Today of all days, I had a hour or more to kill between winding up the OP and a CME (continuing medical education course) I had to attend later on in the afternoon and I decided to go shopping on nearby Mount Road ( I will stick on to the original awesome name as long as I can…..so take that vote-pimping politicians) to while away the free (lunch) time. My idea of a satisfactory shopping trip is not for branded clothes and stuff but second hand books off the pavement shops which are always a bargain- especially if you know how to bargain and love to haggle….the fun being- its not about the money but about the whole experience.
Besides, i had the recent example of my friend Sowmya Swaminathan in front of me, she had blown all her money at the recent book-fair and was behind on her commitments of providing treats/parties promised to us…(if you are reading this Sowmya, u got the message?)
Anyhow I was browsing at a pavement stall near Santhi theatre and having picked up a fine collection of mystery and detective stories peopled by fantastic detectives like Alfred Hitch-cock’s “the Three Investigators”, “the Hardy Boys”, “Nancy Drew” and “The Five Investigators” by Enid Blyton…always a good read in the back of a car when you are traveling and stuck in traffic- because it is light and does not tax your mind much. There is a time and place to read classics, but why deny yourself the simple pleasure of reading “Hardy Boys” or my other favorite “the Archies” just because you are now old enough to marry and have babies?
So then I started the most interesting part of the purchase – The Haggling. The shop-keeper quoted his price and I reciprocated with a counter offer as a preliminary, looking forward to a long and satisfying bargaining session. But to my horror, he immediately agreed to my price quoted and wanted to do the deal. I was nonplussed for a minute, had i been suckered into making an offer higher than he had expected? Could I have started lower and gradually increased? Or was no one else in Madras buying these books and just wanted to get rid off them? Anyway, we closed the deal and i got ready to fork over the hard-earned, when the shop keeper abruptly shook his head and gestured “with the other hand Sir, you are the Boni” a Boni (for those who dont know)- being the first paying customer who is supposed to bring luck in sales for the entire day.
So that’s the reason, I got it,- it was my old habit of using my left hand- which I consciously avoid using 99% of the time…but I do forget and instinctively use it when I am pre-occupied and not conscious of my actions. Being born a left-hander, I have suffered and survived numerous discrimination’s all through my life, from the teachers who caned me over the knuckles at school to make write with the “right” hand, to my mother who stubbornly insisted I eat only with my right hand, to every assorted auto driver, bus conductor, shopkeeper who refused payment from my left (natural hand), to the Principal at St.Bede’s School (Santhome)- a superstitious priest, would you believe it? who refused me admission because I put my left hand forward to shake hands…..
Wikipedia tells me that the word “sinister” comes from sinistra, the latin for left…so being discriminated for being born a left-hander is not new or just confined to our society, but has been universal through the ages. We, lefties are no different than you righties, although we have learn to live in a world made for you people. and you know what? Adapting to your world has made us ambidextrous and we do all things equally well with both hands. I, for example do surgeries with both hands, handling the scalpel with aplomb both ways with no loss of efficiency. And when i used to play cricket, I used to bowl left handed and bat right handed- always confusing people. And my dream has always been to marry a similar left-handed girl who will light the Kuthu-vilakku at our home with her left hand (howazzat, mom?)
So to end our story, I handed over the money to the book shop owner with my “right” hand, giggling to myself that whatever the reason he refused to accept money from my left hand, that reason unlike right hander’s- I did with my wrong (right) hand- the hand that he wanted especially…Go figure….