I hear an adult’s voice saying, “I would like you to sign this book for my company?” I raise my head in surprise and wonder where has this adult come from? I recognize that he was one of the reporters, but I was sure he was right at the back and not in the cue with the children.
For an instant, with my pen raised in mid-air, I agonized whether to continue signing the girl’s book or sign the guy’s copy instead. But I made a decision, I put his book politely to one side and continued scribbling on the girls’s copy. The girl was so happy that I finished her’s first. She then scurried off towards her teacher who was yelling at the top of her voice to hurry up to the bus!
With a happy feeling, I took the reporter’s copy and started signing his book. Then, I hand him his copy while craning my neck towards the cue of children, but was dismayed to see them lagging at the bag because they were pushed aside by more adults, each holding a copy or two of my free books, which were supposed to be given out to the children. I thought I did a good thing by choosing the girl over the adult, still by signing the guy’s copy, I unleashed a herd who thought they had every right to bypass the little ones.
I signed in a daze while nodding passively at their congratulations and special signing requests - honestly I felt so awful. By the time the adults dispersed, there were no more copies left for the children. And it was more horrifying that I - not the book fair organizers - had to break the news to the children that there are no books left, sorry.
The second time was during the release of “Uncle Khalfan’s Sheep” by Al Salwa. This time, I even had a longer line waiting, which was quite flattering. Again, I started my usually signing, when suddenly, out of the corner of my I, I noticed someone lurking, waiting for the right opportunity to grab a book and get away with it. She approached stealthily, grabbed a book from the stack and started to leave.
Oh ho, I wasn’t going to let that happen again, so I stop her and say in a polite but in an authoritative tone: “Aah excuse me, but these books are for the children.” You can imagine the moment, the opportunist staring at me blankly as though she hadn’t a clue of what I was talking about, the long convoy of children ogling at the action - hanging on every word.
The opportunist realized what was going on and tried to be clever with me and replied: “I have children, too!”. Sympathy, a tactic. I smiled even though no one could see it since I’m wearing a niqab (face cover). I put my pen down and say: “I can happily sign a book for your beloved children, but after you purchase your copy from the publisher. As for this long line of children, these free copies are presents for them, since they sat patiently listening and interacting with me during the reading session.” The woman dumps the book back, puffs up her chest with annoyance and leaves. When I turn back towards my viewers, I wink at them causing a burst of laughter and sighs of relief. I felt I conquered just then, because the smiles on the children’s cheeky faces showed me I respected them and that they important just like any other adult.
Hunna Blog, a peek into the pages of our notebooks and our minds. Not a literacy area rather a jungle of thoughts.