Like any other criminal, I am entitled to a defence, after all.
So before I confess, let me say this in my defence:
It’s not that I plan to steal books.
It’s not even that I mean to.
But, somehow, I steal books.
I have been an obsessive reader since early childhood and it continued throughout my life.
I read everything.
One summer when the school library was closed and I had run out of things to read, I even read the Bible.
Someone must have dared me. And, being very smart, I didn’t realize that some bets shouldn’t be taken.
You have no idea what it cost me. Two years before, I’d decided that I was an atheist.
The kind that half-believes in God at night, in the middle of a furious storm.
But an atheist nonetheless.
I had hardly begun, when I got to the begats. They nearly did me in. Jacob and his wives begat dozens of children who begat dozens more children and when I woke up the next morning, they were still begetting.
Reading the begats was cruel and unusual punishment and I had no-one to blame but myself.
I imagined that God was having a great laugh.
If I believed in her, that is.
But I digress.
I first stole a book when I was about ten years old. It was probably a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery.
I gave it back when I finished reading and I never stole another book till I found myself at a silent convent some years ago.
“You stole from the nuns?” I hear you asking.
Yes. I stole two books from the nuns, but I did not chop down their cherry tree.
I returned the books a whole year later. And they forgave me, smiling at my extreme penitence.
But I stole a few magazines before then. From airplanes or airport VIP lounges.
Stole them and brought them home because of a great story I wanted to finish reading.
I must have felt really bad about it, because I kept stealing them.
Three in all.
Till one day my eyes caught a small sign on the cover of one magazine, making it clear that the magazines were free to customers. All three magazines had the same sign.
I know God was having a great laugh.
I’m told he’s funny that way.