Sarith was at the Book Fair in Colombo on Wednesday. How did it happen? He had to meet the dentist and he had excused himself from school on that day. After meeting his dentist which took about one and a half hours, his mom dropped him off at the book fair.  He had money for [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

A Staircase of Books


Sarith was at the Book Fair in Colombo on Wednesday. How did it happen? He had to meet the dentist and he had excused himself from school on that day. After meeting his dentist which took about one and a half hours, his mom dropped him off at the book fair. 

He had money for books and snacks and his mom would meet him on the grounds in the evening.  Sarith was as happy as a lark and visited many stalls and browsed through many books. Then he bought himself a hamburger and while eating walked the grounds. That’s how he came across a large tent at one end of the grounds.

Looking inside he found that it was full of books on book shelves, in boxes and many piles of books on the ground too. “My kind of place,” thought Sarith and went in. He found many books he liked. There were crowds among the stalls of books on the grounds and inside the buildings but only a few people inside this tent. There were a few benches at the back under some lights. Sarith brought a bundle of books and placed them on a bench and went around gathering much more and brought them along too. He sat on the bench and took book after book to browse through and put aside a couple of them. Then he spied a large book suspended in the air behind a very tall book shelf. He went to see what it was. 

Whew! What do you think? It was a staircase of books. He touched the lower step book and it felt like wood. Without much ado, he climbed the staircase of books which felt solid and he went up and up. Then he came to a tree, dense with leaves and the steps went through it and there was a door. He opened it and went through. He found himself in a room that looked like a barn of an attic of a large old mansion.

Sarith looked, rubbed his eyes and looked again. The high roof had sun windows and sunlight streamed through to make the room well lit. It was a library. Books, books everywhere, books on many rows of shelves in tall book racks and books on top of each other in rows on the ground too. In the middle of the room were tables with more books, cupboards too with glass doors full of books. “Amazing,” thought Sarith. One room extended to another and another. Sarith ran from shelf to shelf reading a few titles of the books.

There were travel books, novels, biographies and history books, maps and geography books too. More so, there were books on magic, books on religions of the world, books about ghosts and spirits. A little after, he found a section of books on adventure and tarried awhile there. Next, he wanted to explore this place and went from room to room. In the far room he found an old sage with a long beard writing on a tall desk sitting on a tall chair with steps. 
“Is this Scrooge?” thought Sarith to himself.

Sarith went up to the desk and said, “Sir, are you the owner of this place?” “Yes, who are you?” “I’m Sarith. I am a Grade 5 student and I am visiting the book fair.” “Hello Sarith. Now that you are here, I wonder if you could help me.” “Of course, Sir, what can I do?” 

“I need a Daniel Defoe book.”
“Is it Robinson Crusoe?” “Good, you know his books. The book I need is titled ‘The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.’ Could you please find it for me?”

Sarith thought of the thousands of books in the rooms in dismay. “Could you give me a clue where to start, Sir.” “The 2nd room has books on adventure and travels. Try there.” “Ok Sir.”
Sarith ran to the
2nd room and saw adventure books of jungle trips and mountain climbing.
He scratched his head.

He went through the titles of many books in many shelves in many, many rows. Then he spied sea travel and adventure books and came across Daniel Defoe books. There were different versions of Robinson Crusoe books. He searched the section. Across the book shelves, piles of books on the ground and again he went through all the titles of the books near the Defoe books. 

No, the book he wanted was not there. Then while adjusting a few books on the same shelf his hand knocked over some books and they fell to the ground with loud thuds. As he turned to climb down the ladder to get the fallen books, he saw some books in the gap far back and leaning against the back of the shelf. These were hidden by the row of books in front. He pulled them out and there was the book he wanted. “Eureka!” Sarith shouted. It was the Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. He jumped from the ladder and ran with the book to the sage.

The sage lifted his glassed, looked at Sarith. His eyes twinkled. “Thank you. You are a perceptive young man,” he said. He opened a drawer and pulled out some tickets. “Here are two book vouchers for you. You deserve them. Now run along.” 
“Thanks,” muttered Sarith and ran all the way back. He soon reached the tent, the benches and pile of books he had kept were untouched. He picked a couple of books and looked at the vouchers.

They were vouchers for Rs. 5000 each. He whistled and thought what a grand time was ahead of him. He hurried to pay for the books he had selected in the tent. Then he visited the many stalls to choose more books. “Yippee, yip, yip,” he shouted once more and thought what a time he would have now and what a tale to tell his mom.

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