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Rupam Mozumder



Rupam Mozumder


The Woman And The Book

The Woman And The Book

7 mins 21K 7 mins 21K

I still remember the day I saw her. It was a Tuesday evening in the public library I used to go in college days. There was always a problem with me. I keep my life to myself and try not to interact with people without a proper reason. I always see the worst in people. The way they walk, they talk to others or their facial expressions. I feel as though I hate each and every living being. But she was different. I couldn’t think of any reason to hate her persona and that made me angry and attracted towards her at the same time.

She was sitting opposite to the librarian in a small wooden chair near the big flower vase. She was not someone you could call pretty or beautiful. I guess the word I could use to define her character, is ‘elegant’. She was wearing a red colored Saree with black spots in it. A pair of small earrings and a chain with a love locket were the only jewelry she was wearing. She was not wearing any bangles and may be it was for the first time I was looking at a woman of her age wearing a Saree but without bangles in this part of the country. Her hair was dark and silky and there was an unusual calmness in her face that made her character absolutely unreadable. There was a yellowish book in her one hand and a purse in the other. The way she was holding the book I got a chance to look at the cover of it. It was a painting of a man walking in the rain and I don’t know why but it looked familiar.  The woman had thin pair of lips without any trace of lipsticks on but she kept biting them for no reason, may be just to keep the color pink forever.

The librarian knew me very well. He was a friend of my father and I was a member of the library for more than a couple of years. He smiled at me and asked whether I am going to take my usual stuff (that was crime fiction) or I would like to try something new. My attention was totally into the woman and her book. I returned my last book and asked the man to bring me the one she was holding.

“Do you know what the book is about?”- she suddenly asked me.

Her voice was as smooth as I predicted- gentle, sweet and low pitched. Just the kind of voices I like listen to.

“No! I don’t know what the book is about neither I’ve ever heard of it. I just loved the way how gently you are holding it in your beautiful hands and the yellowish color of it complimenting your hands so perfectly. The cover looks so familiar. I don’t know why but I think I could see you through the book, I could touch you, I could feel you.   That’s the only reason I want it. That’s the reason I want to read it. I have a feeling that through reading the book I could actually read you know you… ” – that’s what I wanted to tell her at that moment but all I did was a nod.

I finally got a chance to look at the book and I was quite sure I had never heard of it though the cover still looked as familiar as it looked before but I couldn’t figure out where I’ve seen it. I wanted to stay there as long as possible but I had some undone works to do at home. So I thanked the librarian and walked away from the place after giving a last glance at her. All that time I was in there I hardly caught her looking at me. Either she was looking at the book or to that big old blue flower vase. Even when I was leaving the place I was craving for an eye contact but she didn’t look at me. At the time I reached home all I was thinking was about her and the book. I was dying to read it because I had a vague feeling that herself and all her secrets were buried inside the book and through it I would get to know her completely.

It took me only 3 days to finish the 400 pages. I had classes, my piano lessons and some office works of my Dad which I had to finish in a certain time. But I managed to finish it as early as possible. I was sleepless, hungry and more importantly curious not only about that woman but also about the book. It was a love story, more specifically it was about unrequited love. I felt a deep unknown connection with the protagonist that I couldn’t explain. He was more like me than anyone else. His introvert nature, love for music even the emptiness, everything he’d done in his life was exactly like mine. I didn’t know whether it was a coincidence or something else but even the way the woman he was in love with was described in the book  was quite like the woman I saw that day in the library.

The moment I finished the book I went to the library. I was convinced she would be there in that same wooden chair looking at that vase wearing that red Saree. I rushed into that old rusted gate and quickly ran through the grassed pavement. I opened the door and walked inside calmly. I didn’t want the librarian to know about any of this craziness. I returned the book after looking at the cover for the last time and quickly looked at the wooden chair. It was empty. She was not there. I looked at the other places but she was nowhere. I didn’t loose my hope. I looked at my watch. It was not very late, actually it was quite early to be in a library. I took a Stephen King novel and started reading or pretending to read. The librarian was writing something in his note book and didn’t get suspicious. I kept looking at the door, expecting to be opened by her. It remained closed for more than an hour.

“People don’t often come at this time of the day”.- The librarian said smiling at me.

I didn’t reply. I still had hope. All that happened in these last three days couldn’t be just coincidence. I didn’t actually believe in such thing as coincidence.

It started raining outside. The clock was ticking and then a fear took over me. She wouldn’t come. Why would she? Who was she? What was she doing in here at that day. I had been coming to this library for more than two years now but I hadn’t seen her like ever. I stood up and went quickly to the librarian. I mumbled for a second but then managed to ask about the woman. The librarian didn’t understand what I was saying. Then I asked about the book and then he remembered.

“She was the writer of this book”- He said calmly with that gentle smile on his face. “Didn’t you know her? she said she knew who were you after you left the place.”

I was stunned. What was the meaning of all this? I didn’t continue the conversation further. I borrowed the book once again. The wooden chair was still there and I looked at it for the last time.

“It’s raining. Don’t go now dear. Wait here!” – The librarian cried.

I didn’t listen to his request and left the place in a hurry. I crossed the road and took that short path near the river. It was heavily raining. I was walking like I didn’t even care.

I stopped. Suddenly a thought came to my mind. I quickly took out the book from the bag I was carrying. I looked at the cover.

“It was a man walking in the rain with a book in his hand.”

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