I decided to go to Pilgrims Books House today and talk to the owner about last Thursday’s fire at Thamel. The fire that turned thousands of books into ashes and smokes. A friend tagged along with me because I asked him to take photographs.
As we entered familiar streets of Thamel, many thoughts ran across my mind. The pungent smell of charring and images of burnt books lying in the side of a street from last Friday. The memory of some few months or years back with a friend as she pointed me to my favourite author’s book and I gave her a sheepish smile. I remember taking the last sniff of the book before I left the store.
But now, the bookshop is left in ruins. And its owner, Mr. Ramananda Tiwari in trauma. Although he talks about impermanence and being strong, he is shaken by the whole incident. He talks about the bookshop as if he has lost a baby. And while he becomes nostalgic about the past remembering people visiting the place, moisture forms in his eyes.
Later, as we sit in a cafe talking, suddenly the rain started pouring heavily. We stayed silent observing the rain and then broke into other conversations, about literature, books, religion and philosophy. Each one of us (we were 4) shared personal experiences and events ranging from Shiva-Tandava in Pashupatinath during evenings to certainty of death. The drainage of the cafe must have been blocked because the rain-water now became a pool deep enough to reach the knees. And after few hours of sharing, laughter and discussions, Mr. Tiwari thanked the rain.
“I’m so grateful for the rain right now” he said, “because of it, I could spend an evening with young people like you and for a while forget about the accident.”
I smiled back at him keeping to myself that I too was grateful. I felt different, rejuvenated after almost a week or more. Probably thanks to the rain or thanks to the man in front of me who was still mourning from a loss but was happy to share his knowledge and experience with 3 young book-lovers.