For its lengthy travel, from Europe to New Zealand, this box (of books and other treats as you learnt in the previous blog) was in fine condition. This is not always the case. Occasionally, custom officers leave a note to say they’ve had a sneak peak, in the worst case scenario to inform you that a prohibited item (like seeds some thoughtful friends sent in the early years) has been removed or will be destroyed unless you produce official permission for import.

Occasionally, the content looks worse for wear: damaged, wet, broken. It’s anyone’s guess what happened on that journey of 20,000 kms by land and air. Books stained by water damage are not a pretty sight. Trying to peel apart sticky pages can render parts of the print unreadable. So tragic! Fortunately, everything looked in perfect condition. Most importantly, this applied to the chocolate and Lotus speculaas too.

Slowly, because I want to feel the delight of each discovery, I unpack the box and finally reach the books. Two heavy weights, delivered as requested: Judas by Astrid Holleeder and Nachtouders (Night Parents) by Saskia de Coster.

And here is … a third book! One my moeke chose for me. On the black and white cover a freckled, serious looking face of a young teenage girl, her pony tail snaking around her neck and resting on her left shoulder. Not a joyful picture, reminiscent of pictures of children caught in the insanity and starkness of a world at war. But I don’t think Let op mijn woorden written by Griet Op de Beeck is a war story. Without having read the story yet, I can only offer a temporary literal translation: Take notice of my words (i.e. of what I say).

What an incredibly fitting book title my mother picked for her eldest daughter who loves literature and language.

An unexpected book and a title that pierces my wordy heart equals a thoughtful, precious gift from my mother. The bestest surprise. How incredibly fitting for this blog.

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