HOW I PAID TO A TEACHER
I recall the year 1967 when an elderly person entered into my Bookshop greeted with Gandhiji’s quotation displayed near the entry door of the shop.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependant on us – We are dependant on him. He is not interruption on our work – He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business – He is a part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him – He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
I was then at the sales counter to attend to the visiting customers. I greeted him to know his requirement. He introduced himself, “I am a retired school teacher from Gorakhpur, U.P. in urgent need to purchase a Bare Act on Explosive Laws.”
Unfortunately the said Bare Act was not available in stock but before denying his request I offered him a stool to sit. I wanted to exhaust every possible source to arrange the book as my priority was to serve the customer whom I regard as the Deity. I then consulted the Catalogue of Government Publications where the price of “Explosive Manual – Act & Rules” was listed as 8 Annas (fifty paise).
I contacted some Government Publication agents on telephone who told me that it was perhaps out of print but one could take a chance to procure from the sales counter of the Controller of Publications. The teacher was attentively listening to my telephonic conversation with the booksellers. Before I could convey the status, the poor teacher was thoroughly shocked and fainted inside my shop. I sprinkled some water on his face and offered him a glass of water. On regaining consciousness, he told me that he had already tried from the Controller of Publications, and then he narrated the entire episode. He had constructed a small house near a Petrol Pump in Gorakhpur and was living there peacefully with his family for the last 2/3 years.
Now he had received a Notice for demolition from the concerned authorities on the ground that any construction close to a Petrol Pump was not permissible. He had moved the court and his lawyers had asked him to arrange Explosives Act/Manual.
He further told that he had visited a number of Bookshops at Allahabad, Lucknow, Agra and Delhi and his visit to Universal Book Traders was his last ray of hope. On hearing this I was equally shocked and advised him to wait. I then tried to search from the stock of damaged and unsaleable old books dumped as wastepaper. Fortunately I found a copy of the Manual. He asked me how much to pay for it but I frankly told him that my conscience did not allow me to charge a penny and he being a teacher I would be obliged if he accepted it as my Gurudakshina. He had no words to express but I could read the infallible impression of heartfelt thanks on his face. He left taking my visiting card.
After about three months of the above incident, a Librarian in a Law Department at Lucknow visited my Bookshop. He handed over to me a large order of books and a good amount in cash as an advance, and said that he would come next week for taking the delivery. Anyway, I arranged most of the titles which were delivered on his scheduled visit. He again handed over to me an order of a large number of books. I was eager to know about his unusual favour. Then he told me that he was the brother of that Retired Teacher of Gorakhpur who had narrated the entire episode of my arranging Explosives Act/Manual, which helped him miraculously in getting justice from the court in his favour. The Librarian said that he was not doing any favour to me but just trying to pay back the debt his brother owed to me. That was my way of paying ‘Gurudakshina’ and getting its fruit in return for my service to the customer – a Deity.