At the Library
I have never seen his face, or hers. I cannot tell who lies beneath those baggy clothes and the huge tower of books at the front desk. I have been coming here for a long time now. I never see anyone else besides The Librarian.We have never shared a word.
My day starts at the library door. I enter into the vast expanse of tall bookshelves. There is no one, as usual. I have a few books to return. I have a list for book hunting too. I have it. It has been ages, but I finally found all the books on my list. I put them down on the front desk. I watched them getting picked up one after another and then left to be picked up by me. No words, no eye contact, nothing.
I pick up the books and walk a little towards the library door. There is a wooden bench just outside the door towards its left. It is hidden by the library walls and a vast expanse of mango trees. I have loved mangoes. I hope summer arrives soon. I take a seat and observe the lady approaching me slowly.Today she is wearing a red dress that ends at her knees; her hair is tied at the back of her head in a bun, and her white shoes look curiously white. I have wondered how she kept them so white. I have never asked her I never spoke to her. She comes and reads to me. When the day ends and I fall asleep, she leaves. In the morning, I find myself with a new list and at the library door.
She sits beside me and picks the first book. She starts reading. I listen and get lost in the words. It is sometimes a man. I do not know if he is related to the woman or not. I have never asked him. He sits beside me and starts reading. I can’t remember their faces after what feels like years. They are usually hidden behind the open books. And I am lost somewhere in the words. But there is another reason I do not want to know their faces. I once dared to look directly into the lady’s eyes. I saw fear. The fear rushed through my veins and I collapsed.
It has been a tiring night, I feel. My head hurts and I feel tired. But I have got the list. I need to find the books. I find and take the books to the front desk, and I see it is clear. There is no tower of books. I can see the librarian — old, pale, with teary eyes, tired, and quivering lips. I smile. I do not know what else to do. I do not speak. I smile. I get a smile in return. I turn towards the library door, feeling that I do not need books anymore. I have an adventure coming up. Today, something different happened. I feel the newness. TIRING but exciting.
The lady comes and the man too. Together! I give another broad grin. As they approach, I see there is a book in the lady’s hand. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. They have been read to me a million times. I wonder if today is something special. Do they know about my adventure? Should I ask them? Will they tell me? I burst with questions when I realised they had sat on the bench. I go and stand in front of them. I look at them, their eyes teary but happy. Maybe they do not know about my adventure. Maybe they are happy for me as much as I am for me. They hold my hands, one in each, and then gesture for me to sit on the ground. I sit and then they come beside me. I lie on the man’s lap and he strokes my hair. The lady squeezes my hand and blows a kiss.
The lady opens the book and starts reading for the last time.