The smell of old books floated in the air. She stood there, inhaling the thick air that filled her thoughts with nostalgia. The room was locked for over three months, awaiting her arrival. Her grandfather’s will demanded that the key to his library could be handed over only to his only grand-daughter. For, in the family of business tycoons, she was the only child who loved literature.
Like her grandfather, her paa who had majored in English and had scripted many popular plays and prose, she dreamt of becoming a popular author. However she was still struggling with a couple of her work under print. They were critically acclaimed but never popular.
Now that she was there, she re-lived many years that she had lived in this house, away from her parents to be groomed into a sensible young lady at the convent she attended. She stepped ahead and felt the arms of rocking chair and recalled when she would wait for him to settle down in that chair so she could wrap herself around his legs and not leave till her demands were met. The strong mahogany wood table, reminded her of her duty to arrange things up on that table. She felt the leather back of his chair, where he would sit through the long evenings, furiously typing away a novel or immersed in his thoughts while he created a plot. A half typed page on the type-writer, a tick sound when she pressed a key reminded her of how this would be the only voice in the room while she finished her homework.
She then saw that smaller chair and table, made for her to sit and study, while paa worked. It was this place that introduced her to fairy tales and horror stories. At this very table, she learnt about Jesus and stories of Ram and Buddha. Although, she learnt her subjects in her school, this was the place which gave her the world of her dreams of being a writer and made her who she was. It was at this table where paa told her about his will and she had innocently asked, “Will these books will be divided too?” He told her that she will know eventually.
Standing there she remembered the day when she had to move out of the house for her graduation. Just over there, she had hugged paa from behind and cried. She promised to come back in holidays and he laughed. He held her hand and pulled her to face him. He then asked to promise that whenever she returns, she will finish the pending piece of work. She thought he was mocking and said, “Paa, you have never let me read any till they get published, how will you let me work?” Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, “When you come back, I will be able to trust your ability to write.”
Fifteen years, yes that’s the time she took to return back. Every holiday, she planned and postponed. Sometimes it was for summer school, then internship. Eventually it turned into excuses like too short breaks to travel, then family, marriage, kids, holidays with them, etc. Today she understood, why paa laughed when she said that she will be back soon.
She saw on the table, all her books were lined up. She picked and opened one. Corrections were made, appreciations were written, and comments were scribbled with a pencil on almost every page. Each was dated differently, as if the book had been re-read several times.
She opened the first drawer. There kept his unfinished book and a note. A biography of their lives, which he had left for her to complete.
The book was later published as her first non-fiction, a bestseller and an award winner.
Based on Write Tribe Wednesday prompt - the smell of old books