The Marshmallow Test

A library is like a womb, a place that defies the laws of science and takes you to places within seconds.

One of the most beautiful and calm place in this world is a library. The peaceful silence, the smell of books and the pleasure you get from the confusion of thinking hard on which book to read, makes it the most comfortable place too.

In weekends, from morning till evening if you sit in the library you will find that time runs faster inside here than outside. A library is like a womb, a place that defies the laws of science and takes you to places within seconds.

One Sunday, I was reading “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”. Savoring it like an energizing Kashmiri Tea. I am not a member in that library; I can’t take books home and I was worried I might not be able to find it there next Sunday. I wanted to finish of that book then and there as it is the only copy and I didn’t want to cut the flow.

Am not talking about the physical appearance or the presence of a malevolent carnal desire, am talking about the phenomenon, the concept.

But then, I saw her; she came and sat opposite to me, in her light blue dress. Normally the color of a girl’s dress won’t matter for her to be attractive. But a girl in blue, they have something that will start as a burning in your gut and end up as a trance in your heart. I felt it like a planned conspiracy,. Someone could have sent her as a distraction on purpose, to get that book from me. I was determined to finish that book then and there and I tried to dive in to the gripping pages. I used to enjoy the book and knew I can finish it off in one sitting. But I couldn’t, my own eyes, without my notice was running away from the book to the girl. 
There are no cosmetics, no software or anything humanly possible in this world to make a girl so beautiful. Am not talking about the physical appearance or the presence of a malevolent carnal desire, am talking about the phenomenon, the concept. Imagine a girl in that light blue dress sitting by the window of a library. The beauty of a girl heightens when she is reading a book. Nothing can beat the beauty of such a girl, with her eyes, running through the letters, immersed in the book. And she lost in the world of imagination. Not worrying about anything .Slowly curling a flock of hair with her fingers. That is one of the most beautiful scenes in this world.
It’s still a mystery for me that how, when someone is looking at you for long and you can feel it. You will turn and you know who is looking at you. It is like the sixth sense no matter how busy or engaged we are we can sense it. She had a very sharp sixth sense.
She looked at me, our eyes met; I was expecting a feminist reaction of showing frustration against an aggressive stare. I wasn’t “staring “at her, even though it might have looked like staring I was respectfully admiring her. Staring and admiring looks same but are different. She knew that, she was intelligent enough to differentiate between staring and admiring.
She smiled a gracious smile that can melt you, lift your spirit and make your day. I smiled back and I felt it, it was from my heart, it’s been long time since I have smiled like that.

I am not that good in starting a conversation. I need some time to learn the person. But with her it was simple. I just had to write it down. I am against the concept of whispering in a library. I mean that is the most sinful crime you can do to your fellow readers. Those who murmur in the library must be hanged till death.
I took a paper out of my notebook and I was thinking of a conversation starter. I cannot make it look like am thinking hard or cannot take much of time. So I quickly jotted down
“Can I plug my laptop charger in your socket?” I wrote down, as my lap top started to scream silently at me for some charge. The moment I passed that paper to her, I realized the mistake. A terrible mistake, it sounds like a passive aggressive harassing comment. 
She read the paper, her eyebrows middle together. She was confused, she looked at me. Normally I would have acted like “what’s wrong?”. But with her I couldn’t act she is intelligent enough to find that out. I smiled and I turned my laptop screen to her which now was silently screaming at her for help.
She smiled and mouthed “sorry”. I took the paper from her and wrote, “its OK”.
She removed her lap top charger and let me use the socket. I felt like my laptop was happily thanking me. I thought it must thank her. 
“Thank you for saving my life…
Regards,
Battery” I wrote and gave her.
“It’s my duty” She wrote.
We had a silent laugh. It was beautiful, that moment. She also didn’t like to whisper in a library. We both preferred instant letters. 
The next weekend, she was there at that same spot. She invited me to join her, no words, that smile was enough. This became a routine. Hour’s days and months passed, without exchange of a single word from our mouth. Silent exchange, of instant letters alone was the mode of communication we had.

Silent exchange, of instant letters alone was the mode of communication we had.

“Can I get your mobile number?” I wrote one day.
“ Do you want to be a normal loser or a unique winner ?” she wrote back
“Unique winner..But how?”
“Marshmallow test” That was her answer. A famous experiment in which the winner will get rewarded for delayed gratification.
“Duration?” 
“15 days”
“Reward?” 
“Not sure what exactly it would be. But let us name it ‘A happy life’”
“Agreed”
The pact was not to meet each other for another 15 days. The one who tries to meet first will be the loser. And the relationship will move forward as the loser decides. Which is frightening, as both of us won’t be happy with a life that loser want to follow.
She will be on the same floor, but different section. We both have to spend time in that library knowing that the person we long to see is here, but can’t meet. She will come to library by 9:30 and I went by 10:30. And will never enter each other’s section. We planned well to minimize the chances on meeting.

From that day onwards, minutes were hours, hours were days and days were years. It was easy in the start but then it was tough. Each time I looked at her handwriting, each time I looked at the window, each time I smelled her perfume I wanted to see her.

It’s strong when you are not just two bodies living together but two souls far apart and will get stronger like wine with passage of time.

Ten such days have passed and it was the Eleventh day, I decided to fail in the test. No matter what the punishment will be. I wanted to see her.
I thought of it for long but then I decided to do it. I walked past the book shelves. I could see the door to her section, “Academics” adjacent to the “Fiction” section where I was sitting.
Then I saw her, she was entering my section. Our eyes met. We both were losers.
“ so… we both lost “She has this voice that will take you in to an un known world, that only a melodious song can take you.
“Yes we both have lost “I told her.
“What to do now?”
“We are even so.. The result is void” I tried to console her.
“I feel like a normal loser” she said
“We are normal losers” I agreed
“ I never wanted to be one normal loser” I could see concern in her eyes.
“Me neither” I showed her my concern.
“Help me… Help Us,,, can you come up with a solution?” She asked.
“Taking the result in to consideration, we both can be together. Get married. Have kids, get older and die” I looked in to her eyes. She was listening, she knew there is more.
“Or…”I continued “Or we can..”I was bit hesitant to tell her what was there in my mind.
“Or we can end it, turn it off and be Unique winners” She interfered and completed the sentence.
“Yes .. Never meet again.. and enjoy this mysterious thrill ..Lifelong”..I told.
“good Bye” She smiled and walk away.
“Good bye”… I was smiling..Right now even when am writing this down I can’t help it, I don’t know why, but am smiling. I can still feel that burn in my gut and trance in my heart. And the best part is that it’s not going to fade away. It only gets stronger for love, what we believed was an ecstatic feeling. It’s strong when you are not just two bodies living together but two souls far apart and will get stronger like wine with passage of time.
I never met her again, even if we both plan and walk in to that library with a motive to meet. I am sure …we are sure the omniscient presence of love that is spilling from our heart won’t let us. It’s not destiny. Its love that is simple and sweet as a marshmallow.

_Arjun Adat