Library of Olan – by Prashant Parvataneni

by TBLM

Library of Olan

The Library of Olan
turned upside down
when bombs of tear gas
were thrown into its dusty rooms.

The intention was to smoke out
those who refused to leave
their obsession of biting into tomes,
and licking the pages of ancient erotica.

To fill the library with tears,
interrupt their exile with words,
dampen the pleasures of marginalia,
and corrupt the humor of books.

It is now a historical fact,
that the opposite happened.

Books were now read
with eyes full of tears.
Words became mistier,
sentences danced like waves,
even scientific manuals
carried the depth of rivers.

When the news went out,
people in large numbers
began migrating to Olan,
queuing up outside the Library,
to experience this altered state of emotion.

Inside the Library,
one could sense at every turn of phrase,
the entire weight of dialectical philosophy.
The most basic comedies were laced
with a tinge of melancholia.

Under the influence of artificial tears
sentimental lyrics turned fraudulent.
The longing to cry out of will
and not force, mirrored
the tragedy of star-crossed lovers.

In a state of deferred catharsis,
Aristotle’s plot came undone –
readers abandoned causal routes
to wander in bylanes
of unimportant scenes,
and look for characters
without arcs.

In the middle of a story,
when people looked up
to exchange glances,
they silently compared
the moistness of their hearts,
and measured the intimate distance
between their feet.

All the signboards were gone,
strict instructions suspended –
the Library kept sinking
deeper and deeper
into Silence.

Today, if you visit
the Library of Olan,
you’ll find carpets marked
with traces of footsteps
and bookshelves that didn’t rot,
despite being so damp
for so many years.

Today, if you turn
the pages of any book,
you will find your fingers
running over printed words,
but also, over patterns
of fallen tears.

***