Friday, 9 September 2011

The Little Bookstore

I'm no one to give a bookstore review, I hardly buy books. I spend more of my time in libraries than bookstores. That's probably why this Little Bookstore attracted me, with all it's moth eaten second hand books.

I've been there a few times, not really to buy anything but just to be among books that were owned by other people and often have tiny snapshots of those people within their pages. Some have just the date written on the first page them in ageing ink, some have a whole passage. Some have pages with the crease of an earmark. Some have underlined words and their meanings diligently written on top. Some have study notes in them, others have personal scribbles. Every book is a treasure trove in which you often find little stories of the anonymous.

So I trotted along to the tiny little store just to look around and smell that old-book smell. As I read the worn out spines, the owner kept handing me romance novels. I suppose a lot of college girls buy cheap romance novels from this guy. I laughed and declined. To appear a little more serious, I asked him if he has a copy of Hamlet. Hamlet? He went on to pile on his table every classic he could fine. Those books were gorgeous, I would have bought all of them if I could. I kept wondering why anyone could throw them away, but of course I was glad they did.

As I bargained my price I looked around and honestly, I just wanted to stay in that little corner surrounded by those books forever. I fingered the spine of a Winnie The Pooh, I leafed through the pages of a Huckleberry Finn, I even fell in love with this moth-eaten copy of Asterix and The Cauldron that looked exactly like something I'd find in Eloor (the ancient library where I first began to devour Asterix comics). I wanted them all.

I think the store owner figured me out pretty quickly, because the next thing I knew, he was getting me a glass of chai and piling book after book into my arms. He shoved a stack of bookmarks in my hand to give away in College. He tried to chat me up with stories of Kerala and the Delhi Book Fair and someone from Malayala Manorama that bought a ton of books from him. He said something about getting me a whole stack of Asterix comics. He went on to give me a free thesaurus. I took it, I don't even know why.

But that's where things got a little strange. This man, for some strange reason gives me a book, written by some Indian writer I'd never heard of. He raises his eyebrows and asks me to read the back. I skim through a few sentences and look at him quizzically.
"Did you read it?"
"Yes. What's wrong?"
"No, read it. Then you'll see."
I read the back again a little bit more carefully. All I read was '..her moist..'. and I freaked out.
"WHAT?"
"You like?"
"No! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Okay, okay. You don't like. Tell your friends okay?"

I stormed out of the shop, all those romantic old-book thoughts left in a muddy puddle at my feet. Was that man trying to sell me erotic fiction after I had bought Pride and Prejudice and Antony and Cleopatra? My cheeks were flushed and I got on a rickshaw as fast as I could to find refuge in under-eighteen-friendly Costa Coffee.

Maybe I'll take Diya and go back, just for the heck of it. Maybe I'll even slap that old pervert. Or kick him in the shin. Yes, that is bound to hurt. *beams*

8 comments:

  1. kind of a funny happening - love your passion.

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  2. 1. It is possible you were mistaken. 2. Pride and Prejudice and Antony and Cleopatra readers might like erotica too. 3. Thank god you got out of there before things turned unpleasant. Enjoyed the read. Keep writing.

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    Replies
    1. Shubhorup,

      I'm sure there are tons of people who like erotica and the classics. It just came as a rude shock because I was romanticizing the entire experience and didn't expect things to take that turn. That was more embarrassing than the erotica.

      Thanks for reading! :)

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  3. Weird store keeper..Nice post by the way..I'm having almost similar kind of passion for classics as you do..:-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's always pleasant to go back to the classics, don't you think?

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  4. enjoyed the read...
    nice post, i hardly buy books :D will spend much time on facts :D
    -Dee..

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