by Fabiyas M V
A brochure was circulated among the students. There was a public-address announcement too. Yellow Mango, the manipulative publishing company, has certainly influenced the school authority tremendously.
Friday. Lunch break. Time – 12:30.
The publisher’s sales representatives, two young men, brightly dressed, make their appearance in the school compound. They are allotted the heavenly shade of a mango tree in the front yard of the school. They take three long wooden desks from a nearby classroom and place them in a row. Each desk is covered with colorful silk cloth. Books are quickly arranged on the desks. A banner with the details of the book sale is hung on the lower branch of the mango tree.
Meanwhile Pachan, who has put on a white dhoti and blue sleeveless shirt that is a little faded, comes to the staff room in the back yard of the school. He holds a large polyethylene bag in his right hand and carries a carton on his head that is full of books, including small dictionaries, biographies of important people, novels and so on. He is a regular Friday visitor with a gloomy face under a salt and pepper roof. He scatters the books on a dusty discarded table in a nook of the staff room. The children have never noticed such a visitor before; only teachers plow through the table and pick up books befitting their tastes.
Pachan could usually sell a maximum of ten books during one visit.
Many a student has brought money and the price list of Yellow Mango, which they got yesterday. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most of the children mistake Pachan for the Yellow Mango sales representative, for the simple reason that the staff room is open and visible from the yard. Some students come to the staff room to ask their teachers about the location of the book sale, but seeing Pachan, they don’t make further inquiries.
Instead, they buy books and leave.
Now the mistaken children flow into the staff room. Nobody diverts the flow to the mango tree. I peep inside—just to enjoy the rare glow on Pachan’s countenance. He is encircled by a row of students.
He is truly a stone cold bookseller. His customers are familiar with his ready-made phrases—‘yes’, ‘take it’, ‘twenty rupees’, and ‘next time’.
The bell rings exactly at 2 p.m. The children flee to their classrooms and the teachers follow them. The representatives from Yellow Mango gnash their teeth. They are in a huff because their well-oiled business tricks did not succeed today.
It is the day of the biggest sale in Pachan’s life. His pocket and purse bulge like the belly of a pregnant woman. Yet he is polite. That is his nature.
The well-groomed sales representatives flounce out of the school compound without turning back. Well-planned strategies fail at times before the luck of simple, innocent people.
* * *
As I remark, “Lucky man,” a smile appears on Pachan’s melancholic face like a crescent moon emerging from behind dark clouds. He folds his empty polyethylene bag, puts it in the empty carton, and saunters to the road.
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Fabiyas M V
Fabiyas M V is a writer from Orumanayur village in Kerala, India. He is the author of Moonlight and Solitude. His fiction and poems have appeared in Westerly, Forward Poetry, Literary The Hatchet, Rathalla Review, Off the Coast, Structo, and in several anthologies. He won many international accolades including the Poetry Soup International Award, USA, the RSPCA Pet Poetry Prize, UK, and Merseyside at War Poetry Award from Liverpool John Moores University, UK. His poems have been broadcast on the All India Radio.