Every writer’s problem.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The drawing-room steel rack has hijacked his mind. The Delhi Walla is at the home of Ronald Vivian (RV) Smith, the city’s longtime chronicler, who is the author of many books on Delhi. The New Year began with his latest offering, Delhi: Myth, Lore and History (Niyogi Books).
Mr Smith lives with his family and his father’s typewriter in an apartment in West Delhi’s Mayapuri. He turned 78 a week ago. Throwing an anxious look at the many, many old dust-covered newspapers and books placed precariously on the rack, he points them out as valuable documents of his life and work. “They are my newspaper columns that I have written over the years”, he says. Mr Smith writes ‘Down Memory Lane’ for The Hindu and ‘Quaint Corner’ for The Statesman.
Mr Smith’s rack, it seems, has taken more weight then it could bear. It has started to lean on one side.
The elderly author says: “I want to replace this old rack with a steel almirah. One junk dealer has just the right kind of almirah but he is demanding 5,000 rupees. Now, you see, I’m not a money-making machine. I’m asking him to settle down for 2,000 rupees plus this rack but he is not agreeing… my son says he will throw away these newspapers after I’m gone.”
Mr Smith then sits down beside his rack. It is a moving moment.
The question of Mr Smith’s archives