The best little library

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IN 2009, when I was in 6th grade, I noticed one of my classmates reading a book during the school’s break time. Reading a book is OK, but not when I had placed it inside my bag and no one knew about it until I saw my friend reading it! The book was one I had borrowed from the library. I said to him: “Hey, that book was in my bag. How did you find out about it?” 

     “During class you spilled your bag’s contents searching for something and I saw it. You know that it is hard to find books like this,” he answered.

     He was right. At that time, Kabul had few bookstores or libraries. Now even in Dasht-e-Barchi, west of Kabul, after a bit of a walk you will see plenty of them. But in 2009, I knew of only three libraries in my residence area: the school’s library, a library near my home, and another one in the middle of Dasht-e-Barchi. 

     I asked some of my classmates whether they had books in their homes or not. Most of them announced a number between two and ten. I asked them to bring them all to school and then I distributed them to our classmates. 

     One of my classmates came up with the idea of building a library when we had gathered 184 books. That sounded weird because we all imagined a library as a big building with thousands of books and shelves and membership payment. But we had to find a way to organize the books we had, so we had to set up a library.

     After that, most of the students stayed in class during our break; no sport plays, no breather. Instead, they formed a waiting line across the corner of the room. The stir of sports from outside came to the inside of the class and changed to a tumult for books: “Hey, don’t take that one! I want to read it!”  Or there was often this remark: “Extend this book. I want to reread it!”  This second remark was always heard from those who borrowed Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days or Journey to the Center of the Earth. Also, my classmates would always fight over the abridged version of Wuthering Heights. One of our teachers lobbied for us to let us borrow the abridged versions of the world’s classic novels from the school’s library.

     I remember that Daddy long legs was a book I read with enthusiasm. And the book, Joddy’s letters, was the best thing I had ever read. I read the book four years ago again.

     I still have the record notebook of that little library. Even now, when I open that notebook, I can hear the blare of little book lovers who lined up across the corner of class 6B, at the margins of Kabul city, where there were only three libraries . . . plus the best little library.

                                                                                                         — Great Afghan Book Lover

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us: