Closing The Files In My Life

by Patrick Liew on September 24, 2011

“Mrs. Lim, can I have the key to the library?

“We are having a lesson break and like to spend our time in it?”

Once again, Mrs. Lim smiled and enthusiastically handed over the key to me.

This and similar conversations happened in 1971.

There are hardly any students that would be more enthusiastic than us about going to the library. This was especially so because we could use the free period to do whatever we wanted.

Why were we so passionate about going to the library?

After more than 40 years, I have finally decided to reveal the secret to you. A secret that my fellow classmates almost had to swear that we will take to the grave. 🙂

Let me share this story from almost the beginning.

I was appointed as a school librarian from my first week until the very last day in school.

What I thought was simply an assignment turned out to be a divine appointment.

Being a librarian helped to deepen my love for books. Subsequently, when I was going through my tertiary education, I was spending more time reading all kinds of books in the library than learning in the classroom.

But there was more to a library – at least to me – than just about reading books.

The truth that I am about to share with you may shock you. Whatever the case, it will finally set me free.

When my friends and I went to the library, we would make sure the doors were securely locked. The windows – closed.

Nobody could take a peep into the sacred space of the library.

We could not afford to have a single hunch that ‘dark forces’ lurked behind the hallowed walls.

Once we have prepared ourselves in the library, we would take turn to hop on to the one and only trolley in the library.

The race would begin.

We would push each other around the bookshelves. We would time ourselves to decide who would be the best racer.

We would also compete to see who could set the next record-breaking timing for completing the circuit.

I believe the standing record is still held by SK, a member of my YAFI (pronounced as Ya-Fai) gang in school.

SK – you know who you are – we need to race one more time. I have been licking my wounds over the loss for more than four decades now.  🙂

One not-so-fateful day, we were conducting our ‘Library F1 Race.’ The worst possible thing happened.

One of the trolley wheels came off.

We tried to fix it – but it was impossible.

We could still push it around. However, it would wobble on an uneven keel – never ever going straight after the fatal accident.

Ever since that day, we could not race again.

Till my last day as a student, the school continued to use the same trolley.

Every now and then, Mrs. Lim, the library teacher would ask me, “What happened to the trolley?”

In later years, when we met after my graduation, she would still ask me, “Do you know what happened to the trolley?”

I always felt she had a twinkle in her eyes when she asked the question – but I could never ascertain the truth behind her smile.

Recently, I decided I need to close outstanding files in my life. I wanted to clear my obligations and debts.

I wanted to pay restitutions for the wrongdoings in my life.

The case of the broken trolley was one of the last files. I made a decision to put it to rest.

I made a decision to contact the principal.

We agreed that he will let me sponsor the upgrading of the teaching and learning facility (Instruction Room) in the library.

According to the principal, “It would go a long way in making the Instruction Room more conducive for collaborative work and learning amongst our students.”

On September 20, 2011, I managed to track down Mrs. Lim.

I called her to thank her for appointing me as a librarian.

As a result, I cultivated love for reading.

I also confessed to her about my wrongdoing and asked her for forgiveness. That’s when I discovered she could not remember the incident and it was not a major problem.

The file is now closed. My heart is at peace.

There is nothing I can ever do to repay the school. Through serving in the library, I have developed a lifelong appreciation for books.

I will always have a library of books around me, and my alma mater’s library will always be in my heart.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please go to ‘Notes’ found below my profile picture.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Question: How can we close outstanding files in our lives?


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