Saturday, 26 March 2016

Lost and Found (A true story)

Seeing someone reading a book you love, is seeing book recommending a person.
~Mcleod's Tumblr (quote by a Reddit user)

This is story which is really close to my heart. Some of you might find it very basic but the very experience managed to influence me so deeply that my inspiration derives from this man.
In September, amidst the pressure of my A levels and constantly trying to reach the top of the growing pile of word to get done, my only escape; well for a nerd that I am, were the English passages that would, at least for the length of them, make me feel like there was some creativity and art left in this world. Mind you I sucked at A levels English, but I think it was worth the while I spend researching the rest of the passage online.

One lecture, sitting in a class of 10 students, I came across this story by Vita Sackville west. I was thinking about it even while and after going home. The very structure of the story, the storyline, the characters and the dance of words that rained on me were so impactful that I made it my goal to search for this book and read it so that I could be devoured by the magic of her writing.
Sadly, importing it to India seemed to cost my goddam kidney.

In the month of December, I was in Vancouver, walking into bookshops and crawling out under the weight of all the paperbacks I had bought. Let me tell you something about bookshops. They are magical with their leather backs and golden letters on the cold spines on these books that make the whole place smell like a perfume I want to capture in a bottle and take home with me. Somewhere I had decided that I was going to go home with the book I wanted and already loved without even reading it.

On a wet, gloomy and extremely chilly day I was walking down the streets of downtown searching for a place to eat. By now I was used to most streets except this one; I didn’t really expect to find the bookshop that I was planning to visit waiting for me there by the corner. McLeod’s.

Now you must think that this story is about a book. Well that is partially true. But it’s really about this man.

This bookshop was a ramshackle place. With books of miscellaneous genres piled up by the door in tall stacks which could topple over any moment. The bookshelves were tall and were stuffed with books till there were so close that some were actually bending. There were random glass cases locked with shining copies of hard bound and leather books. I walked so cautiously in fear that I would cause an avalanche of books. Yes, the whole place looked like a blanket of dust had fallen evenly over it, but for me this was the most enchanting thing I had seen and I was too tongue tied and mortified to actually ask the old man what I wanted.

I thing its time I tell you that this man I have been talking about, was old and slow. Each movement was well thought out where one looking would think that he has forgotten what he was going to think next. With thick glasses that settled on the bridge of his nose, he looked at everyone who walked into the book store with a scrutinizing gaze that made his crow’s feet look deeper and darker.
I wandered around so numbed and overwhelmed that I literally didn’t know where to start and what to look for. I had totally forgotten what I actually wanted. All I could think of was all the untouched history in the narrow aisles and all the forbidden romances amidst them. All the whispers that were louder than screams and all the footsteps that were anticipating but not in a hurry.

I loomed in each section for so long that I’m sure I was collecting dust.

I finally admitted defeat and approached the old man mumbling the name of the author. Oh. I didn’t exactly remember the name of the book since I had half expected to recognize it If I came across it. I hadn’t anticipated I would be searching for it.

I must have gotten the name wrong, but the man heard calmly and I even accepted that he looked so blank that he probably didn’t know what I was talking about. He seemed to have no clue what I was talking about.

But his gaze shifted and he looked at the bookshelves behind me. Suddenly he was calmly walking towards the shelf and with shivering hand yet rhythmic movements tenderly pulled out the book that bought me to tears. Yes I wasn’t the book with the story I had read back in school, but it bore the name of the woman whose work I was searching for and the name of the books I had dreamt of owning one day. The man who looked so lost and clueless, was actually well versed with every book in the shop. For me which looked like a shabby and old unorganized store was as organized to him. He knew where each book rested and the stories that guarded it. He looked at books like they were all the riches he ever wanted and spoke so passionately about each; I had never seen anyone so passionate about anything in this world which has lost the meaning of the very word.

It wasn’t his extensive knowledge that captivated me but the choice of not forgetting what he learnt from running the bookshop and still loving what he did as if he knew the art would die one day. He was the type of person I knew I had respected and aspired to be, but had never met.
That day I walked out of the store not only tightly clutching my new books but also trying to hold on to moments so that I would never forget this day.

Writers Note: this bookshop is pretty known within the locals. and i just realized that they have a basement which makes the top floor look empty. :)))))))
unfortunately, they have taken down their tumblr.
But here's the store on maps.
Mcleod's Address on google maps.

10 comments:

  1. This is beautiful! The way you have talked about your experience is engaging ❤️

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  2. THIS IS AMAZING NIKITA. MADE ME MELT

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  3. Along with the owner's love for books, I envy your love for books and writing too Nikita! Amazing! ❤

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    1. Thanks a lot fatty! Means a lot 😊😊 :))

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  4. Very proud of you.....it's rare that somebody respect books and booklovers

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