The remarkable Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
On the day the Fact & Fiction Booksellers in Delhi’s Basant Lok Market announced its impending closure, The Delhi Walla went to The Book Shop in Jor Bagh Market.
It was evening. The storeowner Nini KD Singh looked pretty in a white cotton shirt and navy blue corduroy trousers. Her colleague Sugandh Chaturvedi was seated behind the counter; she was talking to a customer on the landline phone. The tall Sohan Singh stood beside the glass door, his arm on the door-handle, ready to swing it open for any sudden entry.
A couple of newspaper cuttings were pasted on the wall beside the New Arrivals section. The one on the threat of online shopping on independent bookstores was titled We don’t have to move on-it was written by Jairaj Singh. He is the son of Ajit Vikram Singh, the owner of the aforementioned Fact & Fiction.
It was almost half-past seven. Nini KD Singh walked around the bookstore. The last customer had gone; he had come with his son from faraway Noida. Soon the day’s closing ceremony began. Sohan Singh switched off the air conditioner. Ms Chaturvedi switched off the Jazz music–’April in Paris’ by Wynton Marsalis. Nini KD Singh switched off the credit card machine.
Picking up her bag, Ms Chaturvedi said, “Nini aunty, bye”, and made a quick exit. She had to walk to the nearby Metro station and it was already dark.
Sohan Singh brought in the doormats from outside and kept them in front of the Poetry section.
Nini KD Singh picked up her handbag, took one last look around the shop and started to turn off the lamps one by one. It was a moving moment.
They will open tomorrow