The Librarian - My Mother

I stand at the small train-station in Irene waiting for my mother to return from work. The people come and go from the parking lot to the station. Some stalls are selling fruit to the passers-by. I stand some distance off and watch as the commuters head for the platforms. At intervals a train might pull up and discard its passengers, picking up new ones for the next stop. Trains travel north and south between Johannesburg and Pretoria. I stand and wait while smoking a cigarette and drinking a ‘Coke’. The place is busy today as I wait for my mother’s train to arrive. She is nearing retirement now, and had been a librarian all of her life.

I remember as a little boy when she was working at the school library in Pretoria. I would walk between the rows and rows of books and choose some for myself. I read comics and books about dinosaurs and history. Books about pirates and the Second World War. I even tried reading ‘Moby Dick’ once, but I was still too young, and didn’t get far into it. I read books about all kinds of things that might interest a child, and the library was a place of wonder to me.

As I grew older my love of reading and books increased, and in my early twenties I read a lot of popular fiction and poetry. It was a privilege to grow up among books and with the culture of reading. It has enriched my life immensely. It all started for me in that old library many years ago as a child, and it has never left me. Books are stuff of magic, and a passport to the great beyond. I stand and reflect on these memories as I wait for the train.

Soon it will pull into the station, and after a short while I will see my mother come walking from the gate. I stand by the car and wait while finishing a cigarette. The music plays softly on the radio, as another train approaches from the distance, and the crowd mill about in the parking lot.


My mother passed away last week after a severe illness of several months. She dedicated her life to education and books. She was seventy years old.