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This Book Is Mein Now

, , , , | Working | July 5, 2021

When I’m thirteen, my family is on a trip together and we stop at a small village for lunch and some fresh air. My whole family is ethnically Chinese, and this whole village only has white people in it.

As we are strolling through town, my seventeen-year-old spots an old books shop and decides to take a look inside. I follow her in. As we enter, the bookshop owner looks up and just stares at us. He’s a bald old man that looks like the exact image of an “old, white academic.”

My cousin immediately spots a book she wants to read and pounces on it. I stand beside her and browse the bookshelf. It’s full of Nazi stuff, which my cousin is interested in. She does history in school and is really disappointed that finding surviving Nazi literature is difficult back home, so she is really excited to find their books, especially translated versions.

She reads it for five minutes or so before the bookshop owner comes up to us. He still hasn’t stopped staring.

Owner: “Are you enjoying that book, miss?”

Cousin: “Yes, I am. How much is it?”

Owner: “For you, sixteen pounds.”

My cousin nods and pulls out her wallet.

Owner: “Where are you from?”

Cousin: “Singapore.”

She passes him the bills, but when he takes them, he holds her hand for a very long time.

Owner: “Ah. China. It’s good that you’re learning a second language.”

Cousin: “Singapore isn’t in China. And English is my first language.”

Owner: “Of course.”

He is still holding her hand and staring right into her eyes. My cousin pulls her hands away, placing the money on a nearby table.

Cousin: “Uh, [My Name]. I think it’s time to go now.”

Me: “Okay.”

Owner: “No, please, stay. I’ve never met someone from China before.”

He reached out and tried to grab her as he said that. My cousin turned white as a sheet and batted his hand away with her book, grabbed my wrist with her other hand, and practically ran out of the shop.

There has to be some irony in a Chinese female using a Nazi book to defend herself against a racist creep, but at that point, we were too busy running for our lives to notice it.

We found my dad and aunt, and my cousin quickly filled them in and demanded that we get in the car and leave ASAP. My dad looked like he wanted to punch the bookshop owner’s teeth out, but my aunt had the car keys and overruled him, so we all piled in and hightail it out of there.

It was only an hour later that I realised that I was still holding the book I was reading before our hasty retreat, but my aunt and cousin were adamant that we were never stepping foot within a twenty-mile radius of that village ever again, so I wound up keeping the book.

And that’s how I stole my copy of “Mein Kampf.”

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