A brief moment of recognition, and contentment

It is obvious your life is stuck in a rut when the first though in your mind when you force yourself to wake up is how you can survive the day, and if that can be accomplished some way, then how to make it little palatable. All you can do is to take solace in the old phrase “This too shall pass” and hope whoever coined it knew what he was talking about…. some information about his later life would also not be amiss to see how it turned out ultimately.

However, it is these grey days, where you feel alienated from everyone, when all those you have cared for have all become distant, when nothing seems worthwhile and all is tactics with strategy relegated to the background, it is then any kind word, or an attempt to contact by someone you only have a nodding acquaintance is an event that imbues that particular day with some significance, even if events later in the day turn out to be unwelcome.

It may seem strange that I am concentrating on one brief incident which most would not retain in their consciousness for long, but then I am certainly not one of the many and in the words of Lt Dand McNeill (the autobiographical figure of the gifted George McDonald Fraser’s army life in a Highland Regiment as rendered in the splendid McAuslan trilogy) –

“Forgive me for describing it, but in a life that has had its share of pursed lips, censorious glances, and downright abuse and condemnation, there haven’t been many moments like that one.”  

Well for me, it would not rise to that level but it did come close.It happened, it occurred day before yesterday (Friday, the 17 of December 2010) and I planned to write about it that day only, and failing that, the next day but unfortunately got no time and I may say I also wanted to know if I felt the same about it a day or two after. I do and I shall remedy my delay now.

It happened to me in a bookshop, I used to frequent occasionally but have visiting quite frequently now, despite the need to be thrifty before my coming journey. But as those who know me well will attest – my parents best of all – that I am a softy as far as books are concerned. But lets not digress…

As I reached the place this Friday and anxiously scanned the racks quickly – given the time constraints which I have explained many times earlier and will not repeat here – for any volume that seemed promising, I found one on the right side which has the sections on history, one having some promising thrillers including period/regional whodunits among other attractions – and where I have found several bargains in the past – the latest being the Shevchenko book and the Dr Siri series. I then moved to the left where I keep a watch on travelogues as well as some more recent fiction. It was as I moved there in the nyumber of circumlocutions I make during my every visit to the establishment that I did hear that pleasant – I would describe as fruity and rich and resembling one of my most admired people – voice saying: “I thought before the year was out I would get your name. I have seen you so frequently here.” I turned around as I realised these words were addressed to me.

It was one of the owners – while I had seen the individual around the place, we had never had any interaction, unlike the other, a tall moustachied gentleman (funny…. but the description could also fit one of the my oldest book-providers) with which I had exchanged some smiles of recognition sometimes when our paths crossed. However, as we introduced ourselves, the individual mentioned that I seemed to be an avid reader and possessed with a fast speed – both of whichwere spot on-  and recounted my oft-told tale of forsaking sleep whenever there was a good book in my hand…. After a few more pleasantries in which the individual expressed pleasure at meeting at such a “loyal customer”, we parted – I returning to my task.

Well, as I said, it was a small interaction and could be construed as not very significant, but as I say it is these things, these instances of recognition, that add pleasure to life and make it worth living….. I can recount some more instances – what one autorickshaw driver told me, the comments of some owners of commercial establishments I patronise and so on. It is ultimately about being recognised and remembered by the ones we deal with – and for me its a family tradition for three generations now – and that is the most important thing we should strive for in our lives – well at least the way I see it……


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