In this short passage the author describes a Varanasi based shopkeeper. The description is based on more than a decade old memories of his childhood when the author was about 13 years old.
A tall, fair, middle aged man who had lips always painted with pan stains. A big black mole on his cheek and the most pleasing smile were his prominent trademarks. How can I forget this shopkeeper, I had all my undergarments, thermals, socks, etc. purchased from his shop in my school days. Not only that I remember my mom making all such purchases for my family of four from his shop. His sugar coated words, apt appreciation of his products and his seemingly generous deals were always good enough to convince my mom. I remember that shopkeeper sitting in a slacken posture with his eyes glaring at every potential customer walking on the street. As soon as he sees a customer entering his shop he would immediately spit the pan and hold hands over his huge belly and with the most embracing smile he would say, “Namaste Bhabhiji, kaisi hai?” Mostly his customers were ladies who were alone responsible for most of the household shopping like my mom.
But, the question is, why would a 13 year old kid hate such a shopkeeper? There was a very peculiar thing about his shop, very shaky for the young lad. All the walls of his shops were covered with posters of lingerie girls. An aberrant sight for a teenager who had the curiosity to have a good glimpse of one of those posters while his mom and sister didn’t notice him staring.
The shopkeeper was indubitably a gentleman but those posters in his shop depicted something which was assumed evil by the kid. A mature person would say that the gentleman had those posters perfectly placed as per the marketing guidelines given by the company whose products he used to sell. At times people tend to judge by the outer appearance/actions which they themselves find intimidating without taking into account the reasons behind; this is what separates a mature person and a kid!