The Library Girl

THE LIBRARY GIRL

Story of a Girl Who Liked Books

A Romance By Vikram Karve 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/04/do-you-like-reading-books.html

Part 1 

At a Library in Pune

“Excuse me – are you returning that book…?” a feminine voice said in my left ear.

I was standing in front of the library counter.

I looked towards my left.

She was a good looking girl – of my age.

The girl was pointing to a book I had kept on the counter – an ‘Anthology of Short Stories’ – a newly arrived book in the Library.

“No. I am not returning the book. In fact – I am borrowing this book for reading…” I said.

“Oh – I thought you are returning that book – I have been desperately wanting to read it ever since I saw the cover on the “new arrivals” notice board…” she said.

“I too want to read this book. You can borrow it from the library when I return it…” I said.

If the girl thought that she could charm me into giving her the book – she was mistaken.

I will never “sacrifice” a good book – even for the most beautiful girl.

The librarian across the counter asked for my library card – stamped the return date on the book – and gave the book to me.

The ‘good looking girl’ was still standing beside me.

“May I see the book…?” the girl asked me.

I gave the book to the girl.

She looked at the cover – browsed through the book – and she gave it back to me.

“I really want to read this book. When will you be returning it…?” she asked me.

“Next Sunday. I will return the book next Sunday…” I said.

“You come to the library every Sunday…?”

“Yes. I come to library on Sundays…” I said.

“I come to the library every day. I study in the college down the road and live in the girl’s hostel next door…” she said.

“Well – I live in the Engineering College hostel…” I said.

“Oh – that’s quite far away…”

“Yes. That is why I can come on only Sundays…”

“Oh – I am lucky I live in the hostel nearby. I come to the library every evening after classes – and – nowadays – sometimes – I come on Sunday mornings too…”

“What are you doing – BA – B.Sc. – or…?”

“Of course I am doing my BA in Literature – I told you that I love reading…” she said.

“Well – I am not as lucky as you are – I too love literature – but – I am stuck with boring ‘Engineering’…” I said.

As I smiled a ‘goodbye’ to her and started walking towards the exit – she said to me:

“Don’t forget to bring the book next Sunday. And – you make sure that you give it to me. I will be waiting here in the library from 10 o’clock onwards…”

When I went back to the hostel and started reading the book – I thought of the girl I had met in the library – and – in my mind’s eye – I nicknamed her ‘Library Girl’.

Next Sunday – I reached the library at 10:30 in the morning.

I found the good looking ‘Library Girl’ waiting for me in eager anticipation.

Well – she was waiting eagerly for the book – not for me…

From then on – the ‘Library Girl’ and I met every Sunday – in the Library – mostly in the ‘Fiction’ section – especially searching for Short Story Books on the “Short Fiction” Book-Racks.

I discovered that – our reading interests were similar.

Just like me – ‘Library Girl’ too loved reading ‘Short Stories’ – and – we often discussed the short stories we had read – and we recommended books to each other.

I looked forward to meeting ‘Library Girl’ every Sunday.

I enjoyed being with her – as we browsed the library bookshelves together – and talked about books and our favourite short stories.

Believe it or not – but – we did not take our relationship to the “next level”.

I was a “shy type”.

And – maybe – she was the “shy type” too.

Ours was a unique friendship – a clean pure friendship – an exquisite ethereal relationship – a platonic love so delicate – that one wrong move might destroy everything.

I believe – that sometimes – it is better to keep a friendship at platonic level – because – a romantic involvement – especially a physical relationship – can muddle up emotions – and ruin a beautiful sublime friendship.

‘Library Girl’ and Me – we both probably wanted to keep our friendship at the platonic level – so – our beautiful friendship – our Sunday morning “bookish” relationship – it went on for a long time.

Days passed – months – years – and my Friendship with ‘Library Girl’ flourished…

Then – one Sunday – after our morning ‘Library Time’ – as I said ‘goodbye’ to ‘Library Girl’ – she said to me:

“Wait – I want you to meet “someone”…”

“It’s already 1:15 – our mess closes at 2 – and it will take me at least half an hour to cycle down to my hostel…” I said.

“Please wait. I will treat you to lunch. I want you to meet someone…” she insisted.

So – I waited – I sat down next to her in the reading room browsing through a literary magazine.

I could see that ‘Library Girl’ was eagerly looking at the entrance – waiting for her ‘someone’ to arrive.

Suddenly – she nudged me.

I looked up – and – I could see that ‘Library Girl’ was smiling at her ‘someone’ who was standing at the entrance.

We walked to the foyer of the library.

‘Library Girl’ introduced her ‘someone’ to me.

“He is my fiancé…” she said to me.

Then – ‘Library Girl’ introduced me to her fiancé .

“He is my ‘Library Boyfriend’ – the one I told you all about…” she said to her fiancé.

Her fiancé treated us to lunch in a classy restaurant – after all – he was a rich businessman – a smart guy from New Delhi.

Notwithstanding her ‘engagement’ – my Sunday morning friendship with ‘Library Girl’ continued.

But – soon – her BA course was over – and – we met for the last time in the library.

“My course is over – I am winding up my things here and I will be going home tomorrow…” ‘Library Girl’ said.

For her – ‘home’ was Bangalore – where her Army Officer father was posted then.

“Why don’t you do your MA in Literature here in Pune..?” I said to ‘Library Girl’.

“No chance of further studies for me…” she said, “my wedding is fixed next month. They were just waiting for me to complete my BA. And frankly – I am not really interested in studies – I just want to read plenty of books.”

“You will be living in Delhi after marriage..?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

“You are very lucky.”

“Why…?”

“Delhi is the best place for book lovers.”

“Really…?”

“Yes – there are so many excellent libraries – and wonderful bookstores where you can browse – and – every year – in winter – there is a magnificent Book Fair at Pragati Maidan…” I said to her.

“Wow – it’s going to be so exciting – I am really going to read books to my heart’s content…” she said, “I am already feeling so eager to go to Delhi…”

“Yes. Delhi is a Book Lover’s Paradise. You are really lucky…” I said.

“And you…? What are your plans…?” she asked me.

“Well – I have got one year to go to finish my Engineering – then – maybe I will take up some job in the industry – let’s see…” I said.

Then – we said our last ‘goodbye’.

I did not ask for her address – and – neither did she ask for my address.

Why ask for the address of a “destination” – where it is not desirable for you to go.

We knew that our platonic friendship was destined to be a transient relationship – like passing ships at sea – and – we ourselves had intentionally kept it that way.

So – we said our last ‘goodbye’ – and – ‘Library Girl’ and Me – we parted company.

3 YEARS LATER 

Part 2 

At the same Library in Pune

Three years later – I saw ‘Library Girl’ in the Library.

She was browsing books in the ‘Fiction’ section.

‘Library Girl’ saw me too.

She smiled at me.

I smiled back at her – and – I walked towards her.

“What a pleasant surprise…” I said to her.

“Yes – I am so happy to see you too. So – I can see that you have continued your ‘Sunday Morning Date’ with the Library…” she said.

“Yes – I still come here every Sunday morning…” I said.

“You work now…?”

“Yes – in the automotive industry – I got a campus placement in my final year of engineering.”

“That’s great…” she said.

“And you – what brings you to Pune…? I asked her.

“My Dad retired from the Army last month – and my parents have settled down in Pune…” she said.

“Oh – so you have come on a holiday…?” I said.

“No – I have come to Pune permanently…” she said.

“Permanently…?”

“Yes – I have come to Pune permanently.”

“What happened…? Don’t tell me that your husband has relocated to Pune…?” I said.

“No – he hasn’t relocated here – I have left my husband – I going to divorce him…” she said.

I was taken aback – and involuntarily – I uttered:

“Oh…”

For some time – I was confused as to what I should say to her.

I was not sure what does one say to someone who is getting divorced.

So – I said to her:

“I am very sorry…”

“It’s okay…” she said.

We looked at each other in silence – ‘Library Girl’ an Me.

I did not know what to say.

It seemed that she too did not know what to say.

After some moments of silence – ‘Library Girl’ looked at me and she said to me:

“Do you know the reason why I am divorcing my husband…?”

“Why are you divorcing your husband..? What is the reason…?” I asked her.

“Books…!!!”

“Books…?”

“Yes. Books – that is the reason for my divorce – “Books”…!!!”

“What are you saying…? How can “Books” be a reason for divorce…?”

“My husband – and his folks – especially my ‘mother-in-law’ – they did not like my “reading habit”…”

“What do you mean by “they did not like my “reading habit”…”…? How can anyone not like someone else reading…? Reading is such a harmless and quiet activity.”

“It was a joint family – lot of socializing – plenty of relatives and guests visiting all the time – and – my mother-in-law always wanted me hanging around – especially – if someone came over to visit – and people were always coming over to visit us throughout the day…”

“So…?”

“So – whenever I went to my room to read a book – my mother-in-law would keep disturbing me and calling me out – and – even when there were no visitors – my mother-in-law wanted me to sit with her and watch soaps on TV…”

“You could have read books at night…”

“Ha Ha – at night – well my husband certainly wasn’t interested in reading books with me in bed…”

“I am sorry – I didn’t mean…”

“The fact is that no one in that house was interested in reading books. You told me about all the libraries in Delhi – browsing in bookstores – visiting book fairs – that Delhi was a paradise for book lovers. But – whenever I tried to go – they would put some obstacle – some “social commitment” would always pop up – either someone was visiting us – or – we were visiting someone – or we were going for some “event” or the other…”

“But – you could have mutually adjusted – you could have talked to your husband. Why the extreme step of divorce…?

“I did not like them ridiculing my reading habit all the time. So – one day – I told my husband – “you can criticize me – but don’t ridicule reading – and – don’t denigrate books and literature…” – but he did not listen – no one showed me any consideration – and they – my ‘in-laws’ and all their relatives – they kept mocking me for my interest in reading books – it was very humiliating…”

“Oh…”

“One evening I had gone for a “book launch” to a famous bookstore – the book was an anthology of short fiction. And – do you know what my husband did…?”

“What did yout husband do…?”

“A famous author was reading out her story from the book – and – we were listening intently. And suddenly – my husband landed up at the bookstore – he barged into the “book launch” – he disrupted the book-reading – and – my husband literally dragged me out of the bookstore saying that his business partners had suddenly decided to come home for dinner – and I was required to be present at home immediately to “host” them for drinks and dinner…”

“Really…”

“It was terrible. My husband shouted at me in front of everyone – he was angry at me that I did not take his call. I told him that I had put my mobile phone on “silent” – and this made him angry. He shouted at me to come home immediately – and he caught my hand and dragged me out of the bookstore. It was so humiliating…”

“You must have felt terrible…” I tried to commiserate with her.

“It did not stop there. At home – my mother-in-law mocked me in front of the guests – she ridiculed my reading habit and denigrated my love for books. And – do you know what my husband did…?”

“What did your husband do…?”

“Instead of supporting me – my husband said that his mother was right – and he said – that I should stop wasting my time reading books and focus on household work. I told him that I was not neglecting my household duties – I did not know that he would bring home surprise visitors for dinner. But – with my mother-in-law instigating him – my husband was in no mood to listen. He once again “ordered” me to stop “wasting my time” reading books and stop all my “literary activities”. He said that he was “banning” books in the house…”

‘Library Girl’ paused for a moment – and then – she said:

“On hearing this – something snapped inside me – and – I decided – “enough is enough”. So – I left my husband’s home the very next morning – and – I haven’t gone back since…”

“I am very sorry to hear all this…” I commiserated with her.

“Hey – why are you feeling sorry…? I am absolutely okay. In fact – over there – in my husband’s home – I was feeling “suffocated” – now – I am feeling much better – after I escaped from that stifling atmosphere…” she said.

“That’s good – so we will see you in the library every Sunday…” I said to her.

“Of course – I will be here every Sunday – in fact – I have decided to do my MA in Literature at the college nearby – so I will be here in the library more often…” she said.

“Wow – that’s great…” I said.

‘Library Girl’ looked at me – and – she said to me:

“Hey – I kept talking about myself all the time. What about you…?”

“I told you I work in a factory – in the auto sector…”

“Are you still a bachelor – or have you got married…?”

“I got married – 6 months ago…” I said.

“Oh – congrats on your marriage – so – where is your wife – why haven’t you brought her to the library…?” she asked me.

I looked at ‘Library Girl’ – and – I said to her:

“My wife hates books…”

On hearing this – ‘Library Girl’ smiled at me – a smile of empathy.

I smiled back at her.

And then – we broke out into laughter.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/04/do-you-like-reading-books.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This blog post is a revised repost of my story MY LIBRARY GIRLFRIEND posted online by me on April 28, 2016 in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/04/my-library-girlfriend-library-girl.html and later at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/04/do-you-like-reading-books.html  https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/library-girl-romance.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/11/library-girl-story-of-girl-who-liked.html

3 Comments »

  1. 1

    Why ask for the address of a “destination” – where it is not desirable for you to go. This line is very true. Love the fiction where books bring two lonely hearts together. An interesting build up that gently touches the patriarchal system as the backdrop of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Engaging tale!

    Glad that they both have a company for their shared passion. And equally happy that the story did not end with Library girl marrying the young lad! Otherwise all the charm would have been lost.

    Anagha recently posted Sifting Sands of Time and Thoughts

    Like


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