Au milieu des livres

Mi life began much the same as it will surely end: buried in books. My grandfather’s study was wall‑to‑wall books; dusting them off was forbidden all but once a year, at the beginning of October. I had yet to know how to read, and yet I still revered those standing stones: upright or on an angle, squeezed tightly together on the library shelves like bricks in a pile or generously spaced out .............................., I felt like my family’s wealth depended on those books. They all looked alike, I frolicked around in a tiny little sanctuary, surrounded by massive ancient monuments that were as old as I am and that would surely be around the day I die, and whose permanence reassured me of a future as peaceful as my past. I would secretly touch them to honor my hands with their dust, which I did not truly understand, and every day I would attend ceremonies whose meaning also intrigued me: my grandfather, so clumsy a man that my grandmother would do his gloves up for him, handled such cultural objects with care equal to that of an officiating priest. A thousand times I saw him stand up half aware, walk around the table, cross the room in two strides, grab a volume without hesitating, without even looking at what he was choosing, leafing through it with a quick flick of his thumb and index finger while staring at his couch, then, just having sat back down, open the volume with one swift motion "at the right page"; this always made him crack up.