Piece of Time (Part-2)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

For part-I, head on here. If you haven't read that or just feel it's not for you, then maybe, find something else to read. This won't make sense without the context. 


Nearly an hour late into the 'one drink only' evening, I found myself sitting alone for another 15. The person was running late. 

He walked into the bar, empty-handed. 

"Where's the book?

"I forgot. How about you collect it from my place on your way out?"

Sure, okay. 

No surprises there; on that one drink turning to many drinks, and some shots and maybe some food that I can't quite remember. It also turned into texts from my friends demanding my whereabouts and some missed calls from my family. 

At some point, I recall getting a look from the server, asking to behave myself. The lesser said the better about my drunken, tired self. Ofcourse, in hindsight, it seemed all too shady. 

At some other point, I found myself walking to this person's house for the best (comic) book and another memorabilia I'd been nudging him for.

This should be, what, midnight? Nearly six hours since the plan and four hours since we met. The details are hazy but I remember in vignettes in colours. How well lit the neighbourhood was and how chilly the evening turned out and how I should have eaten something instead of drinking on an empty stomach. 

Now since we have a policy of not kissing and telling, what happened next is censored. Largely also cause I remember in hazy bits; the highlight of which was a frantic call from my family checking on my whereabouts. 

I allegedly told them I'd be home by 2 am. 
At 2 am, I'm reminded by this person, "your mom had called. You're supposed to be home by 2."

That's when it hit me. 


The answer to my emotions in the upper-case is yes. Yes, I'd had one too many drinks and I had work the next morning. I was in a neighbourhood, far away from my house, in chilly December, and nobody had any idea. Especially not the people I was supposed to meet that evening after only one drink

"What should I do? Should I head home"

"Yeah, I don't know. Just do whatever."

That person was visibly short and irritated. I think I'd be too if I found another person ask me that question especially when all I wanted to do was sleep. 

Actually, let's no go to what I'd be and what it was probably gonna be. It has to be worse than my imagination. 

I decided to crash the night and leave in the morning. Because, baby it's cold outside

After a ceremonious start to the day, early next morning, I landed back at mine. About three hours and a splitting headache later, I found my family seething in anger. 



Calm down. No, really. Marriage? Sex? 

This was the first time in all these years I heard my parents mention marriage. 

Not only I was hungover beyond belief but scandalized at the idea that "having sex" is something we're discussing over the first cup of coffee. 

I was caught off-guard and I might have made the matter worse by laughing. The idea that "having sex" with someone is basically something you can do only if you stay out all night cracked me up. 

If you ask me, there are far worse things to do at night. Talking to someone and laying yourself open is far worse. In an equal amount, talking and sharing your idiosyncrasies or talking idly or just about forging a connection. 

I don't know, so many things came to my mind and all I wanted was lots of water and coffee. And a bed to catch up on sleep. Actually, I just needed my bed and 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. My sensibilities were on 10 miles an hour and I knew as much; if my cab doesn't show up in ten, I'll be late for work but woah-woah-woah easy on sex. I just went for the book. 

The book!

I came back to mine without the bloody book. After all that and more and then some more, how could I forget to take the fucking book. The worst part was that there was no sex and there was no book. What's the opposite of win-win again? Yeah, that. 

It hit me as I was in a yelling match with my family. All of this started with the wretched book. The fact is, about two weeks in this conversation of the best book, I didn't have the fucking book. I was nowhere close to it. 

I got out of the house, told myself I'd get the damn book before Christmas and vowed to order first thing at work. 

Naturally, the universe didn't cooperate. 

I wrote to my contact, an old friend, a senior editor at the publishing house that is responsible for the distribution of this best book in India. 

"...is it possible for you to help me purchase a copy and avail the discount?" 

I got an automated response in no time. The editor was on leave until the end of the year. 
Well, fuck my luck.  

I checked the availability of the book online. The first thing I learned about the book other than being expensive is that there was no way in hell, I could get my hands on in it before the next fortnight. Which meant, it'd be past Christmas. 

Between Christmas and the yearly book shopping time at the World Book Fair, it would be a week. If I've waited this long, what's another week. 

But the book, and Christmas, and reading in bed? And then proceeding to finish the damn TV series between Christmas and New Year's Eve?

I convinced myself, it's okay. It's fine. I can live without the book until January. 

On 29th December, a friend and I went to a film. It was our second night in a row of catching up on the films we'd missed and since we'd reached the mall slightly early, we decided to hang around in the bookstore. I mentioned the best book ever to him, and he told me, it was true. He also offered to lend me his copy except the copy was back at his hometown. 

Don't worry, I'll get it from the bookstore here.

I decided to fuck my discount and get the bloody book. However, the universe had other plans. 

"Ma'am we're out of the stock. It'll come back by second week of January."

I thanked and exited. You've got to be shitting me, right now. I thought of ordering online again as we walked to the theatre. But that would mean, I'd risk paying more because I can potentially get the book from the Book Fair. 

Book Fair means I'd actually meet the editor friend and request her for an old-time employee (me!) discount. A whopping 50 percent on all hardcover, paperbacks, and the rest. 

On 30th December, my arm was twice it's size with rash and stiffness. I was at a sleepover with friends and in massive discomfort. 
I had also not been home in a long time so there was that added sense of, "well fuck. I'm unwell now."

On 31st December, the doctor I'd casually gone to see for my arm (thrice it's size, completely stiff and unmovable) had asked me to get hospitalized that very minute. He'd mumbled something serious, amputate and the condition being extremely serious and it being all wait and watch the situation. 

Before midnight, at 9 pm, I found myself on Amazon with one functional arm which was swollen with multiple needles and reactions to the antibiotics they were trying on my arm. 

I found a seller willing to deliver the book at a somewhat discounted price in 10 days. 

10 days would mean that if I did survive this bullshit, I could actually read this book. My physical condition wasn't positive and it didn't look like I'd be hitting the Book Fair at all. 

On the third day in the hospital, I called the same bookstore's other outlet to check on the book's availability. Turns out they did have it, except at double the price. 

Did I want to read the book before my arm got amputated? Yes. 
Was I willing to wait for a cheaper deal? Also, yes. 

I thanked and hung up. Decided to wait another week. 

On the sixth day, I got a mail telling me the packet has been dispatched. 

On the tenth day, there was no news of the package. 

I'd safely made it back home and was resting for the most part. My cousin was designated to get married in two week's and I had pending shopping, pending office work and the insatiable urge to get my hands on the fucking book. 

It wasn't even about reading at that point as much as it was about getting the fucking book. 

It took me three days to chase and get on multiple calls and send repeated emails to understand that the seller registered with Amazon had sent no fucking packet with the book. The book was costly and the price displayed in the store was ridiculously cheap. He/she possibly realized so after the order, and instead of fulfilling it, inserted a random number of the package. 

When I traced the package with the number, the courier company informed me that no such number exists and their tracking numbers are completely different.

At this point, it had been two months into this book fuckfest. I made money, I earned a salary, I had one too many drinks with the person, and then I nearly lost an arm. How is it that I couldn't get a copy of the best book ever but everything else was happening just fine? 

I told myself, this book and I aren't meant to be and decided to move on. 

On the last day of the Book Fair (that corresponded with my last day of bed rest), I had chores to run and was in the other part of the city. Some shenanigans with my cousins, including the one who was to get married. They were insisting on my sibling and me to stay until I cited work and she, some other excuse. We got out and stopped for a pitstop midway. After the snack, I told her to proceed home without me. 

I took an auto straight to the Book Fair. Some rituals are meant for a lifetime. If I had survived a situation with my arm and I was to live, I'd get back to my ritual. This was my first trip out in nearly two weeks and an infected arm. I had been advised to not get out of my way to exert any pressure, especially on the arm. 

And yet, I found myself at the World Book Fair in Delhi on the last day. A Sunday. Fucking hell. 

I proceeded to make my way to the distributor's stall. The cell phone reception was poor and I'd been trying to reach out to my friend for the discount. Inside the hall, there were massive queues just to enter that specific distributor's stall. 

After a patient 15 minute long queue, I was in. 
It took me another 5 to locate the copy of the book. Hidden under a pile of children's books, this was supposedly the last copy and I couldn't be more thrilled. 

After picking some more books and basically ensuring my fucked arm to be fucked some more, I was frantic. I had little money designated to spend and without the discount, this entire stash would be upward of 10k. 

I tried my best to locate someone, anyone, who knew where my friend would be but to no avail. I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance who feigns ignorance in entirety each time he sees me and explained the situation. He apologized and said he can't help me. 

At this point, I was tired and feeling groggy. I had overexerted myself and carrying those hardcovers hadn't made it easy. The serpentinite queue to the cashier was daunting. I stood there, hoping for a miracle.

I saw another salesperson, this time, I approached with a strategy. 

"Hi, do you happen to know XXX?"

"Yeah, why? Do you need something?"

I explained the situation to him. How I'd been an ex-employee and how XXX always helps me with the discount and how I was unable to reach out to her. 

He walked to the front of the queue with my pile and instructed the cashier to give me the discount I'd been dying for. 

Twenty minutes later, I owned a copy of the best (comic) book ever written. 

It's been exactly seven months since I came into the possession of the book and I'm pleased to tell you, I've no idea where it is. 

You see, in my excitement, I got the bags out and stored it safely. Safe enough for me to read after the wedding and then a work trip. In between that and the corona bit, I lost the track of where exactly did I keep the book. 

I'd say I'm excited to find it but that would mean another two-part story and I don't know if anyone here is up for it again. 

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