Sunday, January 08, 2006

Missing The Tree

Last January , a friend of my wife
from the US dropped in at our home.
Going through my personal
library, he fancied a particular book.
“Take it,” I offered rather generously,
because I’d often claimed I’d rather die
than part with one.
He said he’d take it, only if
he could pay for it.
I dismissed his offer as a crass joke
and said, no, please take it for free,
I don’t sell my books.
“I think nothing should be given
away free,” he insisted, and offered $20 to me.
I thought it was his politically correct way of
meaning anything can be bought.
I was aghast and felt awfully insulted.
I refused the money. He persisted.
So there we were, arguing adamantly
when my wife said to me privately, “Just take it.
and anyways you guys are
turning this into one big male ego trip.”
Castigated, I buck-led, though under protest.
Later, I fumed at my wife for making
me accept the money. “What are you being so pseudo
possessive about,” she asked me disparagingly,
“after all, you have hundreds of them lying
around. One less wouldn’t matter.”
Her claim was, since I rarely read what I buy,
they are uninvited, unwanted,
and unworthy to be attached to.
“Like Imelda Marcos and her shoes
collections,” is her cold constant refrain.
Chastened, I carried around the $20 bill
in my wallet for ten months,
like a festering wound to my national
and personal pride.
Finally I passed a shop that
exchanged currencies and I went in
and got for $1=Rs42.87.
Told my wife about it.
“Oh good," She said, "Hope you didn’t
get some more orphans to populate
our overcrowded pad.”
I nodded sheepishly that I had.
“By the way, what was that
book you had sold your soul out for?” she asked me mockingly.
I thought hard and realized,
I just couldn’t recall the name.
And, she just smiled enigmatically.