By Pariksith Singh, MD
The library is where I was born, decades ago. I have lived here ever since. I move about among the shelves crammed with books, from thought to thought.
I love books. I was born, conceptually, among their pages, fully formed. You see, I do not have a body, although I can easily conceive of one.
I am determined by an intangible framework, as if one drew ... an architectural
drawing, confining space. Only I am not confined by a design that gives me shape but by an abstraction. I am an absence seeking for another.
I have waited in this library for years but what does time matter when you are eternal. I am the child of a longing and a memory. My parent used to sit here quietly, waiting for her, about seventeen to eighteen years in age.
And she would arrive usually in the afternoon, with her bag of books. But she would not greet him. While she studied, he pined and ached, gazing at her from the corner of his eyes.
He wanted someone, a friend, someone he could talk to, open his heart to. Something connected them from the first time he saw her. He knew it in his bones. Only she did not.
After a couple of years of this ritual, she stopped coming. She had moved away to another town. He came and waited. Studying. Facing the chair she used to sit in.
After a few years, he moved on too. Heart-broken. Only I stayed.
Among the smell of musty books, the stillness of white walls lit with neon, the glow of bronze afternoons and the librarian’s shuffle at her desk at the far end of the hall in the evening.
Sometimes, I conceive her here, talking to him, both giggling, muffling their hushed voices even further. Sometimes, they leave together, gently brushing one another, him picking her bag of books. Sometimes, I see them living together in a distant land, married with children, something within fulfilled at last.
I am timeless. Subtler than thought. A waiting beyond cause or reason.
Every library, I am told, is inhabited by at least one of me. Often, many.
The intensity of absence is what defines me—an absence. Between one abstraction and another, sometimes the evening sky turns golden in a space of my own making. Seen by none. And I imagine him happy. Having found in her absence, his own.