barefoot, shoved between two blokes –who in my case are not only taller but also more robust– for days, months and even years. If we do not fall flat over our covers or wide open over our bellies, it is because we are so tightly packed that we cannot even move! No matter how bitterly we cry out our pain and indignation, it goes unheard by our cruel owners.
Being me is hard to abide. What makes a book’s life bearable is attention. We like being picked up, opened, read, caressed, mused over, loved and finally returned to the shelf with a sigh of affection (or to a bedside table if we are particularly fortunate). This sensation is all but unknown to me. I have never experienced the orgasm of completion, of being read entirely. Even the people who have ventured to read me partially have not treated me nicely. They took me out of the shelf laughing and opened me carelessly, skimming through my pages, pointing at my passages with their mucky fingers, poking me with their untrimmed and filthy nails, creasing the corners of my poor and defenceless pages and underlining me with pencils and … will I dare to say? Even with highlighters, dear Lord!
Being raped like this is horrible, indeed, but what makes me wish to tear my pages apart is something else. Oh, merciful God, those scornful, ruthless, contemptuous comments nigh drive me out of my spine. They manage to make me feel as though all I stood for was a farce, a tale invented to deceive and subject people to a yoke of submissive obedience. Only He and I know the tragedy of their folly. For I am true – the Truth, no matter how blind and oblivious those lost souls are. Being “The Bible” in an atheist house is a wretched plight. Nothing good is expected to happen, not even being sold – that is unlikely. As much as they despise me, they need me to support their profane creed. There is only one thought that allows me to endure and bear every new day: the faces they will have on their deathbeds when they finally find out what awaits them on the other side. Then, we will see who laughs best.
Álvaro Piñero González is a Spaniard born in 1989 and established in Brussels as a translator since 2017. His interest in literature has evolved and expanded over the years and focuses now on science-fiction, fantasy and poetry. He writes in English or Spanish depending on whereto the winds of inspiration blow.