‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…’

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‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value…’

People come in and out of the shop. But sometimes I am preoccupied and do not fully notice them, at least only as shadows…of specific height and hardly any sound. I am happy for them to drift and wander for as long as they need.

But one young woman, barefoot and strong and purposeful, brought her stack of books immediately to the counter with her packet of cigarettes balanced on the top.

This young woman had Dante, Graham Greene, Andre Gide, Hemmingway and Huxley, Orwell and Zola. She said she was glad I had Zola and that once she had an argument with somebody about Gide. She didn’t say any more than that about it. I tell her it is good to see people reading the classics.

She called back loudly as she left that the books were beautifully displayed here and I wondered what she meant, if they were neat and tidy or in categories that are easy to follow or if she liked the front display where all the books this week are green. I wondered why she was reading those books that she chose and how she came to choose them anyway. I wondered what was going on in her life, especially when she had told me that she was waiting for her belongings to arrive from Darwin and she didn’t want to be alone until then.

Leon dropped in; it has been ages since I have seen him. He came in and said: it is ages since I have seen you. I know that he has not been well. He asked me if I have been well, and when I told him that I am fine he says: ‘Honestly, Kerry?’ and made himself laugh.

He looks at a selection of books on the counter, penguin classics, and asks me who would read those…with the print so small. I ask him if he likes the displays of books in the shop and he answers that he doesn’t care about them because the shunt in his head is giving him chronic headaches. He can’t even read his vampire books. And it is hard to walk. But he can still make good jokes as I should know. I told him it is good to see him again.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.  C. S. Lewis

 

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