Greyness has cut large swathes through his hair. He smiles a lot and maintains a constant banter, but his eyes look out the world beneath a furrowed brow with weary resignation and some fear. He tries to sell me something else - anything else - besides the one little item that I'm buying only to get some change to pay off the cybercafe next door, rattling off a list of all that he stocks in an ever-quickening desperation as he sees yet another chance to make some much-needed money slip away.

I wait him out patiently, smiling a bit to ease the pain of rejection, even as I remember all those times past when a young me waited (im)patiently, shouting out a list of much-needed items (blue sequins! gold ribbons! gluestick! glazed paper!) for some school project, while he bustled about, promising to serve you in one minute, just one minute before blatantly moving on to another young brat, keeping the lot of us entranced like a magician, giving us just enough of what we wanted to keep us waiting, but never giving us so much attention that a newcomer might be put off and leave.

His spiel comes to a reluctant close, and as he fiddles in an empty-sounding drawer, I look around and try to remember where each of those then-so-important items were stored. And I realise then that this shop, whose dusty interiors I then took as a sign of forgotten treasures, now just inspires a desire to give it a good cleaning and make it less dingy. I know then that he's not the only one who's become older. Jaded. Weary.

I leave him then, sitting with the ghosts of clamouring throngs, back into a world that's advanced into graphic presentations and virtual presences and global diaries. Back onto pavements that have been upgraded, past new shops that tempt you into moving into a new age of comfort and functionality. Into a world where he and his shop have quickly morphed into dinosaurs, and as quickly, are going extinct.

...I should have bought some sequins.


shyam said...

Yes, you should :(

The Bride said...

I always sympathetic to these old shops but sometimes I wonder, if they can't upgrade why don't they at least clean? Have they to some extent been responsible for their own desolation for refusing to invest even a little bit in change?

dipali said...

Poor guy, poor old shop.The Bride has a very valid point, though.

DewdropDream said...

Long time no see... Happy New Year to you. Have a great vacation... when do you get back?

??! said...

The Bride/Dipali:
Agreed, agreed.

And to you. And I'm back. Hence the posts.

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