Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about missed opportunities by Hardev Matharoo.
Hardev Matharoo is a young short-story writer based in London. His work attempts to express life as it is actually experienced, with a focus on character and the subjective over plot. His stories take a ‘slice of life’ approach, exploring themes such as love, happiness, friendship and the pursuit of meaning in one’s life.
Hardev began writing when he was about nineteen, on and off, in his own personal notebooks. It was after only a few months of doing this that he realised he wanted to devote himself to writing and began writing more frequently and become more organised in his efforts. ‘The Gold Rimmed Glasses’ is his first story to be published.
‘The Gold Rimmed Glasses’ follows a man reminiscing about a past love.
I remember how I was coming out of university: lofty, strong ideals, but incredibly lazy. I read a lot, got into long-winded discussions with no definite conclusion and generally loafed about. At university you could do all this with impunity but now that I’d left it was frowned upon, and being known as the person who rested on their oars the whole time was a detestable image. I was lucky, you see. Money wasn’t an issue and I had the luxury to figure out what to do with myself. The proper way of doing that is to get out in the world and try lots of things but being inexperienced and indolent, I preferred to lie on the sofa and think my way through it. Funny now how I can’t remember any of the thoughts I had at that time. Nothing very profound came my way and I made no solid conclusions as to what to do with myself.
Motivation is sort of a mystery. No one knows what sparks us to actually get up and take the first step, but suddenly I became sick of having nothing to do so I started helping out at the second-hand bookshop. I used to love walking there. It’s right on the green and I loved passing all the cafes on the way there, trying to construct little stories about all the people sitting there, sipping coffee and chatting to their friends. The shop had a great selection and the workers always treated me well. I was happy to spend hours up in that dusty storeroom or standing by the downstairs till. Although it did get tedious, constantly telling customers that it was out of order and that they’d have to pay upstairs. There’s only so many times you can say that before the words become cold and you begin to say them with a kind of resentment.
But in spite of it all, I liked working in the bookshop. It was honest work. I hear people working in those grand offices mention all the little white lies they have to tell. If you question them, they’ll shrug their shoulders and tell you it’s just the sort of thing you have to do. I’m not a religious person but I’ll be the first to say that lying corrupts your soul. Your job takes up eight hours of everyday so if you have to lie in that time – how can you be anything but a liar? I never had to lie in the shop. There was no game to be played and I could see right in front of me exactly where the fruits of my labour fell, in the same way someone building a house never has to doubt what the actual purpose of their job is.