City Moment – The Last Remaining Books, Fact & Fiction Booksellers
The remarkable Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One evening The Delhi Walla enters the Fact & Fiction Booksellers in Basant Lok Market. The shop is empty. There are no customers. There aren’t even many books. Almost all the wooden shelves are bare.
The store’s owner Ajit Vikram Singh is leaving for the day. Last month he had announced his decision to soon close his 30-year-old shop. It seems that the fateful day is near.
After Mr Singh goes away to his home in Gurgaon, his longtime colleague Ravi Vyshumpayan says that they gave away books on heavy discount. Almost all the stock is finished.
I browse the leftover books. One of them is Within a Budding Grove, the second volume of Marcel Proust’s great novel, In Search of Lost Time.
“We’ll close down in 2-3 days”, says Mr Vyshumpayan, seated, as always, on his desk (see the top picture). The drawers of his table are empty, save for a stapler and a few coins. There are two credit card machines on the table, though, along with a calculator. Soon, Mr Vyshumpayan also leaves. Two people are left behind: Asutosh Kumar Singh, who has been working in the shop for ten years, and Anil Kumar Singh, who joined two years ago. They turn off the lights and walk out. It has grown dark. Three young men are sitting idle outside the shop’s empty window display. A minute later Asutosh Kumar Singh pulls down the green shutters of the Fact & Fiction Booksellers. It is a sad moment.
Tomorrow will not be another day
1. (from left: Asutosh Kumar Singh, Ajit Vikram Singh, Anil Kumar Singh)