He had repaired all types of books, from Bibles to incunabula with pages on the point of turning to dust. He was very good at returning to their places torn-out pages, repairing covers, and spraying them with a chemical solution that made the ink stand out. Through his hands had passed nineteenth century manuscripts, first editions of the works of JosĂ© MartĂ and even a couple of copies of the Constitution of 1940. To all of them he returned the elegance they had once had, and on salvaging them he read them, like the doctor who wants a peek into the soul of a patient whose viscera he already knows well.
He had never seen a book, however, like that brought to him that afternoon in the late eighties. By its size and thickness it seemed to be the pharmacological recipe book of a dispensary, but it didnât contain chemical formulas nor the names of medicines, but instead it was full of accusations. It was the detailed inventory of all the reports that the employees of a company had made against their colleagues. Without realizing her indiscretion, the directorâs secretary sent it to be repaired â this register of complaints â with its worn cover and several torn out pages. Thus, it came into the hands of the persistent librarian, that invaluable testimony, on paper, of the betrayals.
As in the plot of Dangerous Liaisons, in one part it could be read that Alberto, the chief of personnel, had been accused of taking raw material for his house. A few pages later it was the denounced himself who was relaying the âcounterrevolutionaryâ expressions used by the cleaning assistant in the dining room. The murmurs overlapped, weaving a real and abominable box where everyone spied on everyone. Maricusa, the accountant â as witnessed by her office mate â was selling cigars at retail from her desk, but when she wasnât involved in this illegal work she turned her attention to reporting that the administrator left some hours before closing. The mechanic appeared several times, mentioned for having extramarital relations with a woman in the union, while several reports against the cook were signed in his own hand.
On concluding the reading, one could only sense an enormous pain for these âcharactersâ forced to act out a sinister and disloyal plot. So the restorer returned the book to the fray, after having done the worst job his hands had ever executed. Even today, he canât stop thinking about the names, reports and accusations that those pages have continued to accumulate all these years.