There was a perfect silence in the air… The breeze was hard and the weather was harsh. The air was blowing hard on the vacuumed spaces. The military base was filled with mourners who had nothing to talk but wait. The helicopter landed on the air field base… The soldiers took positions and the anxious faces waited for the last glimpse… And then the casket was rolled over… Underneath the deep silence and veiled mourning, there was girl who was waiting to see her fiancée for one last time…
 
The partition of British India into India & Pakistan occurred with one of the largest migration of human moments on the planet where millions of people lost their properties, livestock, family, friends & relatives all in the name of single horror… Religion!
 
Rahim Hidayatullah’s family has lived on the money earned over their farm lands & livestock for generations in Kotli (present day’s disputed territory of Kashmir between India & Pakistan). And it was time for them to decide once for all to stay in India or Pakistan… Rahim has little choice of choosing India or Pakistan and so he decided to seek the asylum offered by the UK and go to England… He reached England to seek a new life and live a life that is more honorable and dignified even if he has to face severe difficulties… He was 13… He lost his entire family during the migration and all he had was to live life for him… He did a good number of odd jobs before taking up a role of a helper in a library. The public library was owned by an elderly person called Abraham Rodriguez who was in his early 80s. He was a kind and a gentle man and all he had was his library and his old age… He started depending heavily on Rahim for his day to day affairs as all he had was only Rahim. He liked Rahim’s gentle nature and he always loved the long conversations on varied books, writers and historic topics, day to day affairs. This bonding helped them to come close where Rahim saw Abraham as a father figure and all Abram had in his old age was Rahim. And one day, Abraham passed away in his sleep.
 
It was only later that Rahim comes to know that Abraham had a family in France but were killed during the holocaust and he left the library and his house for Rahim. So Rahim continued to run the library as a legacy to Abraham and started to spend more time in knowing journalism… 5 years passed… Rahim has started to run meat shops along side the library. It was during these days, he came across Salma in the public library. She was a short stout girl who limped over a little while she walked. The initial days went away in eye contacts alone. 2 years passed by and still there has been no progress in the way both looked at each other but they were sure off one thing… They were in love… One fine day Rahim took courage and asked her if she could tell where is from… The answer was a elegant grin from her… Krishnan was a bookworm who used visit the library and over the years Rahim had a strong bond with him which resulted in a friendship that lasted for a lifetime. He noticed the fact that this could not work if Rahim and Salma would keep staring at each other and so he decided to help each other but by then he was transferred to Public Works department in Australia… Krishnan placed a letter in the book that Rahim lent Salma in the library and he left for a good.
 
2 years passed by, Rahim and Salma were married and had a son named Shauqat Ali… To this day, Rahim contributed his friend Krishnan for his great act of help!
 
10 years passed by… Unlike his father, Ali was a second generation Brit and he had more of British views than from a British Indian view… Rahim started getting engaged more and more towards Islam and its teachings through his friends. He had a perfect view of what the religion was and he loved his religion as every Muslim did… Years passed by and Ali grew into a handsome young boy of 25 years. But Rahim had his share of trouble with his son as he was more westernized than his father… He moved to the United States and joined the armed forces which was against his father’s wishes and succeeded in what he wanted much to the embarrassment of Rahim. He differed on several opinions with his father and the worst was the fact he choose a bride himself… Nisha was a 3rd generation Hindu girl who was more outspoken and Ali loved her unconditionally… Ali went against his father’s opinions and eventually married her, which soon resulted in the end of ties between him and his father… When Ali got married, Nisha was pregnant with their child…
 
5 years passed by and Ali became a decorated military man… He had a son who made him remember the fact that Ali missed his father Rahim & most dearly his mother… Days passed by and he named his son Kabir Prasad.
1990, United States of America unleashed Operation Desert Shield and this eventually broke out into a full fledged gulf war. Ali was deputed to Kuwait for the operation and initial days passed by tension and turmoil. In early days of 1991, he received the news that his mother has passed away due to her extended illness. This news drew a thunderbolt on him as she was only contact with him during the course of years and it is through him, he used to know about his father… Emotions ran high and he decided to call it a day once when the war was over and return back to his father…
 
Rahim spent his sleepless nights in London looking around for every piece of news about the gulf war… Days passed by and he came across a news that shook him forever… The BBC news reported:
“During a fierce gun battle with the Iraqi armed forces, 3 officers were killed and 9 soldiers were injured. This is one of the biggest attacks on the US base in Kuwait. The deceased officers are Capt. John Merchant, Capt. Henry Rawlings & Capt. Shauqat Ali”
 
For a moment it just took the breath away from Rahim. He was speechless and he was broken. He was destroyed and all he could remember was Ali as a child, his youthful days and his revolting days against his son… He closed his eyes and tears rolled over his cheeks… He decided to trace Nisha and his grandson Kabir in order to provide all the stability and support to care of them… He met Nisha and begged her to return with him to London… She obliged as she too didn’t have anywhere else to go… Days passed by and Rahim was able to get over the horror that he had gone through and decided not to force Kabir anytime so that he might not leave him anytime… He viewed his grandson as his everything and the happy days of Rahim were finally coming back…
1999, Nisha’s life grew darker with every passing day as she never came out or recovered ever since Ali’s demise… She helped Rahim to cater his large library, restaurants and meat shops… Days passed by and Nisha’s health started to succumb and doctors reported her mental illness along with her liver failure as causes for her failing health conditions. She passed away after battling for life close to 90 days in King George Hospital, London. 8 months passed by, Kabir turned 18…
 
Rahim decided to help Kabir to know the world that he much used to live with in joy and happiness and decided to throw a party for his friends and inform the world that he is going groom his grandson as his future heir to his businesses… The party happened, Kabir appeared a happy man and he was coming out his trauma of missing his mom… Now all he had was his grandfather… And he loved him for everything… Rahim as a toast of joy during the party asks Kabir what he wants to be…
 
“I want to join military…”
 
The answer shook the very thought of Rahim and old health was taking a toll on his body and the emotions ran high… He decided this time not to stop Kabir as he didn’t want to loose him as he lost Ali… Taking courage and gathering strength he said,
 
“I am an old man now and I don’t have much of necessities in life to live with… All I have now is only you… My greatest request to you is, please consider me and return back home…”
 
Kabir said, “Dada… I know that you lost your son and every one besides you over the course of years… But I have dream… A dream to serve my father and his legacy… I promise you that I will be in military for 10 years from now and will leave it as promised to stay with you… Please consider me?”
 
Though Rahim’s heart was reluctant to let him go, he decided against his will & wanted his grandson’s happiness to any of his personal gains… He agreed…
 
Over the course of the next 2 years, Kabir met a girl named Banu with whom he fell in love… Rahim accepted the fact that Kabir is old enough to make his own decisions as he feared that if he stood over his path, he might leave like his son Ali… Banu was more vocal about Kabir’s choices and she gradually reduced the pain in Kabir’s heart and brought infinite happiness in his life… They were so much in love…
 
Then the day came for his departure…
 
2001, Kabir got recruited in the military academy and with in months of joining the military academy, America was attacked… Days passed by as Kabir waited to get a glimpse of what war was all about…
 
Rahim spent every moment of his life waiting for the 10 years to end in order to see the days where his grandson lived happily and he dying in peace… Kabir visited for 10 – 15 days every six months which was a refreshing factor in Rahim’s life… Days passed, months passed and Kabir’s dream came true… He was finally recruited to be sent to Afghanistan…
 
2006, Kabir reached Afghanistan and he continued to stay in touch with his Rahim while fighting insurgency…
 
2009, Kabir’s 3 year long campaign was coming to an end and he was to be replaced along with his troops with a new battalion… And as promised to his dada, he promised to call it day when he returned to London… Rahim’s joy knew no bounds… He was eagerly waiting for the day when he would see his Kabir…
 
Kabir was all set to return the next day from Afghanistan before a bomb exploded in the NATO United forces base camp which resulted in the most horrifying incident in Rahim’s life… Hope left him, but his spirit hasn’t… He along with Banu waited for the casket to arrive and finally when it arrived, Rahim’s old age didn’t let him to cry heavily as he was unable to walk 10 full meters with ease… The grief in his heart was much heavier than ever… He was at loss of words. He felt the life given to him by God was undeserving… He felt the pain deep down to his soul…
Banu was unable to capitalize the heart ache she suffered and couldn’t resist the pain she went through… She was engaged to Kabir 3 years ago… Today, to her Kabir is only in her memories…
1 year passed by and Banu started to get along with her friends and she was coming out of trauma… Her parents decided to seek an alliance with a rich Dubai based businessman and Rahim convinced her that she had to get along with her life and she cannot linger on her past…
4 months passed, On a Monday morning, Rahim opened the library which was the only thing that was with him throughout his troubled life… He opened the door and walked towards his counter… He saw a boy who could have been 12 or 13 years old… He wore a coat that was torn but looked elegant, his hair was ruffled but his face was gracious, he smelled sweat but his eyes were sharp… He walked to Rahim,
 
“Sir, can I please get job here? I studied in a school until I was 10 years old before it was bombed… I don’t have place to go as parents were killed in the war… I came here on asylum of the British Government… I would be of great help to you if you could give me a part time job here”
 
“What’s your name? Where are you from?”
 
“I am Shiva Shankar… I am from Sri Lanka”
 
Rahim smiled and patted on the boy’s back gently with his shivering hands…
 
“Go and get me the brown bonded book from the 1C Shelf“
 
The boy with great enthusiasm ran towards the section to get the book. He took the book out the shelf and opened it to get a glimpse of the title before he handed over the book to Rahim.
It read,
“The Librarian”
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8 thoughts on “The Librarian

  1. ganesh really i'm proud of you. life is a circle.i believe. the way you narrated the story is good.how can you get this wonderful idea. after a long time i read a good story which makes me to realize the inner feeling of the life. best wishes and god bless you my dear.mom & dad.

  2. With a beginning like “There was a perfect silence in the air… ” I had to keep reading. I was in tears by the end. Great story!

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