This venture – of recounting six enduring memories (no matter how pointless or irrelevant) to you has had its fair share of hiccups. Not only have I been unable to find an appropriate fourth memory despite offering a wide palette of recollections to you a few days ago (in a desperate venture to play for time, I must admit), I happened to forget the fifth I wanted to present to you, a couple of days ago. The entire last two days (Tuesday, Oct 12 and Wednesday, Oct 13- which happens to be my off day too) , I kept on trying to dredge it out but utterly failed….. Obviously, my memory is giving up on me. And just as today (Thursday, Oct 14), I had resigned myself to letting it go, it unexpectedly popped out in its full splendour with one short visual on TV I managed to catch, serving as the trigger.
So, now, what I now propose to do, is it to keep in abeyance the fourth incident, and jump over to the fifth, before I happen to forget it again (or the sixth, for that matter). And this despite both the chosen incidents being comparatively recent incidents (one over the last two, max three months and the second, of the closing day of the last month, which again happened to be my off day and expectedly spent carousing around town but of that later).
So, here comes episode No 5, which is again a small, seemingly inconsequential happening most of us (well, not Me obviously… I was speaking in a broad sense) would not even take note of us, leave remember.
As I might have told in the accounts here of my roaming across the city in search of books, I happen to frequent a number of places, depending whether I am on the track of English or Urdu books. These presently include two or three in the city centre (though one particular, much frequented establishment shut up shop in the period I was away from Delhi – a happening which has caused my great sorrow), various showrooms of publishers near the Delhi-6 area and one more in an quite snobbish area of the city. It is the last-mentioned which forms the backdrop for this tale.
As I have earlier told you, this particulae establishment has a most annoying habit – of shutting down for an hour for lunch between 14 and 15 hours, creating a major problem for me since I have to be in office by the latter hour and it is difficult to wait the hour – though I have done once under great compulsion. However, the point I wish to make is that the occasions I have had the opportunity to get to the place in time to allow me a decent amount of time to browse and find something, I have had the task of doing something that would allow me to expend the period till it was decent time to leave for office (unless those few occasions, when I saw something I liked but rushed pell-mell to my time-tested supplier in the city centre to get it at a rebate and then realised I had scant time to get to the office unless I used an autorickshaw).
But as usual, my ingeunity knew no bounds and I devised several creative ways of wasting time (S., you were right. I do belong to the WTO (Time Wasters Organisation, as known by its French name)). I will not tax your patience, dear readers, with acquainting you with these methods, save to say that one of these involved a visit (walking very slowly) to the nearest off-license to stock up on necessities for the night. And as it transpired, there was one nearby, run by the state organisation.
(And now I come to the point) There was an official there. In his sober attire, his stern demanour, his glasses, he seemed every inch the proper official and everytime I went he was busy with a set of rather daunting looking (I would even say, fearsome) column of figures. And humming the same well known Hindi song of the 1960s, or to be exact the same lines from that song:
Tere mere dil ka, tai tha ik din milna
Jaise bahaar aane par, tai hai phool ka khilna
O mere Jeevan saathi…
I would have put it once to chance, that he heard the song somewhere and it lingered on and suddenly burst out, but when it happened again, and again, and yet again, it stuck in my mind as to its sheer incongruity. I cannot even conceive this as a song someone would sing while doing the accounts, or tallying the inventory, or the sales or whatever those fearsome looking figures were. But it did happen, and I have seen (and heard) the quite unvelievable scene four times myself.
By the way, for those who failed to identify the song, I will tell you it is the poignant “Tere Mere Sapne” from the 1965 film Guide, starring Dev Anand and the lovely Waheeda Rehman.
To be continued…