He pored over the mammoth book, his glasses almost at the edge of his beaky nose. His eyes were a horrid shade of red, embellished with dark circles beneath them. His skin was yellow and pale, as if it hadn’t seen sun much. A faded tee clung to his skinny torso, while a baggy jean barely clutched his thin waist. He was too small for the over-sized jean.
Short, bespectacled – Kyushu was a model student. Top in every class, yet perhaps the most unnoticed entity in the senior class. Nobody talked to him, he didn’t talk to anyone – and he was happy with that. His books were his friends. His notes were his companions. He didn’t need anybody else.
He thirsted for knowledge, for information. And now, when Tokyo University entrance exams were in the sight, it was only natural for him to study more and more. This was his career after all. What if he slept less than two hours a day, what if his eyes were bleary and dazed, what if his hands shook and head pounded now and then? His mind was functioning properly. He mustn’t be wasting time on sleep.
He had to know everything. He wanted to be able to answer to every question.
His frenzied thirst for knowledge was disconcerting.
“Mr. Urawe, you can borrow some of these books next week too, you know. This library isn’t going anywhere. I can’t imagine you reading ten books of such length in just seven days!” the librarian of Tokyo Central Library had exclaimed, as he had placed the books on the counter for borrowing.
He had grunted an annoyed reply. What business was it of hers?
“My entrance exams would be starting in two months, and I want to cover as much reference books as possible.”
“I understand, but …” the librarian had just begun to mumble.
More annoyed now, he had snapped, cutting her in mid-sentence,” Please mind your own business. You’re not paid to give counseling advice here.”
The librarian, taken back at the rudeness of his reply, started to stamp the books to be borrowed.
She vowed to never help any grumpy teenager again.
What a time! Even well-meant advice is scorned – the librarian thought indignantly as she slammed the cover of The Classical Physics: Basic Principles and Doctrines shut and slid the books over to the boy, who quickly filled the books in his beg and walked out of the library.
Greedy kid, does not even have the decency to say thank you, the librarian thought sullenly and once again, absorbed herself in the monotonous work of a librarian. Stamping, indexing, sorting and more stamping.
“At least, have some miso! It’s your favorite!” the disheveled plump woman scolded.
“I don’t want to. I don’t feel like it!” Kyushu made a face.
“Eat up! You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday! How could you study if you lay off the food!? See, how skinny you’ve become … if only your father was here, he would make you eat it! Boys can be so tiresome sometimes!” Kyushu’s mother shrilly reprimanded.
“I said I don’t wanna!” Kyushu slammed his fork down and sliding back his chair, clambered out of it and headed for his room – he was so not up for a fight now, he had a lot to study and he couldn’t afford to waste anymore time on his mother’s attempts to feed him. Doesn’t she get it? Food is not a priority. Hell, a person could survive fifty days without food. Why make a fuss on every meal? He thought sulkily.
“You come back here, mister!” his mother shouted, as he climbed the stairs to his room.
He was not greedy for food. He was greedy for knowledge. He understood that the entrance exam was just a pretext to spend more and more time on reading books.
Knowledge was his drug. It intoxicated him. How can he not consume it?
Time was hurling fast as always. Two months passed in a snap. He had done a dozen more trips to the library – borrowing as much as twelve books at once. He had the membership card, so he could’ve even got a hundred, but then he didn’t want the librarian to choke at the sight of them. His mother surely would’ve become hysterical and he would’ve had to waste more time on hearing her wails and shrieks. He’d rather read some interesting book on Neo Biology.
He smiled faintly.
He just couldn’t part from his books. He longed for them, attributing the longing to his greed for knowledge. Yes, he had always been like that. From early days of his childhood, he had been reading everything from the back of shampoo bottles to the posters stuck on the supermarket walls. Books were his subsistence and he thrived on them. Books were his craving and his greed was satiated by them. Books were his world and he was besotted by them.
Greed. Greed. Greed.
Maybe it was not so bad, after all.
His knowledge was vaster than any distinguished professor of Tokyo University. He was more well-informed about latest discoveries than any of his classmates. He could easily give a PhD run for his money!
Yes, Greed was not bad – the ancients were stupid, who had labeled it as one of the deadly seven sins!
But, then I KNOW more than them, so who cares what they called it! He thought smugly and returned to his books.
Tomorrow was the day of the entrance exam.
sinα±sinβ=2 sin〖1/2 (α±β)〗 cos〖1/2(α∓β)〗
The equation had popped out of his mouth, as a wave of nausea hit him. He stuffed the equation back into his mouth and tried to concentrate. The pencil in his hand trembled, as his hand shook.
Nausea soon smacked him again and he placed his hand over his mouth. He belched. A few equations slipped from the crevices in his fingers and spilled in front of him.
f(x)=a_0+∑_(n=1)^∞▒(a_n cos〖nπx/L〗+b_n sin〖nπx/L〗 ) landed in his lap.
His eyes wide in horror, he collected the equations and packing them again in his mouth, swallowed.
Another cramp of agony in his stomach made him cringe and covering his mouth with his right hand raised his left to signal to the invigilator that he wanted to use washroom.
The invigilator nodded and made a gesture to affirm his permission. Kyushu with his hand on his mouth, rushed out of the hall to the men washroom. He pushed the door open and hurrying to the basin, vomited. A jet of equations and formulas issued from his mouth.
Gasping for air, he tried to cram them again in his mouth, inducing another sickening lurch in his stomach.
His eyes paranoid, quivering in mania, sodden in perspiration – he kept vomiting equations and then ramming them back in.
He slumped on the floor, twisting and writhing, screaming and shouting, equations pouring from his mouth and mounting in heaps on the tiled bathroom floor. He blubbered; spilling all the knowledge that he had so contently cabinet-ed in his mind – but he couldn’t do much about it.
This was the price of Greed.
Cross Mental Facility, Sagami.
Name of patient: Kyushu Urawe.
Age: 18 years old.
Diagnosis: Acute Paranoia and Chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
[Note: Inspired by the anime Paranoia Agent.]