It’s been three days.

It is now Saturday, the day Tankiso and Kyle and Rosaria are going to film us at my library.

Oh my word! Those words sound surreal to say! Surreal is when something looks unreal, but also real at the same time.

Tankiso asked in class who would like to be present and Siyamthanda put up her hand. She didn’t even hesitate! I don’t know if it’s because she likes being filmed, or likes books, or likes me, but I would be happy with any of these three.

We start filming at my library at 8am. Tankiso says you should film earlier rather than later, ‘because something always comes up’.

I’ve set up everything to look neat and tidy. The jug with fresh water with sliced lemon in is ready. The chairs are clean.

Siyamthanda brought a small bunch of flowers that she picked on the way (from over a fence) and I’ve arranged them in a water glass.

“Why don’t libraries have flowers? Libraries should have flowers,” she says.

What a wonderful thing to think and to say!

Siyamthanda has brought Joko and Lesedi along, to be ‘extras’. An extra is someone you see in the background, but they’re not the main character in the story.

I am nervous and tell Tankiso so, but she reassures me that they will film not only today but at other times too. And if I feel too nervous or shy, or I say something I don’t mean to say, it’s fine, because they have an editor. And editor is someone who works on the video on a computer and takes out things you don’t want the viewer to see – like someone sneezing.

Kyle is holding the boom, which is like a long broomstick with a big sponge at the end. It’s to record voices and sound.

“Why don’t we have a shot of someone taking out a book?” suggests Rosaria.

“I like that,” says Tankiso. “You guys?”

She’s asking us. Lesedi looks at Joko. Joko looks at Lesedi. Siyamthanda looks at Tankiso. Then she looks at me.

“I will,” she says.

And my heart almost skips. I feel like I am doing a cartwheel nobody can see.

The camera is on.

“Speed,” says Lesedi, which I now know means the camera is rolling.

“This is Phelo, and he has opened a new, independent space, within walking distance of his school. Can you tell us a little about it, Phelo?” says Tankiso.

I want to say a million things.

I want to say thank you; I want to say ‘yes please’; I want to hold up my three favourite books; I want to tell them that if you read, you can think anything, be anything, do anything. I want to have books that tell you how to do things (like make a bag); books that show you ancient civilisations (like the Incas), books that take your hand and pull you into the clouds.

I want to tell them that I met Luto Fela, who signed a copy of his book and gave it to me, specially to me. And that he wrote: Dear Phelo – keep the story alive.

Remember that? I’ll always keep that book. I’ll keep every book I ever own right here, in my library.

I hope, really hope, that you’ll come and visit, and take something out. Maybe one day soon?

I open my mouth and begin to speak.


Tell us: Has this story changed your attitude to libraries and reading? Have you ever felt you’d like to write a story of your own?