The Gift

It was lying there on the stairs.

I didn’t believe I see it. But it was as real as the early December morning I’d opened the front door to fetch my news daily. “Maybe, the first chai didn’t work enough!” I thought.

Gingerly I touched it with my right toe. It was cold, metal cold. And real. Bewildered, I stood there. Then I bent down to examine it more closely. It was in perfect condition. An old, but real Smith Corona. I pressed a key and it sprang to life. A smile swept across my face.

Who would have done this? Left an ancient, but wonderful typewriter outside my front door at 7 in the morning? The typewriter gleamed in the morning light, I looked around to see if someone was playing pranks on me. It looked inviting. “Maybe Anu is up to her usual tricks. Hmmm. But where would she get hold of a genuine typewriter like this?” Looking around for the last time, I picked it up and carried it inside.

My table was already cluttered with books and magazines and newspapers. I put it on the bed, folding blankets, putting them neatly away. “Time to get ready Adi, and no newspaper today also”, I muttered. “Let this fella come around asking for money, I’ll tell him the worth of a single newspaper. Why don’t these people understand? For god sake, I’m a copywriter, and a copywriter needs to read his newspapers!”

By the time I returned home that night, the typewriter had already slipped out of my mind. It came back, just as I was turning the key in. All that seemed unreal then, and there were chances that it might have been an extended dream of mine.

I peeked in through the door. It was there on my bed. Just as I’d left it. Winking in the ‘zero watt’ bulb I leave on when going out. “But who was it?” I thought again.

I’d had a terrible day at the office. “Being a junior copy should not mean that seniors will take me for granted. Must get a few published campaigns in my folio soon.”

Had returned with a couple of new briefs in hand, to churn up some print campaign for them, all by the next afternoon. ‘Homework’ I call these.

Changed into my night clothes, turned on the sports channel showing the Indo-Pak cricket match highlights and mindlessly chomped away the haka noodles bought in from the Chinese take-out. “Why didn’t he leave a laptop for me? He or She? Whatever.” Losers don’t get laptops, they get old typewriters, the devil inside sniggered. Promptly, the resident angel corrected him, ‘old, workable typewriter!’ Yeah right, Workable! And I sniggered absent-mindedly at the dropped catch, I’d already seen thrice in the afternoon news.

Workable? Catch? Wow! I left the dinner midway and grabbed the nearest blank page. The problem, there was none. “Why not the typewriter?” Hmmm. Cleaning up the mess on table, I put the typewriter on the prime real estate part. And thought about the brief I’d to work upon, ‘no more dropped catches in your life, life doesn’t give second chances, get the insurance cover for your home, office or property, today…’ Bingo!

The more I typed, the more freely the words came. It was, as if happening on its own. I couldn’t sleep that night, completed my two campaigns by early morning, got ready and flied off to office.

When I returned home that evening, I would have hugged the typewriter, if it were human. Both my concepts had been approved and sent to the computer artists, to be converted in to layouts. It was easily the best day of my professional life so far! And I slept like a log.

From then on, it became a superstition, a habit, a need. Whenever I got a major brief, I itched to get back home and type it out on the typewriter. And it worked! I got promoted, gradually I became the ‘guy’ in advertising, the upcoming, brilliant talent that everyone speaks about. I changed three jobs in eleven months with a three-fold increase in pay packet. I’d arrived.

The typewriter became my most prized possession, ‘the gift’ that had changed my life.

Winter is here again. It’ll be an exciting day at the office, I think, as I get up and put the tea on boil. Sleepily, I trudge to the front door for my daily newspaper dose.

I’m startled to see a strange man standing outside. He is wearing a black leather overcoat, the kind you see in old movies, and his face is covered with a hat. Without a word, he hands out the newspaper he is holding, which I’m surprised to discover is of the day when the ‘gift’ arrived in my life. Dec. 05, 2006. “What’s going on?” Finally, I manage to mumble.

With a curiously old world accent, he says, nay strikes, “Good Morning, Mr. Adi. I’m sorry that I borrowed this paper without your permission. Now, if you will excuse my impertinence, may I’ve my typewriter back?”


14 Responses to "The Gift"