Skip to main content

What price Physics ?

I sold my Dad’s books today. I had lived with those books from the day I was born. Without understanding what they were all about I knew their titles by heart. I pronounced words like Quantum Physics like they were my friends.

The years passed and the books got old along with my dad. When he retired, the books from his office joined the ones at home. Dad found out that after working a life time as a physicist he was happier reading something else for a change and started reading fiction. Espionage, murder mysteries, the works. Physics remained in the book case.

Soon they were wrapped neatly and transferred to the loft. Dad now started saying, let’s just give away these books. When I asked, to whom would he like to give the books. He always said, some one interested in Physics of course! But that person always eluded us.

We explored various avenues seriously. College libraries? Sorry, these are PhD books, not much use to us, we teach only up to M Sc.. University Library ? Not interested. They already had loads of books which no one was reading in the first place. People kept donating useless books. And anyways, they teach different stuff now. How physics can change remained a mystery to me, but I understood the changing times. I still have ten cherished volumes of my Mom’s school encyclopedia which talks about- The Wonder of Radio. It was printed to be sold only in Indian Empire. We are talking a different era here.

I tried to palm the books off to the old college and school books dealer, by saying, these are for M Sc . He was smarter than me and asked, which year? The syllabus has changed 2 years ago. If the books are older than 2 years, he didn’t want them. I couldn't tell him that they were published in 1926.

Finally dad relented and said I may sell them to ANY book shop, but not to the raddiwala who buys old papers and other junk. I nodded dutifully.

Dad sorted the books, saving a few for himself. He saved his PhD thesis, the papers he had published during his thirty years as a physicist. My nephew had asked for them. Now my dad was emotionally free of the books. He asked me to do what I wished with them.

I knew that no book store will accept them. I packed them in a large bag and took them to that forbidden raddiwala down the road. He poured the books on the floor and thirty years of physics came tumbling out. He unemotionally piled them on his scales. I wanted to pull a few out and say, these are nice, in perfect condition. They had stayed on the loft all these years , they can continue to do that for a few more years.

For the first time in my life I was selling a book. Had never sold even my school books. They were always used carefully and passed on to some one, along with the notes in the margins. And here I was selling the books which had sustained us all.

I had to make several trips to the guy with my books. He weighed them all in front of me. The sum total of thirty kilos of physics was 180 rupees, at the rate of Rs. 6 per Kg.

I returned home with an empty bag. Dad asked me how much did I get. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. I said five hundred. Dad cheerfully said, “looks like we got a better deal than Dr Chowdhary. He barely got two hundred.”

Comments

wooster said…
tugs at the heart and draws a tear out...
SloganMurugan said…
I always like it when an old book has a name or some memory of its original owner in it. I hope the book had some thing the new owner would wonder about.

- Gopal
Skasster said…
that's lovely.
suniti said…
Thanks Bertie :)

Slogan, even I am addicted to old books and love reading the notes in the margins. In fact one of the very early entries talk about shopping for books on the foot paths . Thanks for reading.

SKasster, thanks. Hope you will come again.

:)

Popular posts from this blog

The gay and lesbian writing in India.

Perhaps the best session in the recent Kala Ghoda festival was “ Queering the pitch”, a discussion about gay and lesbian literature in India. The panelists were Sachin Kundalkar, R Raj Rao, and Maya Sharma.R RAJ RAO is a professor in the department of English, University of Pune. He is the author of several works including Nissim Ezekiel: The Authorized Biography and Yaraana: Gay Writings from India. Sachin Kundalkar is a Pune based, really talented young gay writer and film maker, writing in Marathi.Maya Sharma is a feminist, a lesbian, and is an activist in the Indian Women’s Movement.The panelists were articulate, came from different backgrounds, and above all, they didn't have an agenda. In fact, they have gone beyond agendas. Creative people, each one of them, they went about their chosen jobs as you are I would, teaching, writing, making films, whatever.Moderator Vikram Doctor kept the conversational ball rolling Raja Rao emphasized the need to look at gay literature as lite…

Tito and the spirit of Satsang

Tito and the spirit of satsang.

“You want me to do WHAT?” I asked in a calm voice. Those familiar with that voice, recognize is as the Early Tsunami warning signal. Tito ignored the warning and blithely carried on.
“Why not! After all you claim to be a poet, so I thought, maybe it is more Your cup of tea than mine. I want it by this evening by the way, if you can manage it please.” That ‘Please’ was an after thought I could see.
“There is a difference between writing poetry and writing a Hindi bhajan to the tune of a film song you know! H-how could you even ASK me to do such a thing!” I sputtered. “And anyway, what do you need a bhajan for? If your mom having a satsang, My dad has loads of bhajan cds. Take any one of them. “
Tito looked mulish. His heart was set on a filmy bhajan.
“Ok, so take any bhajan from movies. Like Alla tero naam. That is a good one.
I have the CD right here.” I started to rummage thru my collection.
“ Nooo. That is a boring old bhajan. Everyone has heard it for hun…

California Summer

I always knew that this visit was going to be different from my earlier visits to this country. Older I get (sigh!), more I find myself shifting from iWANT to iHAVE. This doesn't apply to iPAD of course, but that is indulgence with a capital I.

 When asked what I wanted to do during my visit, images rushed to my mind. It surprised me to find out that most were about food. Anderson's Pea soup, the corn bread and honey which I had for breakfast in Arizona, the square slices from the Round Table pizza, the baked garlic with bread and olive oil in Nepenthe...enchiladas stuffed which cheese with a side order of refried beans and fried rice...not to mention margaritas... boiled corn on cob with melting butter eaten at a camping trip..sourdough bread which is a part of american history...the list was unending. " You need to go on a strict diet" was my brother's detached summing up. Maybe so..maybe so.

Leaving the food aside I would love to visit gardens. I still dream …