The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A history student in Gargi College, she reads poetry, keeps a journal (see photo 3 below) and now she is the new shop assistant at The Book Shop in Jorbagh.
The Delhi Walla meets Mahika Chaturvedi on her first day of work at the capital’s legendary bookstore. She will help the store’s partners Nini KD Singh and Sonal Narain. At this hour of the day, Ms Narain has already left for home while Ms Singh is seated behind the counter.
Ms Chaturvedi replaces Ashutosh Tripathi, who replaced Sugandh Chaturvedi, who replaced… well, click here to see the complete list of the store’s former assistants.
Ms Chaturvedi who travels daily to Central Delhi from faraway Ghaziabad is fond of verse writers. She is attached to Auden and talks of Eliot as if he is her neighbor whom she meets every morning. Currently, however, she is reading prose—The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure. She is also in the middle of Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time (she is still in the first volume).
“I have been visiting The Book Shop as a customer and I would always sit in front of the poetry section,” she tells me, looking visibly excited about her job.
As the evening progresses, Nini KD Singh briefly leaves the bookstore to take turns in the little park outside. Ms Chaturvedi takes Ms Singh’s seat behind the counter. She opens her beautiful journal and flips to a page where long ago she had noted down excerpts from a beloved poem—she requests me not to name the poem. She starts to read aloud the lines as if she is alone in her home. Her audience consists of the shop’s longtime doorman, the handsome Sohan Singh, and I. It is a beautiful moment.
First day first show
1. (Mahika Chaturvedi)
2. (with Nini KD Singh)