You sell magic dont you. and you sell dreams. and you sell imagination. and you sell them at a rate which everyone can afford.
My earliest memories of Bombay was coming to Chitappa’s house and then going with Appa to King’s Circle to browse through the second hand book stands. Most of you were so so helpful and some of you were friends with Appa thanks to his regular visits. You would recommend books and you would recommend which books were in demand and which werent.
Each book of yours told a story. A story not only written by the author but also a story on who had the book before you. Sometimes, the unwritten story was more interesting than the written story.
I remember being elated by the prices at which you would sell Wodehouse novels. While in the book store they would charge Rs. 150 for a new copy, you would sell it to Appa and me for about Rs.25. Looking at my eager face you would even give us a discount if we bought more than two.
You have encouraged generations of readers by keeping your fares low. You buy books irrespective of caste creed or religion, irrespective of authors and irrespective of genres. I doubt if we can ever find old and new books, romance and mystery, thrillers and philosophy at such rates apart from a central library.
I used to be astonished on how you would know the where exactly each book was placed and take it out in a jiffy when we asked for it. I would love to browse through your collection of comics and one of you even smiled at me indulgently despite knowing that I was trying to finish off a Tinkle before Appa made his choice.
You have given me immense happiness in your own small way. I was over the moon when Appa got the book ‘Naughtiest girl becomes a monitor’. I searched for it in so many places but it was you people who came to rescue. It still remains one of my favorite books.
Appa would buy so many different novels from you every time we came to Bombay. Visit to you guys used to be the highpoint of my trip.
Ironically, I dont visit you people any more.Most of you are either too far or I dont have enough time 😦
Thats so sad.
One of my dreams is to spend some time with you people with my daughter in tow. I want to expose her to the same joy and give her the same fun as my Appa gave to me. I want to spend time browsing through the novels wondering which one to select while she quickly tries to complete that one story in that comic 🙂
I want her to know how signficant you have been in my upbringing.
Thank you for being there.
PS – this post was inspired by Sudhagee’s post on the second hand book shop. Go on read it, it is fantastic and reminds me of some nice poet putting her words in prose.