The Library Girl by Viswapriya L. Iyengar
"The Library Girl" is a short story written by the Indian authoress Viswapriya L. Iyengar. This story is set in a Muslim area and community referred to as a basti in the story. It is a third-person narrative written in an easy-going prose style. In the story, the main character is a young muslim girl Talat who has a great love for reading. It explores how first her education is put on hold and then finally how her identity as Talat is dissolved into another nameless, bound woman in a burqa after she wears it for the first time on reaching adolescence.
The story begins with the scene of Talat running towards the local library. In the opening lines itself she is depicted as running in a ghagra implying that this is a time in her life when she hasn't been introduced to the bondage of wearing a burqa yet. In this scene, her journey to the library, it is apparent that she is very familiar with all the people she encounters on the way and knows details of their daily lives, suggesting that this is an activity she does daily. To support that assumption further the line "Zahir and Ali called Talat the 'library girl' just as many others in the basti did. They flocked to secret corners watching her go and return." (Paragraph III) shows how her frequency of visiting the library had earned her the name 'The Library Girl'.
Then we encounter Karim Baba, who owned a clock shop and who used to see Talat go to the library. Watching Talat's evident delight on her way to the library he thinks to himself a thought which towards the end of the story turns out to be crucial and true albeit in a slightly ironical way. He thinks to himself with great sadness "Some buds would never blossom in this basti. Eventually there was never enough sunshine and the soil was too cold." This thought in just a couple of lines summarizes the attitude of the conservative muslim community in the basti to which Talat belonged to.
Then as the story...