I am lucky to be one of those bookmarks that are not attached to the book with a thread. This way I can travel to other books and see more than I’d be able to otherwise. I am not made of silk, but I wholeheartedly embrace the trade-off. Occasionally I worry that I might slip out and lose my way, bringing misfortune to myself and my reader. Once it came very close to that, and all through my fault. I shall tell you about it.
I was lying comfortably between two pages of a hardback English translation of Dante’s Paradiso – I remember all the places I’ve been to, it’s an especial gift -, enjoying one of those luminous visions that I could hardly find in any of my other travels, when all of a sudden, I felt like falling. At first, I wasn’t sure it was the experience of those marvellous verses or the fact that I was actually slipping through the coated fine paper-like silk through soapstone, with most of my body hanging by the fore-edge. A feeling of utter despair seized my fibres. What would happen to me if I fell out? I did not find myself in a cosy study, but in one of those contemptible, beastly boxes they call underground trains, ripping the bowels of the earth in search of speed and convenience. My reader was standing, and not comfortably. He was holding the book with one hand and the rail with the other, while as for me, I was in the grips of gravity and side-pulls, headed to the underworld. My thin body was made more featherweight still due to the fact that my reader hadn’t finished the verso of the second page holding me in place. I was praying for a quick read. The turning of a new leaf, I thought, would add ballast to my sanctuary and my drop would be forestalled. That is what eventually happened, but not before I saw my whole life browsed before my eyes. I saw softcovers and ripped pages, and wooden cabinets, and illegible annotations, and coffee stains, and hair, and so much more, that I was so sure my time was up. The page turned, however, and I found myself out of danger. The beastly box rattled on as I went back to those beautiful verses, cocooned, as I usually am, in silky paper.