A recent post of mine described the local shop owners that were part of my life growing up. I reserved a special post for one of them, whom I would be remiss not to celebrate: The little Zarif Kiosk facing the well-known Zarif Pharmacy. The pharmacy still stands today--this is a recent picture of it. But the kiosk is long gone, and so is its kind-hearted owner. Sadly, I don't have a picture of either. I never even knew his name, but the images of the little place and the sweet face of its owner are forever etched in my heart. .
The kiosk sold newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, school supplies, desk gadgets and, to my greatest joy, the hottest children and teenage books, and bandes dessinées (comic books). The voracious bookworm I was at the time was not satiated with the offerings of our school library. I needed a more ample and varied supply. I would stop at the kiosk every other day on my way back from school and offer myself the best treat in the world: A new book. Every other day that is, until my monthly allowance ran out, which did not take too long.
My dear friend would comment that he had not seen me for several days and I would smile shyly and carry on home. It did not take the perspicacious man too long to uncover the reasons for those interruptions in my visits. .
One day, he called me in and said: "How about we make a secret pact, you and I. You can take any book you want, and as long as you bring it back in the same condition you took it, you don't have to pay me for it." I was on cloud nine and beyond...
My dear friend and I kept our pact for many years. I borrowed books to my heart's content. I would read the book overnight, thanks to my accomplices--my bedcover and my precious flashlight-- and return it to him unscratched, unbent, barely even opened the next day or so.
Books have been great companions in my life. They've made me a more rounded individual and a better writer, in my humble opinion. Who knows if, without my dear friend, the sweet Zarif Kiosk owner, this would have still been the case.
We don't always get to thank the angels in our lives for the good deeds they did to us. We don't always get to report back to them about the positive impact they had on us. That never stopped my dear friend.
Rest in peace my sweet hero, whatever your name might be... and if you ever wondered, my name is Dima.
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