Zahir walked up to Emma.
“Hey I am back! What’s up? When did you return?”, he noticed that A Cup of Coffee was placed between them.
Emma looked up and gave a faint smile.
“All good. I came yesterday.”, she said softly
“Hey! What’s wrong? You seem dull.”
“I’d rather not talk about it now. I feel so low.”
“Speak up. You might feel better. What is it?”
She paused and looked at Zahir, teary eyed.
“I was at Arya’s place.”
“Oh! I know. You were dying to go to her place right? What happened now?”
“The first day after I reached her place, she was reading. I was getting all cozy and comfortable. I could easily sync with her like no other when suddenly, we heard a crash. She stopped reading and went to check what was wrong. I heard some quarrel and it began to get nasty. I didn’t know what to do.”
She began to sob like a child and Zahir awkwardly put an arm around her.
“Shh… it’s okay. You need not say if it’s making you uncomfortable okay?”, he said in a soft voice.
She took some deep breaths and continued, “Her father dragged her and threw her into the room. He said something that sounded like no one speaks when he does and if they do, the consequences will be brutal. He locked the door from outside and walked away. After a few seconds, the quarrel resumed with intermittent sound of flesh on flesh.”
“Yes. I saw her later. Swollen eyes, bleeding lips, her cheeks were red.”
“What did Arya do?”
“That is what hurt me the most. Nothing. She sat there listening to all the noise. She didn’t speak anything at all after that. Dropped me off here and left.”
Silent tears streamed down Emma’s face and she looked lost.
“It will turn out to be fine, Emma.”
“Perhaps, yes. But what happens to the child? By the sound of it, she has been going through this for a long while. I’ll will her to take me in again. I want to know what happens to them.”
Suddenly, Abhijit walked in and Zahir looked at him, with a twinkle in his eyes.
Emma watched him and said, “I know you want to go. Just go.”
“No. Not when you are in this state.”
“I’m alright. Just grieving for the girl. You should go. Remember, you choose him.”
He looked at Abhijit and then at Emma, “Alright! Listen to me. Next time, you pick Arya and get it over with it. Else, you won’t feel peaceful ever again.”
Saying so, Zahir closed his eyes and worked his magic. Soon enough Abhijit was by his side and the two left.
Hours and days flew by. Many people came and went. Emma didn’t bother. She was concerned about Arya.
She heard Brida whining at times, “I have been stalking Rahul. But nothing happens.”
The Host replied, “Oh! I think that is working. The other day I was in Vijay’s house. He is Rahul’s friend. I heard Rahul say that he kept bumping into you and he felt as though you both were meant to be. He was planning on meeting you soon.”
“Oh come on! You always make fun of me. I have been trying to find him for the last six months. There are more powerful, smart and attractive ones around, why would he even pick me?”
“I am not kidding. Just wait & you will know.”
Emma smiled. She used to stalk people like this once. But she now knew that there was more to a person than his smartness. She waited.
Vijay had opened a beer bottle. Rahul was rummaging through Vijay’s book stand.
“Hey! You have Brida! Fantastico! How is it?”, Rahul was flipping through the book.
“Didn’t read. Got it as a gift. Doesn’t interest me”
“I don’t know. This is the 6th time this week I am coming across this book at the unlikeliest of places. Once I saw a guy reading this at the urinal.”
“The point is, I have heard that, the books choose us. May be it is a sign. A sign for me to read Brida next.
“Ghosh! You believe in this crap huh? You can take it if you want.”
“Oh! Wait, my cousin asked for it.”
“No problem. Pass me the beer now.”
On the bed, ‘The Host’ lay opened, face down, listening to every word they said.
Arya walked into the library and Emma felt it. She looked up at her and willed Arya to pick her. It wasn’t necessary. Arya was determined to finish her unfinished reading business. She kept Emma in her bag and left. On the way, her phone rang,
“Hellooo” it was someone she liked.
“Yes. I am leaving the library.”
“Oh is it? Alright. I’ll wait here.”
She cut the call. Emma waited with Arya. A few minutes passed and someone walked up to Arya.
Damn these leather bags. Emma thought to herself.
“Hey! Is everything fine?”, it was a male voice.
“Yes. My mother signed the divorce petition yesterday. ”
“Awesome! I am happy for you. You both in fact. You are going to be free!”
“Yes. Finally! By the way, I took the book. That day, after I saw it in your house, I again saw it in the bus. I felt you were right Rahul. The book choose us and so, I had to come back and get it.”
“In that case, I need to get one too. Wait here. I’ll be back soon.”
Emma smiled for the first time in many days. She had been in that library for two years and she spent her time with many readers. She never really tried to understand them much. Depending upon what other books said, she decided whom to choose next. Sometimes she decided based on the conversations readers had in the library. But never once she faced a situation like in Arya’s house. She felt that there was more to people than what met her eyes. This incident had made her wiser and she was ready to face anything that came her way.
“Hey! Let’s go!”, Rahul was back.
Emma wished she could see Brida’s happiness. One day, she would narrate this story to Zahir and also to Over A Cup of Coffee.🙂