These days, am reading ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’, one chapter at a time. I started it quite a few days back and maybe by chapter count, it should have been over by now. But due to my usual ‘advertising career’ timings, have skipped a few days in-between. Then there are also days when i don’t feel like reading prose, so i pour through gazals and poems.
I’d bought this book a couple of years ago from the Sunday book bazaar at Daryaganj. It was in good shape, maybe only ‘secondhand’ and i got a very good bargain on it and others combined. I think i even wrote a blog post about the day with pics and all. Perhaps that was also the last time we’d gone to book bazaar!
And how i’m missing her now. Haven’t talked to her since evening. It is our custom to speak to each other before going off to sleep. But i guess i was too late today and she already dozed off. It has been happening a bit frequently these days and it makes me sad. This and the memories of that day in Daryaganj are making me miss her even more and sleep is eluding me so well. That too despite the fact that i haven’t taken my full quota of rest for past two days now.Anyways, i digress again.
Why i felt the urge to write now was that i found the first signs of this book’s previous owner while reading it tonight. S/he had scribbled exactly those words that i would have if i’d a pen/pencil with me now. I wondered who the person would be, a man or a woman? Of what age and country? May be this book traveled half the world to reach me or may be it was sold to a ‘kabadi wallah’ in my own part of Delhi. Who knows, but what i know is that person has/had a heart similar to me. How rare this bond is!
I’m writing this post on my mobile, as i also wanted to share this with you:
And then one weekend he came home from school to find the cabin empty, still, a washrag hanging over the side of the tub and a chill in the air. He sat on the porch, hungry and cold, waiting. Very much later, near dusk, he glimpsed his mother walking down the hill with her arms folded. She did not speak until she reached the steps, and then she looked up at him and said, “David, your sister died. June died.” His mother’s hair was pulled back tautly and a vein was pulsing in her temple and eyes were red rimmed from crying. She wore a thin gray sweater, pulled close, and she said, “David, she’s gone.” And when he stood and hugged her she broke down, weeping, and he said, “When,” and she said, “Three days ago, on Tuesday, it was early in the morning and i went outside to get some water, and when i came back the house was quite and i knew right away. She was gone. Stopped breathing.” He held his mother, and he could not think of anything more to say. The pain he felt was deep inside him, and above that was a numbness and he could not cry. He put a blanket around his mother’s shoulders. He made her a cup of tea and went out to the hens and found the eggs she had not collected, and he gathered them. He fed the chickens and milked the cow. He did these ordinary things, but when he went inside the house was still dim, the air still silent, and June was still gone.