Lug­ging books as a way of life

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION - NOELLE AN­GELIE TAN

We didn’t have much in the form of home com­forts other than a re­claimed sofa and a would-do TV. All of the sup­posed bud­get for such was in­vested else­where. I was then study­ing at a nearby pri­vate school. My school­bag was heavy with books; I think there never was a time in my life, es­pe­cially in child­hood, when my bag was light—it was al­ways heavy. Dur­ing the seem­ingly long walk from our house to the main road where my mom and I would catch a jeep­ney, I would al­ways com­plain and wish I could just tele­port my bag to school so that I would never have to carry it. There was even one time I al­most for­got to bring my school­bag, and all the while I still had a towel wrapped around my hair on the way to school!

My books were heavy and ex­pen­sive. If I had to do the math, all my books from preschool up un­til grade school alone could buy me and my fam­ily a cou­ple of lux­ury beds so we wouldn’t have to set­tle for hard ones—even the floor.

But no one, not even my fru­gal-out-of-ne­ces­sity par­ents, ques­tioned or com­plained about the book prices. They knew their in­vest­ment in their chil­dren’s fu­ture.

The house would al­ways have more books than the time to read them, since ev­ery­one was busy. But on week­ends, I would al­ways see my fa­ther sit­ting un­der our mango tree and read­ing one of his ac­tion-packed thrillers from Tom Clancy, John Gr­isham, David Bal­dacci and the like.

My mom’s slightly dif­fer­ent as she’s a night owl. I would al­ways catch her in the mid­dle of the night study­ing for her M.A., then her Ph.D., then Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion, or mark­ing pa­pers. If not, a cou­ple of books left open and a note­book freshly inked would keep her oc­cu­pied for most nights, in-be­tween coach­ing my sis­ter and I for speak­ing com­pe­ti­tions, which we all won dur­ing our grade school years.

I thought I would come to hate the heavy books that plagued my child­hood. But on the con­trary, I think they have be­come a vi­tal part of mylife. Even now that I am­liv­ing and work­ing over­seas as an ESL (English as a Se­cond Lan­guage) teacher, I have a shelf full of books; some I have read, a few I have scanned, and a few oth­ers I have yet to read. And I can’t wait to find and read more.

———— Noelle An­gelie Tan, 27, was born and raised in Ca­gayan de Oro City, Philip­pines. She is liv­ing and work­ing as an ESL teacher in Quang Ngai City, Viet­nam.

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