Gifts are always welcome especially if they are unexpected. Are there any other kinds then? Ofcourse - like at birthdays....they are expected aren't they? But best are the ones which just pop up.
Recently, a group of 16 smart young CBR workers turned up from Nagaland for training on Community Based Rehabilitation at the NGO where I work. Usually I meet trainees only at the begining and end of each work day and briefly at lunch - most of them being holed up in session after session or out on field trips.
One morning I landed up early to find the trainees (they usually stay in dormitories in the campus) finishing breakfast. One of them was deep into a book and as I passed by, I saw it was "The White Tiger" by Aaravind Adiga. I have been waiting for one of the 4 copies of the book at my local library, but in vain. They are always out. "How's the book?", I asked him. "Good", he said. Conversation over, he buried his nose back into the book and I went back to my desk.
Inspite of the fact that I am a member of a library with a rather vibrant collection, I can't help buying books. Somehow, I have resisted buying this book preferring to wait for it to turn up on the returned book shelf. And I have resisted hard. Copies of the gleaming white hard cover book seem to be everywhere - airports, rail stations, book store fronts and even on foot path vendors.I asked him couple of times on the book's progress. Fine was his terse reply.
And then it was their last day with only half a day's session. Session over, they said their goodbyes and disappeared to their rooms to pack and leave to catch their trains back to Nagaland. We (the staff) were all seated in the long dining room for lunch. Suddenly, this young chap - the reader - ran upto me and said, "I finished it", and thrust the book in my hands and left with a hasty "Bye". And there I was, The White Tiger in my hand, mouth agape. I ran upto him and said - "I am not that fast a reader. Don't you have to catch a train this evening"? "No Ma'am - you keep it", he said and as I gushed my thanks (gushing at my age is such a silly thing but I could do nowt but gush) - he bent his head slightly and put a hand on his heart and said - "you are welcome". Needless to say I had a grin plastered on my face for the rest of the day and evening and late into the night!
God bless you, young man! And may some one else thrust another book that you have been waiting for, one day - it's, I tell you, the nicest of surprises.