The room’s a cozy corner placed in the strangest way possible. Open the door and the world right in front you, but the room is still pulled back into the far end of the plot.
Overhead my neighbors feet thunder and scatter as he realizes he’s late for work again. A kid whines and implores this parent to look at something. I imagine he pulls at his fathers shirt as autos ignore them. My UPS screams as if annoyed at having being woken, and the window sequels as I close it. The chair squeaks as I turn to the left and reopen it.
After a session of charging at howling vikings and dodging the metallic rings of swirling scimitars I hear curious footsteps and then a quick shuffle. I realize the door has been ajar for the enter day and the swaying branches having been singing as they always do. Lazy scooters buzz past as the housewives get a move on before the mid day sun catches them. I forget about the footsteps as the windows theme announces its shutting down.
Light dew floats by when I return that evening. My neighbors’ wife seems to be talking to someone on her balcony. Proof of her existence is always rare. I prepare for my french viva as the neighborhood fills with the sound of cricket balls flying, stone wickets failing to stay upright, and uncles offering helpful tips. My monitor buzzes monotonously and more fights about the score ring out as more childish voices appear.
Thunder rings out but the voices don’t care. I step out and listen to the dirt between my feet and earth scrape. I wonder if there is some ancient part of us that loves to be reminded that in a world that sees so far, that dirt still scrapes lightly beneath moving feet.
The heat of the mid-day sun seemed to have seeped into the basement where we pawed through book, our fingers getting dirtier by the minute.
We were done with our practicals early and being unwilling to head home or brave the heat we choose to stay in college. A friend mentioned that old books where stored away in the basement, awaiting disposal, and when he mentioned that these books were as free as air, I sighed and realized I’d have major back pain by the time I got home. I pushed my laptop around and made room while we spiraled down the stairs.I couldn’t help but hope we’d find something extraordinary.
I had known about the pile before, but back then I imagined it was this secret stash meant to stay hidden in the basement. The basement is a cold,dark area that burrows under the science block. Quite a few people label it “shady” and find themselves peering uncomfortably into the dark trying to figure out if they’re alone down there. The last time I visited the pile, I had stuck my hands through dusty metal grills older than me and looked at attendance registers from the fifties. The basement is meant for staff only, so looking through names from the last century in a dusty,dark corner was rather thrilling.
But now I knew that I could take those books away. The pile had diminished considerably and had transformed into a scattered dump of books. The basement was damp, made me sweat and rather disappointingly wasn’t as dark as it was the last time I was there.My friends and I set about hopping over and going through the books. I didn’t see any registers and most of what we came across were old science textbooks (no wonder they were being thrown away). They were all hardbound and quite a few were more older than all our ages combined.
My finger grew dusty as I dug up book, books that never seemed to get any cleaner no matter how I tried. I picked up 3 magazines- the first called mainstream, (complaining that everything is too mainstream is a running joke in my circle of friends), a torn up copy of a magazine whose name seemed impossible to figure out, and another that demanded Modi resign all the way back in 2002. The laughs that it cause was worth the trip down here. I also picked up two ancient books on sociology. One had the name of my friend Deb on it, I texted him asking him if he was a time traveler. He explained that his fetish for social equality gave him super-powers. I also found a almanac from 1963 that was probably owned by a racist -the sections on Africa and the middle east were torn out.
I wish I had raided the pile before anyone else had gotten to it, but I can’t say I’m unhappy with my loot. I would have taken a lot more if I could have, maybe some of those issue from the 79 volumes on Gandhi’s sayings…