Mr Santham and his old RDs

I picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest (RD) magazine for the first time in a clinic when I was in 8th grade. Though I had a crush in my class during that time , RD was my first love. After my introduction to the magazine, I used to go to the clinic in the first week of every month to check if the month’s Reader’s Digest had arrived.

My interest in people has always been minimal. But this doctor became my buddy since he allowed me to sit and read it in his clinic even when I was not sick.

My favorite sections were ‘Life’s like that’, ‘ Quotable Quotes’ , and the little quips that appear randomly after some feature articles. Eventually, the doctor allowed me to take his RD issues home every month. I still remember that cost was the factor that stopped me from getting my own RD subscription (560 for six months or something like that). I also borrowed his entire stockpile after I finished my board exams.

The copies were expensive even in my B. Tech days. I did see some old RDs in Majestic Bus stand, but each of them cost 80 -120 bucks .

I rarely visit the clinic these days, even for a random chat with the doctor. Recent issues fail to evoke the same dedication in me. The jokes , quips and quotes lost their sheen either due to repetition or the lack of witty contributors. But then, I do confess that I have had a long relationship with the magazine.

I did not brush shoulders with this magazine for a long time ( approximately four years). After moving to Chennai , I was browsing for random household stuff on Quiker. I stumbled upon an ad that mentioned Reader’s Digest. Then, I remembered the days when I had hesitated to subscribe them. Now, as a grown up guy with an income, I had all the money I needed to buy RD , that too old ones ! I responded to the ad without inhibitions.

First of all, who the hell would sell their old RD issues ?

The offer was indeed a jackpot irrespective of the cost. On a hot Saturday afternoon , I wandered somewhere in Virugambakkam in order to hunt this old man’s house. After half a dozen calls and an hour of roaming, I failed to find his place . Eventually , we agreed upon a landmark and he picked me up. The registration of his Honda activa started with KA . I asked if he was a Kannadiga. He confessed that he was a Tamilian who had lived in Bangalore for quite some time.

At first sight, it was clear that he was in the process of vacating his house. I was informed that he was leaving for the US to live with his son. We had a brief conversation about blogging and our passion for books. He asked me about my workplace and my employer. To my astonishment , he was a mechanical engineer and a passionate blogger just like me !  His living room was filled with books and magazines. The floor was covered with RDs ranging from 1992 to 2004.

“A couple arrived yesterday and took more than 300 copies from my collection. You just missed it . These are the ones that are left, so choose what you need.” I was slightly disappointed , but I was also super curious.

“But sir, why are you selling it. You can leave it here safely.”

The gentleman replied, “I want deserving people like you to read them. And the magazines will gather dust if they are left in this house. Outside, people will demand more for these copies. But I am selling it a Rs 10 per issue.”

What a rare soul in this bloody ugly world.

*Tears of Joy*

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I looted 55 copies and a novel as well from this gentleman. I had been meaning to write this post for a long time, but for some reason or the other, I had been postponing it. I randomly pick an RD every now and then and flip some pages. Even today, I did the same. Fortunately, I had time, energy and the mood to sit down and write about this pleasant experience in Madras about 91 week ago (as my Instagram post indicates).

P.S. I shall definitely mail this gentleman the link to this post 😀

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