A have spent my entire life of four decades at this place. I would have been somewhere else before coming here but now I have very foggy memories of that time. I only remember the time I have spent here. In the beginning I was alone. For the first decade or so I did not pay much attention to anyone else. I was new and stubborn and being philosophical. I must also say that I was a snob. And then she came. I do not recollect exactly the time, but it must have been about 15 years or so after I had arrived. By then, I started having a feeling that there were few takers for me – being big, bulky and boring. I noticed her immediately, as she came to live next door. She was unlike me in every way. She was slim, beautiful and romantic. Oh her eyelids! When she fluttered those, my heart melted. I never knew such feelings and things existed before I saw her. Over the next days and months, I watched her steadily. She had enamoured me. I wanted her to notice me too. But I didn’t know how? In any case what she can find interesting in me? I guess she noticed me for the first time a full three months after she had come to live next door. Our eyes met and she gave me a piercing look with her cool blue eyes. I froze. After a few days, I noticed that she also had started fancying me. Many times in the day I caught her stealing glances at me. Being so savvy and hot, needless to say, she was very popular. Frequently, she was going out. I used to envy the people who used to take her out. I wished, I too could be with her. I too wanted her company. To be able to look at her and smell her fragrance. I thought that day would never come. But finally, it did. It took four decades but the day came when my wishes came true. This is the story. My story and hers. And of our love. But it is no ordinary story and might sound confusing to most humans. So I must start at the beginning and tell you all in detail.
I am a book. My name is Story of Philosophy. I was written by the great American Philosopher of the twentieth century, Will Durant. I am a very famous book but few people have dared to read me. As I am a bulky book on a difficult topic, people usually buy me to keep in their bookshelves rather than to read me. My present form is black leather bound with golden letters. I live in the massive David Sassoon Library at Pune, in a huge oak-wood bookshelf marked P for Philosophy.
Since I came here from the bookshop, 40 years ago, a few people have issued me out. But very few have read me. My first reader was a middle-aged man. He wore a thick black spectacles. He chain smoked cigarettes, blowing the smoke on to my pages. He was a fast reader and perhaps an intellectual, because he finished reading me in three days. Then, there was this young buxom lady who used to wear eau de cologne. She took longer, about a month to finish reading me. Of late, very few people have bothered to look me up. Invariably, I lay ensconced in my book rack labelled ‘P’. Right across my bookrack, is another one. The sun shines on it even in winter. ‘R’ for Romance, is its label. I used to look down upon the book rack and its constituents as frivolous. After all, how serious can Romance be? That was until she came. She was “Love Story” by Erich Segal.
She was unlike me in all respects. Instead of being leather-bound with golden letters, she was in a bright pink paperback. She shined even more as sunlight fell onto her jacket. She was issued out much more frequently than I was. People thoroughly read her and enjoyed her much more than they would ever do to me. I was smitten by her on the first day she was brought and placed in the rack opposite mine. And over a period of time, it turned into love. I used to chat with her across the book racks after the closing hours of the library – as books often do. She used to intently listen to me with open-eyed wonder and in return she read her own story to me. Over the last 30 years or so since she had come I had heard her story at least a thousand times. Yet, I yearned to hear it again and again. I fell even more deeply in love with her after each rendition. I wished to be with her, on her rack, beside her. I wanted to smell her aroma – which is unique to every book – and is revealed to one only when he is deeply in love with that book. I wondered if she would want to relish my aroma. If she would smell me, would she get the odd smell of cigarette smoke and eau de cologne? I wondered if she would like my aroma.
After speaking to her for many I years, one day I finally opened my heart and confessed my love to her. She laughed out loud, her already pink jacket turned even pinker by her blushing. She asked me what took me so long to say it? I told her that I was afraid that I would be rejected. After all, there is nothing common between the two of us. To this, she quoted from her story, “I was afraid of being rejected, yes. I was also afraid of being accepted for the wrong reasons.” And I agreed. Hastily, she added, that of course, she was accepting me for the right reasons! I asked her, what were those. She looked me straight in the eye and smiled. “I like your body”, she said. Another of those fantastic quotes from her story! But alas our love was to be platonic. Unlike humans, we could not hop, jump or even walk. So we were reduced to watching each other from a (human) arm’s length and chatting after the library closed.
Till one day last autumn.
Two youngsters landed up at the library. The boy picked me up from my shelf. Although I am calling him a boy, he was more of a man with boyish looks. He was a quick reader, although not a gentle one. I gathered that he was doing a major in philosophy in a postgraduate programme. The girl, again more of a woman but with the charms of a girl, picked up “Love Story”. Instead of issuing out the books. They sat on the reading table and delved into their respective books. It seemed that both were in a hurry to read and finish. They kept on reading way past the closing time. The librarian must have forgotten about them. He closed the library leaving these two readers locked inside. They were oblivious to this. For the first time in years, I was near my love. Still a bit far but much nearer than when we were on the shelves. I started talking to her in our book language which humans perceive only as a faint rustle. We were discussing our respective readers. We talked about their qualities such as reading speeds, pauses and focus. After a long while, the boy finally spoke. He said, “Amita, it is quite late now, I guess we should leave”. Amita nodded and they started walking towards the exit, leaving us open on the reading table. Soon they realised they had been locked inside! It was time for Amita to panic! The boy (whose name was Rahul – I later learnt) assuaged her. But the girl was panicky. She was even refusing to sit down. After a while, Rahul finally convinced her to calm down a little and they sat down on the carpet on the floor.
Meanwhile, Rahul had picked both the books and was keeping them in his hands. This was the first time I was in touch with “Love Story”. It felt nice to feel her pink paperback cover. A faint fragrance emanated from her reminding me of first rains. I loved it. Rahul and Amita were sitting together on the floor and soon they were chatting. She had calmed down now and was speaking in a normal tone. She picked up her book and Rahul picked me up and both started reading where they had left off. After about half an hour they stopped and looked at each other. They kept us – books – aside. We were both open and on top of each other. Rahul and Amita were holding hands now and Amita had kept her head on Rahul’s shoulders. I too held the hand of my love. In fact, now we were in an embrace – both books were open. She was open on the page which has the description of love-making of the protagonists. Rahul and Amita were now mumbling and I saw Rahul lightly kissing her on the cheeks. And then on her lips. Suddenly they embraced each other. That shook us both the books and we were flung out. We landed some distance away on top of each other. Rahul and Amita were in the throes of passion. I too made hugged the love of my life and whispered – I love you my darling! They were in an unusual haste while leaving. In their haste, they kept us together on another shelf! And thus, our love got consummated and wish of being together came true after 30 years!
This post is part of the Valentine’s Day blog train hosted by www.prernawahi.com and www.vartikasdiary.com sponsored by ShilpSa, Kalpavriksha Famrs and Neha from @bloggingmadeeasier
This story is in response to the photo prompt at the beginning of the story.