THE BOOK SELLER
I paused before I rang again and waited patiently outside the apartment. It took a good two minutes before the door slowly opened; obviously the person behind was being cautious not wanting to be surprised by an unwelcome guest. Of course the danger of any intruder barging in was out of the question as she stood safe behind a grilled door, an additional reinforcement to keep away pests of a different kind. The look she gave me made me feel that I did belong to the second variety. The opened door did allow the aroma of ‘Sambhar rice’ reach my nostrils and for a moment I forgot the purpose for which I had come; the blistering sun outside, my aching limbs and the rumblings in my stomach had already made me groggy.
The lady of the house, she had to be that for she stared at me with such authority and with a trace of contempt while wiping her hands on a towel slung over her shoulder.
“Yes, who are you and what do you want?” She asked.
“Madam, if you can spare me two minutes of your time I will be grateful” I replied.
“Well man you have already interrupted me in the middle of my cooking. Are you a salesman? If it is Maggie noodles since you want just two minutes of my time, I am not interested. No one in this house likes them anyway.”
“Madam, I am sorry you misunderstood me. I am not a salesman and I do not sell noodles. I am here to talk about a book” I said trying to sound important,
“Oh books! Please I am not interested in any of your encyclopaedias or children books. You see our children have grown up and moved away and only I and my husband live here. We have no need for books”.
“I think this book would interest you and your husband, just have a look at it” I persisted thrusting a copy of my book through the grilled door.
She looked at the cover without reaching for the book and for a moment looked surprised. “That’s you on the cover. You wrote the book?”
“Yes Madam, I am the author. The book talks about the life of an ordinary man, his dreams, beliefs, aspirations and the transformations that take place in his life during the process of aging. I think your husband will definitely like the book.”
“So you are here to sell me your book, isn’t that your main intention?” she asked.
“In a way yes” I said sheepishly.
“So you are a Salesman after all, you sell books” she said with a smile.
“Yes Madam, by that definition I am a Bookseller. Why don’t you ask your husband to browse through it? I shall leave a copy with you and come back tomorrow. You can buy if you like the book.”
She took the book in her hand and flipped through the pages and in the end said “I am just an ordinary man? What a funny name for a book. I don’t think that we need this book. Ordinary eh! My husband is already that – Ordinary.”
With that she handed back the book to me through the grilled door.
When I got my book published I never thought that I would at last have to resort to climbing stairs, knocking on doors to be met with cold stares, scour the streets in search of gullible victims, learn to take ‘no’ for an answer and ultimately come back with my inventory more or less intact. May be I misunderstood my friend when he said that I needed to raise the sales pitch, I started climbing stairs.
Ever since I started blogging I found that I have turned into some sort of Nostradamus while trying to understand the travails of aspiring authors. In the process all that I had written about the number of likes far exceeding the number of books has come to pass. The initial euphoria accompanying the announcement of the launch of my debut novel has at last waned and all the congratulations and best wishes have now been confined to the recesses my Facebook store.
But it has been an awakening of sorts. The author cannot expect that everyone he knows be it a friend or a relation would ultimately purchase the book, though every one of them in their heart of hearts is genuinely happy for you. The author is in a hurry and the reader is not for he has his own affairs to attend to. I do not exclude myself for though an author, I am also a reader.
But one thing is sure that the writer who is in the process of testing the waters is an Author, Publisher and above all a Bookseller and believe me that the last role is proving to be most difficult.