Original Dilemma !

Its another day just outside the airport. I am there, slouched on the rear seat. Thinking about a few important inconsequentials of life. Like the bill to be paid. The connections to be made. The plans to be executed.

I look with a fixed stare. Through the windshield of a taxi. A windshield which must have been washed for decades ! A windshield which must have been privy to a different age.

And through that looking glass, I saw a sight most of us in India see many times over. It was that of a young boy and his attempt to sell something to passengers in the taxi ahead. Obviously the boy and his body lean on the taxi exterior and his head well inside the rear window of the taxi.

I anxiously look up at the traffic signal. About 90 seconds to go says the big red timer with the factual readiness of a coconut breaker. In about 10 seconds another head comes in front of me. Actually, so close to me, that it gives me a start.

Another boy. Another attempt at a sale. This time around, it is books. Duplicate / street versions of some of the more famous books. The same books that I used to pick up many years ago. The same duplicate versions that I consciously and decisively stay away from for ‘moral’ reasons. As I write this, I think there is a moral force which drives me to add ‘economic reasons’. Perhaps.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Good To Great
The Power of Now
The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari

The boy seems to have it all. And one more element that he has : a passion to close the sale. He convinces me. He says in Hindi, “ Good books sir. Reading gives you wisdom sir. Buy it for your children sir.” He goes on.

I look away. Then look at the big red timer. It tells me that there was a full minute to go. “Sir, this book is for Rs. 55/- only. In the store the cost is more than Rs.500/-“. I tell him I know.

I ask him if he goes to school. He smiles. He gives no answer. “Sir, please buy”. A lump escapes my throat. There he is. All of 12. Perhaps 13. Perhaps younger. Perhaps more. With some dream and purpose. Children of his age, carry other books in their hands. And read. He carries quite a different set. And sells at the traffic signal, with the bright red timer.

I ask him if he knew he is not supposed to sell such books. And that it is illegal. He smiles. He gives no answer. “Sir, please buy. These are books”. I wonder what must have gone through his mind: “What a cartoon, i am selling books not drugs…”

I smile too.

He senses prey. “Three books for Rs. 150 /- Please choose sir. The signal will change soon.” The dilemma of staying away from duplicate copies of any product at the same time wanting to encourage a young passionate heart, who did not beg but wants to earn his living stare at me.

About an hour later, I stare at the new ‘duplicate’ books in my study. They rest right beside their ‘original’ counterparts. It seems to me that the ‘original’s seem perplexed that I have bought home ‘duplicate’ books ! Others are more perplexed that i have brought home the same titles of the ones that i have as ‘originals’.

From the look and feel, I can distinguish the ‘originals’ from the ‘duplicates’. By a mile ! As I think of the young boy, his passion, his sheer ability to stay persistent right under the big red traffic signal timer….

One set seems to be more original than the original !

10 thoughts on “Original Dilemma !

  1. Shiva says:

    A bold step taken by listening to your heart and gesture would definitely will boost his ambitions. May be, life is amoral!!


  2. Jeevan says:

    This is better from begging! Buying original is very good and too sharing it with others who can’t go for original.

  3. Nachi says:

    beautiful insight! glad you bought those books, i would have too…

    life trudges along, all it needs is passion.

  4. I guess your reason for buying the duplicate is substantiated. It’s better than anything else that little kids are forced to do!!

  5. dont know what to say…

    or do…

    there are so many things wrong with the world today (or for that matter .. were wrong and will be wrong).

    somehow the brain conditions itself to literally turn blind to issues that strike discontent on the pretext that nothing can change it.

    you get this reasoning in the back of your head that says “you can do this to this person this one time. this is not scalable!” and you bypass the entire issue..

    Gandhigiri is not scalable..

    maybe I am not that good a person for admitting that?

  6. priya says:

    A good eye to capture of moments of what goes in our mind and his for knowledge and money. Good post. As u said, the picture tells the story by itself what he carries rather what we shud carry..

  7. Kush says:

    I thought I’ll share another side of the same story. When i travel by car from office to home, at siddhivinaayak temple, almost everytime these book selling kids ask for a lift to worli naka. I have dropped 4 such kids. 3 times, i asked the same questions – why doesn;t he go to school, wht do his parents do, why is he selling pirated books etc. All 3 kids went to school in morning and worked by the evening, all 3 dads were dead and all 3 had to earn to ensure their mom could run the household. The fourth time, i decided to stay mum – and yes, the kid started on his own and came up with the same story. Dont mistake me, i do feel bad about these kids, I do. I feel worse about the fact that these 8-10 year olds have already started finding out to be worldly wise when they actuall deserve to be educated and develped into responsible citizens, just like any other kid. Before i end the rambling, a line from “blowing in the wind” – “how many times will a man turn his head, pretending that he just doesn’t see”. 🙁

  8. Swatantra says:

    Amazing… a decision which sometimes we don’t want to take on the basis of some grounds, but took it on the base of another grounds..

    That’s what we call it as priority and at the end it is the satisfaction from both the decisions…

    Enjoy, I liked the way you wrote… it was a good suspense to read an hour later I was looking at the duplicate set of books in the study..

    Keep it UP….

  9. What a poignant post! Beautiful write-up.

    Almost everyone who reads this would feel your action in concluding that deal with duplicate copies is justified.

  10. Chandra says:

    Rather than commenting on the reasons for which you boughtout this scrip – I would like to commend your PURPOSE of writing the same…

    Writing is an expression seldom gifted to people by the one who writes quite a lot…only difference – he writes things which cannot be read so easily.

    I strongly beleive – as long as someone has a PURPOSE for doing what he/she does, any act is justified…

    Who knows someday the same Kid might return your gesture back to someone else when he is the person who is seated in the car…the car on which he was leaning – his head well inside the rear window…

    All it would take is a split second realization that he could well be the person sitting rather than standing…& when that dawns upon him – which way would he choose to get there? At that time would he still be doing something which he is NOT supposed to do???

    This thought bothers me….

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.