Fiction Park

One day at a bookstore

  • An author’s accidental meet-and-greet with the readers
- Sakar Lama

Apr 7, 2019-

I browsed through the ‘Romance section’ scanning the flirtatious titles on the paperbacks lining the dark oak bookshelves—Dear Darling; My Dashing Cheater-Husband; Fifty Shades of Grey.

It was my first visit to the Little Book Galaxy—the new bookstore my Instagram fans were urging me to pay a visit. And it turned out to be just like what they were raving about. The book heaven!

The tall, wide space exuded a claustrophobic vibe. Endless lines of sky high bookcases flaunted glossy books of all sizes and shapes. Cheerful, bookish people mumbled behind the counter. I was immediately in love with this place. I loved the sight of strangers milling about the aisle, their curious eyes shifting from one cover to another. I knew then that this place was going to be one of my favourite hangout spots in Kathmandu.

Next, I moved through the ‘Fantasy section’, then the Thriller, before finally stopping in front of the rack housing ‘The Best-sellers.’

I tilted my head back to get a sight of the book claiming the top spot. The Best Bride. My eyes widened with disbelief. My eyes trailed all the way down to the author’s name. Robin Pant. That’s me! That’s my freaking book!

Excited, I looked around the store. A silver-haired lady was studying the back of the black book in her withered hand. She was the only person near me. Feeling my eyes on her, she raised her head and glanced at my direction.

Smiling a lip-tight smile, I gave her a thumb-up; buy that book! Even though I had absolutely no idea what she was reading.

She nodded towards my way and went back to poring over the synopsis. I stood on my toes, reaching for The Best Bride. The book felt precious in my grasp. My baby. Only I know how much blood, sweat, and tears I’d spilled while making it. How many sleepless nights I’d spent on the drafts. How I had fought through countless self-doubts and made countless sacrifices to find it a perfect home.

Seeing it in bookstores was always a joy, but spotting it at the summit of the best-seller list of some bookstore felt surreal. The book still in my hand, I slid a finger across the italic fonts, Robin Pant. A drop of liquid splashed on the cover. The picture of a designer white gown. Oh shit! I realised I was crying. Hot tears were stinging my eyes, moving down my cheeks. It was so typical of me. I drew out a pen and the notebook from my coat’s pocket, tore a slip of paper carefully from the notepad, and scrawled: Thank you for buying my book. Much love.

I drew a smiley faced emoji and signed the note with my initials RP. Then I slipped it between the pages of the book. I was placing The Best Bride back to the rack when someone said: “Mr Robin Pant?” I turned toward the speaker, blinking. “Yes?”

The young girl beamed at me, revealing a range of milk-white, straight teeth.

“Oh my god!” She exclaimed, her hand flying to her mouth.

I didn’t know how to react.

Her hand dropped to her side. “I loved your book so much,” she said. A big fan. She must have recognised me from social media since there was no author photo on the jacket or inside of the book; I was all over social media as part of the deal with my publisher. “Nutbrun is such an interesting character,” she said. “I’m in love with her. I know that will make me a lesbian, but I don’t care.” Then she let out a flutter of laughter.

“Th-thank you,” I said, sensing my cheeks had turned red. I had never encountered a fan face-to-face ever before.

“Actually, I’m here to buy three more copies of The Best Bride for my friends,” she said brightly. “I’m going to gift them as Christmas present. Will you sign them?”

I nodded like an obedient child. “Of course. I’d be more than happy to do it. Thank you.”

But the girl didn’t rush to grab the book. Instead, she turned her back toward me and spoke to the shelves surrounding us.

“Attention everyone!” The girl’s loud voice cut the silence of the room. I stared at the back of her head. What is she doing? “We’ve a star author among our presence!” Oh god! “The author of The Best Bride, Mr Robin Pant, is here!”

The girl turned and faced me again, flashing her perfect teeth. “Mr Pant, please ready your pen. You’ll have more than three books to sign now.”

“Er...” I didn’t know what to say, except “Okay.” But who would want them signed beside her? A feeling that I was going to be another joke for somebody to tell around a dinner table attacked me. Sweats wetted my palms.

But then heads started popping between the bookcases.

“Did somebody say Robin Pant is here?” One of the visitors asked.

“Yes.”The girl gestured to me politely with her hand.

“He’s Robin Pant.”

At that moment, a guy wearing a pair of thick glasses came striding towards me and the girl.

“Mr Pant,” he greeted me apologetically. “Pardon me and my fellow staffs for not recognising you earlier. I’m Samir, one of the cashiers here. I must say your book is selling like hot cakes in our bookstore.”

By now almost every person in Little Book Galaxy was within my field of vision. And I in theirs. They held the look of respect in their eyes.

Thinking I ought to say something, I said, “It’s n-nice to hear that, Samir.” I could hear my own voice stammering a little. “Th-this is a magnificent bookstore. I like it.”

Grinning like a Cheshire cat, Samir ushered me to the front of the shop. A chair and a desk were asked to be brought out.

I exhaled a sigh. Calm down. Almost all the shoppers had got together by now and were forming some sort of crowd around me. I noticed the girl and the old lady clutching the copies of The Best Bride in their hands. Did the old lady really ditch that black book for mine?

My eyes flicked to others. What a pleasure it was to see almost all of them holding at least one copy of my book! Samir offered me a tall glass of sparkling yellowish-orange liquid. “Champagne, sir?”

Whaaaat? A surprised smile lit up my face. This bookstore was incredibly nice. I accepted the Champagne flute with a grateful nod.

Then, in next few moments, I found myself sitting behind the desk sipping away the fruity Champagne and greeting my readers, who had formed a queue in front of me, one by one. A normal visit to the bookshop had become a fully blown book signing event.

I thanked the girl for introducing me to everyone in the bookshop and for loving my books as much as I did. She was a kind soul, and I was bit sad when she left the store. But when I learned that we had sold over eighty copies of The Best Bride during my seating behind the desk, my happiness returned. I was so delighted that I didn’t want to leave the bookshop. But I did leave reluctantly, late in the afternoon.

Although unofficial, it was my first book event and the beginning of several incredibly good new things that were about to happen to me in the days to come.

Published: 07-04-2019 10:36

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