Sunday, September 8, 2013

Letters to a Book-lover, 5 September, 2013


Dear Book-lover,

I have not seen you before but deep inside, I know who you are. I know what you're doing when you're standing at that book-shelf, peering at the gentle bumps of the spines. When you stretch out your arm, I wonder which book it will eventually touch. As your fingers approach the books, my body tingles with anticipation.

Top shelf, right hand corner. You're almost there. But in one fluid movement, your arm drops. My eyes, I'm afraid, were not where yours were. And out you pull a blue hard-back. I know which one it is. My breath catches in my throat audibly. You look up but I look away, hurriedly.

Stay cool, I tell myself, pretend to look at these books.
I run my hand across the shelf I'm at. I don't know which one to pick. I pull out an old volume at random. "Gitanjali" it says, translated by William Radice. I look out from the corner of my eye- you're still there; you're still turned towards me. I have no choice but to open the book in hand.

Are you still looking at me?
Will you take that book?
Will you fall in love with the people in it the way I did?
Will you be gentle and not judge them?

I read what I'm looking at. My heart is hammering.
My head is filled with the vision of you and my eyes begin to drink these words-

"Tear me, oh tear me-
    there isn't much time.
That I might fall, be shed to the dust-
    fear of this starts to climb.
I know not if in your garland
    this flower will find a seat;
But let at least the wounds you inflict 
    be in its fate."

I can feel my blood singing it to you. I want you to hear it. I want to say to you-

"Tear me, oh tear me
    before it's too late."

I look up. But you're gone.

Until I see you again,