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.

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