When we are waylaid by a different path in front of us, other than the ones we are used to, we say we are lost. But on a day of heavy rain, clutching three hundred rupees in my right hand—the money I borrowed from the owner of the place I work at, a part of my salary—I did not feel so, even though, that day had changed my entire life registering its presence leaving its indelible colour, and transforming into a milestone.
I had my umbrella in my left hand. In my right hand, keeping it safe from drenching in the rain, I had my hand bag and the money. I had a wallet. But the wallet was too much materialistic and I could not keep the money in it, as if the wallet might transform the money in it into a fistful of rubbish or mere bank notes. For me, those three hundred rupee notes were not just bank notes, or pieces of paper. They meant more than what they were meant for. The money existed beyond the language of day-to-day economics. That money was part of my soul; too abstract to be explained.
I got off the bus that had taken me to the down town. And I walked to the book shop. I crossed the road. Then what I did was to walk on through the foot path beside the shops that appeared cramped in a long array. I was really careful to locate the shop I wanted to visit. I have a problem in identifying and locating particular things among a group or crowd. And then I found it.
I entered the shop. I was careful, very careful, not to wet the books around from water sprinkling from my umbrella, as if the place I entered was a shrine. I put my folded umbrella on the ground, and slung my bag on the left shoulder.
I looked through the glass shelf greedily. I could see my eyes shining reflected in the glass door of the shelf. I waited. There were people there who were making huge purchases. After what it seemed a lifetime, I asked the salesman if I could slide the door open. And he nodded meaning yes. The glass door was glided right. And I picked it up with my naked hands. I could feel my skin coming close to it and then, like a wild beast at its prey, sauntered forward to take its possession. It was the book: Twilight.
Then I took it to the salesman, and he gave it back enveloping it with a brown cover. I read his gestures and went to the owner’s desk, which was in the entrance itself. The shop was very small and there was only a part of the shelf given for English novels.
I went to the owner. My right palm was opened. I passed on Rs. 300 to the owner. The book had cost Rs. 270. He handed back the balance. I took my umbrella and put the envelope carefully in the handbag. The rain was still heavy, powerful and as usual: inexplicable, giving me mixed sensations of fear and happiness. I felt a bit paranoiac, because what I had with me now was something ‘non-common’: the transformation of my abstract soul—the book. The money I spent for the book was part of my first salary—the result of my sweat, my thoughts, feelings, and soul. And the explicable sensation those three bank notes conveyed had now been transformed into this book. But I was happy, too. I was happy to think that I earned the book, unlike that in my past days, in which I entirely depended on parents for my expenses. I was happy to know this too that each of the up coming moments in my life would carry with it, the sense of a new reality, a new world, and a new life. The book will remind me of my self sufficiency, at least in following my dreams. That was a new perception of life, and a new path, and I did not feel lost. I felt more powerful and enriched by the new path that crossed my life.