Far away and long ago. Wuthering heights. Oliver twist. Swamy and friends. Twelfth night. For whom the bell tolls. All old and worn out books, lying scattered in a wooden box. There were some old magazines as well. I must buy a couple of them, not because I was eager to read all these books. The owner of this ‘box shop’ was looking at me now and then hoping that I will buy at least one of them. While leafing through some of them, I chanced upon “An anthology of English poems”, when I picked it up, an envelope dropped from it. It was addressed to one Gokuldas… A familiar name, I thought. Could he be the friend of my roommate in the early seventies? I wondered. I bought that book just for the sake of that letter. It was signed by one Sumitra… again a familiar name. The letter was very brief: “Dear Gokul, this is my own book… not from the library. Read these poems and you’ll get to know more about the art of writing poems”.
It is more than 25 years since I vacated that room. I have only a dim recollection of those days. My roommate was working as an electrician in a public sector company and Gokuldas used to visit him quite often. He was working as an assistant in a pawn-broker’s shop. During his visits, he used to tell me about certain books and what more, he was never tired of telling me about Sumitra with whom he used to discuss books and literature. The act was he was a school dropout and this Sumitra was an Assistant Professor in Arts and Science College. And, I responded with “um, oh, really…” but now I realize my folly. My judgment was wrong. He was indeed a classmate of Sumitra and they studied in a reputed English medium school—
Now he must be in his eighties. I see him occasionally when he visits the temple. The next time I come across him, I must tell him about that letter and may be about my own folly!