-Telugu Original by Dr K.Geeta
-English Translation by V.Vijaya Kumar
“I’m sorry, aren’t I late?” I said, gasping heavily, as I walked briskly.
Karuna said, “No worries, I’ve no college today.”
“Libraries here are so exquisite! Racks are free from dust, spacious reading rooms; I love these libraries rather than our at home,” I said.
Lost in thought, Karuna smiled in sleeves nodding head in confirmation.
‘Let’s go and sit there in the corner,’ I proposed.
It’s a two-storeyed public library. They had the custom that they call even the small neighboring metropolia as cities.
Not simply satisfied by naming, they develop these areas with multi-purpose facilities like libraries.
“It’s quite cold outside, Phew! It’s warm here in the library,” I said.
The thing is AC’s work here in libraries, tuned with the outside climate.
We both occupied the reclining chairs in a corner at the non-fiction section, which we both like. Though everyone is visible from there in the hall, these two chairs seem detached in a special wing.
There we see people working quietly with their laptops, a few skimming pages of books, and others browsing on free computers provided in the library.
“Hmm…Speak, Karuna,” I said.
“I can’t understand what to answer him” after saying it
Karuna is lost in her thoughts.
Even after the one-hour episodic narration, I am at a loss for words.
“Lo! look, that one…” showing someone to me, she got up hastily and vanished in bookshelves.
Passing away by me, he smiled customarily in a most familiar American style.
He’s looking very shrewd with six feet tall, muscular built, sharp eyes, unfaded smile.
His countenance seems not to fade away from me even after getting back home. I saw him only once, yet, it’s difficult for me to forget, what about Karuna?
I can’t remember any such person who made an indelible reminiscence of the face in the recent past.
The sky is parading with dark clouds outside and not giving the slightest sign of its shoot down when it starts, seemingly enigmatic.
It’s a winter evening. Even by 5 o’clock, darkness crept in everywhere with an air of melancholy.
By mealtime, it started pouring down rapidly. Funnily, it rains in winter here. It’s already cold season, and the rain adds more bitterness.
I drenched outside and started shivering.
“Oh! How could that poor lad!” I just shook off my head. Either the words of Karuna or thoughts about him not leaving me away.
I want to share everything with Surya so that a solution may come up.
I called twice, ” Surya!” moving Nidhi a bit aside, who is sleeping close to me.
There’s no reply from the man working in the front room on the computer.
Rose and looked out. It seems he is having a serious conversation with somebody, and the earbuds are tucked in. He didn’t turn at me, at least.
I got back and opened the mailbox, and started to mail Surya.
The morning episode again-
What Karuna detailed-
I allowed my thoughts freely. All his words recalled from the beginning…
“His name is Benerjee, Sarva Daman Banerjee”
When I’m a bit surprised, She looked at my face and said smilingly, “Nope, I name him simply like that, as he looks that way. That’s it!” Karuna said.
Karuna came here to pursue her MS. I got acquainted with her in the library.
She, too, has an interest in literature. When I’m searching for Tolstoy around the racks, the Tolstoy in her hands guided me.
“Forget about Benerjee’s original name for a while; I’d love to talk something about him,” said Karuna.
I bent forward interestingly.
“I met him here in this library like you. That day a special yoga class was going on. An American woman was demonstrating a few important Asanas. Visitors watch standing back row. He and I were the only Indians standing in the visitors’ row.
The small hall was already filled. Soon two people got inside. I made way for them to come in, leaving the hall. He followed me!
“May I know where from?” I asked him.
Staggering a bit, watching at me for a fraction of a second, and getting back to his quiet smile said, “From here, Or beyond the earth?
“Of course, from here and there too-” I said.
“If it is here, It’s Los Altos, and from another side, It’s Nepal,” He said smiling.
“It’s quite normal to anyone taking me Indian; indeed, we’re Bengalis, living in Nepal,” He said.
“I’m from here, from there Hyderabad” before I finished saying, he said, “I know.”
“How?” watching the curiosity on my disposition, he said,
“I know Hyderabad well, and I had few friends during my study period,” He said.
“Here…?” I just hinted at a question.
“An Economics graduate, I come to this library three days a week without missing a beat,” He said.
“…The interaction between us started in that way, three days a week, and continued for four months…Nope…Revolving around there itself,” Karuna heaved a sigh.
“I observed; he’s a bit reserved, never converse unless it’s a must or takes advantage.
A regular visitor there in the library, a pretty smile and a brief talk…No advances further.”
I mailed him recently.
A minimal brief response from him.
Last week he didn’t come here. Recalling that he attends Los Altos library another three days, I went there.
I’m a bit more attentive, lending my ears.
“I looked around the library thoroughly. He’s nowhere. I rushed out, blaming myself, and got into my car” She took a deep breath.
Then…?! I am really on the verge of impatience.
“Stop there, Priya, there’s no suspense in this story, what you’re looking for,” She said, looking vacantly.
“That guy is sleeping peacefully reclining backward next to my car.”
“So what!” I said, staring at her usually.
“I didn’t look at his car in a hurry, getting into the library! Imagine how that scrap is?
Just a patch of Stepney wheels assemblage, outrightly an outmoded one!
Carton boxes filled in the rear seat. I’m confused; I ran out of there,” She said, gasping.
I didn’t make out what she meant.
“I mailed him that night that I had seen in the car!”
A lengthy reply dashed out surprisingly.
I’m afraid, reading it for misunderstandings if any would be there!
Priya! Imagine what the issue is?
“His spine was badly injured five years ago in an accident, and could hardly work for a while anywhere, and he couldn’t go back to India as his parents would be disappointed who wanted him to see as an employee supporting them. Moreover, he is presently doing no job in particular, and trials were going on for two years after recovering his health. The recession killed all his chances, and so he became homeless. He spent the whole time either in libraries or in his car. As the winter is dreadful, he asked a favor to provide shelter to escape from the deadly freezing! That’s what he sent in the mail.”
“My head reeled… Might have asked many others too,” She added.
“What about his Visa…?”
“They’re Nepalese, and they come with Green cards.” She said.
“Means of survival like…Food etc.? Perhaps the Government may provide any unemployment allowance, and there are community centers! may a shelter be difficult to have, but not for food in this country!” She added.
“Hope there will be homeless shelters…” I suggestively commented.
“His application is on perusal.”
Many families were thrown to the streets in the Recession.
It doesn’t mean that they couldn’t make both ends meet.
We witnessed many pathetic conditions prevail during that time across the United States. Who bought houses on bank loans, couldn’t pay the mortgages, and couldn’t bear the rents, shifted their families to cars.
It’s pretty dreadful to think about a family with three older children who suffered for six months. We watch on the internet.
Karuna passed a remark, “What’s the meaning of it? After all, in a country like America, renowned as the first in the world, could not provide a roof on the needy head?
She continued, “I’m a paying guest to someone; how can I make sure of it to others?”
True! People like us, who hardly make a living, can’t show solutions to others.
The evening on that day, I said it in the library with Karuna.
“Tell him that. Karuna! No immigrants like us will not dare to risk their positions, taking such kind of responsibility! He knows pretty well, and He will not take it wrongly. Mail him and get back to your studies.” I said.
“Priya, I can’t help it! When I go to sleep, I dream of him shivering with cold. Yet, I’m helpless! It’s excruciating, You know?”
How could I say that the face of him was reminiscent of the whole night even to me?!
A post graduate in English literature and language and in Economics. A few of my translations were published. I translated the poems of Dr. Andesri , Denchanala, Ayila Saida Chary and Urmila from Telugu to English. I write articles and reviews to magazines and news papers. To the field of poetry I am rather a new face.