By Alan D.D.
I was 13 years old, in a new city and a new school, when suddenly I found myself completely isolated. Not one of my classmates would speak to me. I had told the teachers that two guys were bullying me and one of them was then changed to another classroom. Now the victim was guilty of seeking peace. I would soon find myself escaping the nightmare by reading.
The librarians’ protégé
The day after, that guy had to change classrooms and before I even knew that had happened, I said hello to some of my mates. They stopped talking as soon as they heard me. No one even looked at me. I asked what had happened but no one said a thing. The entire group stayed silent, and I understood they were going to be like that for the rest of the year.
That year would have been the worst of all my school years if not for one thing: the librarian took me as her protégé. She spoke with me when I went to the library and she let me take out whichever book I wanted. I still miss her now, whenever I think of her, and I feel guilty that I don’t even know her name.
The story was similar when I returned to the city I grew up in and to my old school. When I was completely alone, I again found solace in the library. And the librarian there trusted me as much as the other had. She let me take out books she usually only gave to the teachers. Both women helped me feel valuable somehow.
With books, I’d be OK
After classes, I often had to walk half an hour home and there was a local bookstore on the way. I started skipping my breakfast and saving money so I could buy books and magazines. Those pages became my escape from bullying, depression, self-harming, bad grades, and from family problems and isolation.
I started to discover myself, to get to know me better. I learnt many things I wasn’t taught about at school. And, most importantly, I strengthened my armory against my personal issues. I thought everything would be OK as long there were more books waiting for me to use as an escape from the nightmare.
Now I read about three to seven books at the same time, just to keep my mind focused on something else. It’s to calm down my nerves and fill my mind with anything else but my worries. It’s tiresome now and then, and it’s not a perfect system, but it works better than any other. I’ll stick with it as long as I can.