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Presence and Absence
November 20, 2017

This we Have Now

by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

My presence has been to be absent from Bookworm for the past month and as I look back on the month, I realise that this poem by Rumi which really talks about enlightenment / awakening of the spiritual self on one hand was my awakening of our work at Bookworm on the other.

It is not my imagination but rather the reality that while I was gone, Bookworm grew. It grew in strength and diversity. The team at Bookworm spread their wings , really spread them and flew. Literally.

Eight team members went on an intense visit, seven day visit to the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement schools in Sargur and Hossahali, doing upto two workshops every day with teachers, teachers in training, students and working directly in the library. They returned worn out and overwhelmed but perhaps knitted together in a way that only intense experiences of togetherness can foster. I draw on the fact that this can only be to Bookworm’s strength.

Thousands of books were refreshed at the library in preparation for the next term at school and data entry, cataloging and analysis of reading was attempted, not in a judging state but in seeking to understand.

Another three team members went to Bangalore to participate in Kathavana, Azim Premji University Children’s Literature Festival.

An incredible act of support from Dr Mrs Aurora Couto towards the Alban Couto Library Program took off to significant momentum. We realise how loved and respected Alban Couto was and how much faith Aurora has in Bookworm that she has contributed a significant corpus to the ACLP, this is the presence that doesn’t as Rumi says.

The Library Educator’s Course batch closed successfully because of the close watch of many and the standards of work that we sought to hold were sustained for the past 10 months without me .

In verses from the poem not as popular, Rumi writes

It’s dawn, Husam, here in the splendor of coral,

inside the Friend, the simple truth of what Hallaj said.

What else could human beings want?

When grapes turn to wine, they’re wanting this.

When the nightsky pours by, it’s really a crowd of beggars,

and they all want some of this!
This that we are now created the body, cell by cell,

like bees building a honeycomb.

The human body and the universe grew from this,

not this from the universe and the human body.

I am reminded of the friendship Rumi had with Shams, perhaps the friendship he refers to in the line ‘ inside the Friend’  and I know of the friendships that enable Bookworm to grow the way it does. Some of my senior colleagues took on immense responsibilities in my absence and showed me that what Bookworm wants, Bookworm has, the potential and the vision to grow. New team members were hired, straying team members were shepherded and visitors and library members were welcomed, encouraged. Here is the splendour of coral, indeed.

I find that I grow from this, the universe that is our  library,  our LiS program, our MOP program and our Professional Development program and it is good.

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