The Library

In a library, there are corners or areas that people frequent less. May be people are afraid to walk alone to dark or ill-lit corners or they don’t want to explore less comfortable territories. These less explored corners are not empty anyway; there will be books stacked in these areas, books untouched, tight against each other, as if they are children looking for some warmth. There may not be lights or glass windows letting in filtered natural light. You might see an empty chair.  Somebody must have sat on it and read a book.  There may be a table close to a window with books scattered on top of it.  Did the same lonely person use the table and the chair regularly?

If there is a window, you can stand near that window, hold a book, and look outside  – at a road busy with people and vehicles, or at the library backyard full of shrubs, or unkempt sheds made of sheets, or aluminum plates, or empty bottles. Sometimes, the windows may be dirty, dust-laden, and rusted. You might also see a few dogs sniffing the plates or leaves containing food leftovers, or just sleeping. There may be birds clinging to branches ready to fly down if the dogs lose interest.You might also see something stirring inside dry leaves. You see it only once.

You might see the evening sun depending upon which window you stand. You turn your head to see whether the sunlight caresses the books on the shelves. As you turn your head back, your gaze falls on the golden letters of a spine cover. Nobody seems to have taken or lifted that book from the shelf for a long time. May be that is the book you wanted to read. Looking at the spine cover, you know that it is an old book. But the golden letters look fresh and inviting. It is never a ploy.

You hear a sound, someone stepping closer but hidden from your view.  Or a reptile inching closer to bite or to feel the warmth of your body.  Slowly, the moisture of the corner and the books get into your head.  You step back and see whether you are late. You still want to remain there. You know that if you hide somewhere nobody will notice it.  If that is the case, you have the entire floor at your disposal for the entire night. You can then sing and dance like a madman throughout the dark floor of the library. You have hundreds of books, old and new, ancient and reprints, books with missing pages and torn pages, books with that refreshing smell. What will you read? If you decide to read only the first page, how many will you read without sleeping that night?

You decide to leave and go back. You know that the books also would love privacy. When the library is closed and all lights are switched off, the letters may start speaking.  The words may arrange themselves in paragraphs.  Who knows? They cannot remain silent forever confined to dusty and unclean shelves. You look back and feel the hushed tones from the end of the room.  Someone might have risen from those books and may be following you. Someone who likes you and want to see that you leave the floor safe. The books may be saying that you will be back before it is too late.



When did you sleep?

Can you know the exact moment when you fell asleep last night? There is a difference between the fact that you decided to sleep, you lied down on the bed, you took a newspaper or a book to read, or you called your mother. But when did you really start the sleeping process that reveals only when you wake up sometime in the night, or in the morning.

At what exact moment did you fall into sleep from being awake?


The Bridge

It became their own bridge and they seemed to be happy about it. They used to walk, run, and jump on it. Once in a while, they carry the dead in a pattern resembling a well-rehearsed orchestra to give the souls a respectful resting place.

The flow was erratic and was never regular to an outsider like me who stood under a tree and watched the bridge, a thin, brown rope tied to two adjacent trees by my grandmother. One of those trees had a big round stem and the rope looked like a necklace adorning a milky white neck. The other end of the rope was tied to a small plant which swayed in the afternoon and evening winds. As I started watching them more and more, inhaling the vibrant aroma of flowers in bloom and trying to understand the erratic traffic on the bridge, I became more concerned about the thin plant with a pencil like stem decorated with a few pale green leaves. The situation was a bit unequal with the balance held by the bigger tree. I felt that the mass of the bigger tree and the force of the wind that made the smaller plant sway wildly might break the bridge on which dozens were still engaged in their erratic dance.Some were pretty fast and eager to collide with others; others were more mature and calculated; others stopped for a while and exchanged messages.

The life that danced on the bridge glistened like golden globes when the canopy opened and let the sunlight hit them. I cannot say that it was a canopy in the real sense of the word. There were trees all around that small garden, and several big trees and their leaves enveloped the trees holding the bridge. I liked one of those big trees on which big yellow flowers blossomed once in a year. The aroma was unmatched when the yellow flowers blossomed, but like good feelings, it lasted only for a while. Faded and weak, they would fall to the ground in a few hours or days. I remember the tree, which grew upwards, at times, when I inhale or sense the same aroma. I don’t know from where and how it occurs. May be I get it around a corner, a market, a flower market, or near a restaurant. It is difficult to ascertain whether the aroma came first, or the color, or both occurred simultaneously.

While life withered and regenerated around, the bridge remained busy.


The Window

There were trees outside that window up in the room. A window from where morning sunlight wafted in mingled with layers of smoke. Was it smoke or was it just an effect? I am not sure. It had the same physical state as the light that flickered from the cinema projector when I looked back. A whitish-yellow cone from where white particles stirred in a pattern. Atomic effect. Nowadays, I remember watching that light while I was listening to the four-band radio. The brain cells that recorded it displays that scene more often now.