Battle of Wills

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06/11/2016 by Siddiqui Fayesal

There was a padlock that harassed him a lot at his library.

The attendant who locked it for the day was always very meticulous about the manner of his locking the door. The door in question lead to the lending section and was located on the first floor landing of the 4 floor library.

He frequented this particular library at least once a week even on the busiest week at work. Having been a member since the past 8 years so, it was safe to say that he was there to stay. He had more than once contemplated becoming a life member but the cost had made him stop. 10k was a lot of money to give away at once. It was costing him around 1k for a yearly membership anyway.

I digress. The padlock! Yes, the padlocked door, actually every door in the library was grand like almost everything at the Institute. It was a heritage structure after all. The door was wooden, just like the chairs and tables in the reading room along with the tables in the reference rooms. Not plywood, mind you. Good, proper, honest, hardworking and real wood. Each table, mostly, seats 6 comfortably and weighs a ton to move around. He knew it because he had helped move a couple of tables last year during the repairs.

The ceiling was leaking water and it had taken an inordinate amount of time getting it fixed. What actually had taken time was the extra permissions and red tape stuff because it is a heritage structure. Nothing happened easily out here without passing authority; by-passing it actually. The trustees of the library were a bunch of Zoroastrians who were known to be stickler to guidelines and rules.

He disagreed on the generalizations of the Zoroastrians. But that has nothing to do with the little story so we’ll pass it up. For now.

Anyway, the padlock in question was a source of constant annoyance to him because it wasn’t left hanging normally around the latch like it should; it was hitched away from the door and left sideways balanced precariously against the metal latch.

What worried him more wasn’t the fact that it wasn’t hung ‘right’ but the fact that there was no apparent reason, none that he could see, for this unexplained behavior of the attendant. He had tried keeping an eye out for the attendant who did it so he could actually ask him, but the reading room was on the 3rd floor, while the annoying padlocked door was on the 1st floor. In retrospect he knew he’d not have the courage to ask the attendant though. Not that it was an incriminating question nor was it a personal one, but he just didn’t want to attract attention to the fact that he knew about the padlock and the possibility of an idiosyncratic/behavioural issue with the attendant.

Why didn’t he just let the padlock hang upon its weight? Why twist it around to keep it away from touching the door? Why go through the extra effort of hitching it up instead of letting it hang naturally?


It irked him to no end. Especially, since he had to see the unnatural lock every night. It was during the time when he was a regular to the library; he was there every day for he was studying for his examination due in a month’s time. Every night at 8 he would walk down the stairway and grumble to himself and right the ‘wrong’ padlock and let it hang naturally. It was a routine of his. He found it to be a part of his schedule to correct the padlock.

It became like a battle of wills between the idiosyncratic attendant and himself. Although, he knew that the was a chance that the attendant who opened the 1st floor door wouldn’t be the same one who locked it the previous night, but he felt he could ignore that in the bigger scheme of things. He told himself in hushed conspiratorial tone that he was fighting a larger battle and he could ignore the small skirmishes for the larger good.

One day he automatically walked towards the door and found that the padlock hung ‘right’ and innocent. It felt like his world fell apart and he found himself drained off of his life’s meaning. He worried for the break in behavior and for the derailment of his schedule. What was worse was that the door was freshly painted and polished. It shone from the ridge of the second floor if one knew where to look. 

He was aghast and mad at the attendant now! All these years when the door was old and pockmarked he made sure that the pendulum movements of the padlock didn’t damage the door (he couldn’t imagine any other conceivable reason for the attendant’s behaviour), and now when the door was sparkling with the veneer polish and basic cleanliness, he lets the padlock hand like an Uvula!!!

He didn’t know why or how to explain his move but it felt important to maintain the balance.

He lifted the lock and hung it over the latch away from the door and walked away feeling considerably lighter. He didn’t care that he was on the other side of the war suddenly.

He walked with pride again; happy to be a part of the battle of righteousness.

Siddiqui F.

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