I feel that nothing beats the charm of the scent/smell of old books stacked over dusty shelves in a library and the sheer joy of reading such books cannot be quantified in the era of digital media. I am participating in the Wednesday Prompt, ‘The best scent: The smell of old books’ on writetribe.com. Today, I have weaved a short story and hope you like it.
Falling in love over the ‘smell of old books’
Rohan fingers forayed through the dusty shelf at the old colonial library in the city as his hand touched the dusty book that was laid to rest for ages. The sensory touch on the book struck a chord in his heart that it gotta be this one that he should read. There was something about this old book and his sixth sense told him, ‘C’mon, pick it up.” For once, he followed his heart and held the book in his hand.
He took a detour in the library and walked back to the array of shelves to peek at some books. The old and dusty books is drawing him towards them and he peered through the books lying on the shelf. Rohan saw a very beautiful girl, draped in white Salwar searching frantically for books. He smiled to himself, “At least, I am not the only one who swear by the old and dusty books dating back to two decades.”
As Rohan was on the point to strike a conversation with the fair girl dressed in white Salwar Kameez, somebody called out to her, “Anjali! Anjali! What do you lose your time in this boring library. Today, we have what apps and Kindle. Babe! You still live in stone age.” Anjali smiled, “For you, e-books work but for me, nothing beats the joy of getting my hands dirty by holding the books that gathered dust over time. It’s pure joy and you can never understand.” The other girl seemed to lose patience and walked away, “Okie! I am going to meet my boyfriend and once you are done, buzz me.”
Rohan was bugged by the name Anjali and thought, “Her name and voice sound familiar. Oh! Lord! I can’t remember where I’ve seen her and it seems like we know each very well. But, I can’t remember.” He racked his brain for while and tried to remember who is she. Someone touched him on his shoulder and he was jolted for a while as if some electric waves has been sent down his spine.
She smiled and offered a handshake, “Hi! I am Anjali. It seems like we are the only souls in the world of books.”
He nodded, “I am Rohan. I love reading old books and prefer to be faraway from the digital books.”
She patted him on the shoulder, “I think we will connect with each other as we are like peas in a pod.”
“Do you mind if I ask you for coffee and discuss about books?”
“Cool! It sounds like a great idea. After all, nothing beats bonding over coffee and discussing about books.”
They walked towards the other side of the road to the coffee shop and discussed Tolstoy, Ramayana, history of the world, Shakespeare and Jane Eyre.
Anjali quips, “You know, I can’t remember where I’ve seen you but your face and voice tells me something familiar.”
Rohan couldn’t believe it, “Now, don’t tell me we know each other. When your friend called for you in the library, I was thinking the same. But, where have we met? I just can’t remember.”
They spoke about their schools, love for books and colleges they attend. During their conversation, they found that they studied in a school at the hill station.
“Wait! wait! wait!,” Anjali started laughing frantically.
She added, “Now! I remember. We studied in the school together in the school in Shimla.”
“Oh! No! But, how do we know each other?” he asked.
“Your Dad is in the army, Rohan. Try to remember and my Dad worked in the estate. Our parents were accompanying us to the old book store and we would sit outside and read literature together. We played together when our parents were having a smoke in the garden. Remember, we played husband and wife,” she laughed mischievously.
“What the fuck?” Rohan was crestfallen.
“You are Anjali Thakur.”
“You are Rohan Kapoor.”
She looked at him with a tinge of sadness, “Then, one day you just disappeared and I sat in the library alone, looking for you and secretly wished that you will pop out of nowhere.”
Rohan smiled, “I was sent to boarding school but always thought about you.”
Anjali said, “Mr Rohan! I gotta make you pay for it and your crime is you left without saying bye to me. Everyday, you will accompany me to the library and we shall read together.”
Two years later, Rohan married Anjali and they still sit in the drawing room reading old and dusty books for each other. They still have the books that played cupid for them and nothing beats the old world charm of falling in love over dusty books. Rohan and Anjali are not on what apps and kindle, neither do they buy books from Amazon, despite mounting pressure from tech savvy friends.