“Did he came, mom?” Gracy asked while resting her exhausted body on the sofa. She lives with her mother and works in a law farm. Mom fetched a glass of water for Gracy, sat beside her and said “yes he came. He travelled a long, a really long distance to return that overdue book to me.”
Mom lowered her eyes. Gracy was looking at her with calm eyes. Then she said “really? Please tell me mom how it happened. I want to listen from the beginning.”
Mom’s face lit up with the glow of thousand bulbs. She began the story “it was a normal and usual day in the library. I loved my job of a librarian. I loved being surrounded with books. So one such day I was busy with my visitors when my boss called me on intercom and said “Emily, there’s a boy standing at the end row from last one hour. I have been watching him in the CCTV camera. Can you just go and have a look? May be he needs some assistance?”
I walked to the end of the library where we had the photography and travel books section. There he was standing alone and nervous. I went near him and said “hello sir. Are you searching any particular book? You can tell me. I am the librarian. I can help you.” He didn’t look at me. His eyes were on the ground. I managed some time to notice him carefully. He was thin but not skinny. Fair with dark hair and Latin features. His age may be more or less 25. He was wearing a very plain shirt, jeans and black shoes.
I asked him again “sir what do you want? You can ask me.”
He looked up at me and said with gloomy eyes “I want to travel the world but I don’t know from where to start.”
I smiled and said “don’t worry sir. I am here to help you.” I took out a picture book with famous places to visit around the world and gave it to him. I said “this book can be of great help. Just go through it and decide from where you will begin your voyage.”
I asked him sit and relax. He seemed glad and his Latin accent made him look cuter.
After that I got busy with my routine work. Half an hour later he came up to me and said “thank you mam. This book is amazing. It has a huge collection of wonderful pictures. I have decided that I will start my journey from India. Can you help me out with any book related to India?”
I said “sure I will. There are many books related to India. Come with me I’ll show you. You can yourself choose whichever book you want.”
Boss called me on intercom again and enquired about the boy. I told him everything.
That day he issued four books and left the library with great joy. Ten days later when I entered the library in the morning, I found him sitting at the reception looking much composed on contrary to that day. As soon as he saw me he jumped up from his seat and said “thank you so much mam. Only because of you I am going to begin a new journey. Very soon my childhood dream will come true.”
I replied “you are most welcome sir. I am glad that you found a direction to begin with. So when are you leaving for India?”
He returned the books and replied me “next week. But once I come back I will see you. Once again I will need your help for my second destination.”
I could clearly see the light of excitement on his face. I was really very happy for him. I don’t know why I grew a feeling of empathy for him. I didn’t even knew his name or from where he comes from, his family or anything. I was in confusion about the reason of my contentment and happiness. Whether it was because I helped him or my contribution was helpful for him or because he was able to achieve his goal because of me or I was just genuinely happy because he was happy.
So what happened next was, I missed him, then I missed him badly and then I was thinking about him all the time. In between all these madness one moth flew away quickly.
Then one fine morning I saw him sitting in the reception. He was a changed man now. He was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, sunglass and a cap. He looked more than handsome. He walked with me to my seat and said “even if I thank you hundreds of times it will be still nothing to what you did for me.” I was stealing looks from him that day. I don’t know what was exactly wrong with me. He took out a folded sheet of paper, looked here and there and gave it to me with a smile. He said “please go home and read it. Whatever your decision will be, I will agree with that.”
I took the paper and immediately moved it inside my bag.
“What was written on the paper mom? Did you read it?” Gracy asked in astonishment.
“Yes I read it in my room closing all the doors and windows.”
The mother and daughter burst out laughing.
“What has he written?” asked Gracy.
“First of all he thanked me for my help and he was very much obliged. And he wanted to meet me at some other place apart from library.” Emily said.
“Oh! Wow Mom!! Was he asking you to come for a date? Did you meet him? What happened next?” Gracy asked with excitement.
Emily smiled and said “yes I went to see him on a Sunday. He had brought some gifts for me from India as a token of gratitude for my help. His name was Marco. He was a native from South America. His dream was to travel the world. This was all he told me about him.”
Next morning he issued some books related to the rest of the Asian countries he wanted to visit. Wherever he went he never forgot to send me postcards of that place. I was eventually falling in love with him knowing the fact that his love and passion was only travelling and nothing else.
“He must be very rich. Isn’t it mom?” Gracy asked.
“Maybe honey. I don’t know. I never asked and he never told.” replied Emily.
He disappeared for many months but whenever he returned the very first day he visited the library to meet me. He never forgot to bring gifts for me. But whatever I felt for him, I never felt any such emotion from his behalf. He was crazy about travelling. He was honest and innocent as a person but he was weird about expressing his emotions or rather he had no emotions for anything or anyone else other than his passion.
I still remember that day; a couple of years have passed in the meantime, he showed up in the library. And he was very enthusiastic that day. He was on the brink of completing his mission. He was about to complete his final destination PARIS.
He issued 6 books that day out of which he returned 4 books a week later and requested me to renew the dates for the rest 2 books. I did as said. Weeks turned into months and months into years. He sent me a postcard from Paris that was 6 months back. The books I renewed later remained over due. My boss used to shout on me all the time for getting emotionally attached with visitors and cheated by them later on. Somewhere deep inside my heart I knew Marco was not a fraud. He will never cheat me. Definitely he was in some sort of problem or under some unavoidable scenario. But this was not an excuse which can be told to a boss. My job was at stake. I had to pay off the price of those two books from my salary. This was the least my boss considered for me. I had a strong belief that one day Marco will return those overdue books. One day he will come to see me and he will tell me everything about his Paris trip.
Years passed. I got married to your father. You were born two years later. Have you heard “Out of sight is out of mind”? Marco vanished from my mind but not completely from my heart.
Just a week before my retirement, I was working late one night. Some fresh stock of books arrived in the evening and I had to look after the whole thing. Not only that I had to train the new librarian too. My boss too took retirement a year back. Now his son has taken over the library’s responsibility. That night only four people were working late; me, the new librarian Rita, our peon jack and my boss’s son Nicholas. Nicholas left at 11:30 pm. Before leaving he gave me the keys of his cabin if in any case we needed anything and asked me to lock the room afterwards. The work was almost done and we were packing up to leave. I went to Nicholas’s room to lock it. The moment I turned off the light I saw in the computer screen on the fourth camera, someone’s standing at the end row of the library. I locked the room and hurried down to that place. But there was no one. I got scared. The day I joined this library many people talked about ghosts and all but that never sacred me until tonight. I clearly saw someone standing. Perhaps I am old now and my eyesight had weakened too. I was walking back and suddenly I heard a voice calling my name very spookily which apparently gave me chills “Emily…… Emily…..”
I turned back and freaked out. Marco was standing right in front of me staring at me with his dreamy eyes. But what’s wrong with him? He looks like a thin sheet of white paper. I stood still at the same place. I somehow gathered courage and said “Marco what are you doing here? Where were you all these years?”
He said “Emily I am sorry I came to return you those overdue books.”
I was about to say something when Rita called me from behind “mam to whom are you talking with?”
I turned back to Rita and then turned to Marco. But there was no sign of Marco.
Next morning I received a parcel and a letter addressed to me from Paris. Sender’s name was written Jonathan. I couldn’t recall anyone by this name. Then I opened the letter. I knew that hand writing. And yes it was written by Marco. He apologized for late submission of the overdue books at first. Then he wrote about his Paris tour and how thankful he was to me. Then he wrote about his marriage with a French girl and Jonathan’s birth. Then I came to know about his ailment. He was suffering from cancer. I felt pity for him. Tears rolled down my wrinkled chins.
I hurriedly opened the parcel and there were those two overdue books. A smile played on my lips. There was a phone number on the parcel. I gave a call without wasting a single second.
“Hello……” I said.
“Yes whom do you want to speak?” a male voice very close To Marco’s said.
“I want to talk to Marco. I am calling from Texas. I am Emily. I received the parcel today so I thought …..” I said.
“Emily mam, the librarian yes I have sent you the parcel. I’m his son. My father asked me to apologize on his behalf for the late submission.” Jonathan said.
“I read about his ill health. How’s he now? Can I talk to him?” I said getting nervous.
“I am very sorry Emily mam. My father Marco expired just a day before yesterday. I am sorry.”
The receiver fell from my hand and I collapsed on my chair.