Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Book Seller

Have you ever been alone on a deserted railway platform? Railway platform of small towns always turn desolated by midnight. Flickering tube lights along with gushes of cold wind build a creepy ambience. Well, I am still lucky for having not faced such a situation till now. However I remember one night when I was at such a railway station, and that night might have turned into a haunting for me. Thanks to unexpected arrival of my train on time, and thanks to a book seller I met there.

I was there alone, at Haripur railway station. Nobody was there around except few mendicants in deep sleep, and few dogs that appeared as if they were not alive. I sighed. I looked at my watch; it said it was almost ten at night. My train was scheduled to arrive by 11:10 pm. I once again looked around, trying to find someone that should appear to me alive. I noticed a man near a stall. And he was actually moving. I hauled my luggage and moved towards him. When I reached there, I found that it was a railway book stall, and the man was certainly its owner.

“Welcome sir! Welcome to my book stall. Have a sit and you may look for the book to please you the best. I have all sorts of books”. He kept saying. I figured out that he was actually preparing to close his stall, but as I arrived there he postponed it; welcomed me warmly. 
“I have my train at 11:10 pm; I thought to have something to read”, I said to him smiling. His eyes shown light, and joy to have a customer at that off hour.
“Surely sir! Have a look at these. I have exhibited most popular and worth reading books here at show”, he added. “Have you read this novel by Robin Sharma? I enjoyed it a lot; I know you will too. I have one more, which is also no less than the best; I bought it three days ago only. It’s written by Sneha Ruwail. Though this is her first novel, but you will enjoy more than what you may had from books by CB”. He kept throwing his words to help me buy a good book.
“CB ?”, I gestured in interrogative.
“Sir CB stands for Chetan Bhagat”, he replied and smiled. He didn’t end there; he kept introducing me with books, and followed a short summary about their contents. Finally when he ended, and waited for me to make a decision, I asked him that he seems to have read all the books which were there at show. He laughed. 

“Yes I have sir, I have read them all; I read them here when I am free”.
“That means you are selling second hand books then?”, I queried. He laughed again, more happiness in his laugh this time; I smiled in return.
“You are educated, and as you say that you have read all of these books, then you are not just educated but possess knowledge that more than just educated ones hold”, I said. “Why do you own a small book stall? You can do much better than you are doing here with this small stall”, I kept querying. He kept listening. And with a little pause, he started.
“Sir I used to own a large book store near Dharmputra road, beside University. I always wished to own a library, but lack of funds couldn’t make that possible. However I didn’t give up my hope. I married a widow named Dhanvanti, who was ten years older than me, and for dowry, I asked her father to provide me with a book store”. “I didn’t ask for any extra money other than that”, he added some more. “Dhanvanti's father provided me a large book store beside University. But everything dissolved; dissolved with my unlucky fate that I possess”, he said sadly.
“Oh! I am sorry, I didn’t know that”, I asked to pardon me.
“You must not be sorry for whatever happened, I am the only one responsible, I know”, he replied. “I used to be very kind, I suspect I am still the same. I lend many copies of several books to needy and poor students of university. This kept going for months. They neither paid me, nor returned the books. I suffered huge loss. I had huge debt, I still have them. Unfortunately my shop was closed. My wife left me and married some rich man this time.”
I was feeling very sad to know all these about him. I thought that I should not have started the conversation about his background.
“After Dhanvanti divorced me, her father gave me some money and left me on my own. I opened this stall from that money only; I run this stall and whatever I earn, major portion goes to clear the debt that I still owe because of being kind to people”, he added.
“Don’t worry. Things will get better”, I tried to reassure him. But it was of no use. I purchased a novel. It priced Rs 130. I gave him Rs 150, and asked to keep the change. He packed the book along with a magazine priced at Rs 20. 
“I can't accept the extra money sir”, he told me. I didn’t reply anything and looked at my watch; it was 11:05 pm now. And then came the railway announcement for arrival of my train. I bid him bye and started to move away from his stall.
When I was fifteen steps away, I recollected that I hadn’t even seen what his stall’s name was. I looked back to see. His stall’s name was “Dhanvanti Book Mart”.

Copyrights - ANSHUL GAUTAM'S


  1. Really touching story. AT least he didn't give you the book for nothing so that's progress!

  2. very touchy......

    normally we think that people behind the counters of these book stalls are not that educated and they are there for business only....but this man is certainly different.

  3. wooooo How do I react to it? Except for the few grammatical error which I personally pointed out... this is superb, nicely set plot and nicely woven story! loved reading it,...

  4. Keep it up!! U touched a beautiful story!

  5. A very heart warming story. Even as bad as things had gotten for him, he continued to hold his head up and made something out of himself. What may have looked like something small to others was gratifying to him and was something that he could manage without going further in debt. Truly inspirational :)

  6. When we stop to hear the stories of strangers, we find some traits in them that touch a chord within us. I'm glad you were alone that night. If you had company, we would have missed this wonderful blog post and you an interesting story.

    Came here via Blogplicity, Anshul.

    Keep blogging. All the best.

    Joy always,

  7. nice...very touching story. It just shows the goodness of people we usually miss or take advantage of.

  8. Gr8 wrk!!!!!!!
    i enjoyed reading it!!!!

  9. thanks for those inspiring comment.Really it boosted me like anything.

  10. That was a nice story. Definitely. I have a close connection with the railway book stalls too. The place where I grew up did not have book stalls that sold novels, so every trip to the north meant buying books at railway stations. :)
    That's how I collected my large set of books.
    Pity to hear the story of the kind man. There is no room for kindness in this bad world, Anshul and it's only fair just to refrain from cheating others.. kindness hardly gets returned. :(

  11. Concern shown by you to a lonely customer-hunting book-seller pleased me. Try to make texture of your composition a mix of simple sentences followed by compound or complex one without disturbing the flow of ideas. It makes the passage more readable and interesting.

  12. Nice. It was a great read Anshul :)

  13. Enjoyed.. that was nice you interacted with him and let him speak his heart.. I too like talking to people.. everyone has a special story to share..