On that Sweltering May Afternoon

On a sweltering May noon I stood there waiting for my bus to Pune. There passes by a man in his late sixties, old and haggard. He was carrying a satchel which was tattered at its ends as if waiting to be finally put to rest. I was enjoying the weekend’s first cigarette trying to beat the heat under the shadow of a dilapidated general store. The man stops by, looks at me, his eyes peering through his thick glasses as if trying to recognize the face of a long lost son. Then suddenly wrinkles appeared on his face with the onset of a frown. He said in an ancient reproachful voice, “Its better you give up. You are too young and there are a lot of things you have to do.” All I could muster was, “Thank you for your kind advice sir.” And he just shook his head and walked on as if he got the same old answer. As if he had found many sons on his foot journey and none of them gave him an answer he desired.

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I don’t like wishes. They have a nature to put a definite shape to desires you don’t want complete control over, but you would like them to take a shape on their own. On the other hand, hope, is something I believe in. It subsumes a lot many desires in their very own form. Uncertain like life, with its own course, but you grappling with the steering at all times, unsure of what’s going to happen, but knowing the general direction.

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The evening slowly dissipated into the night with the wind making gentle admonitions to the lowly shrubs. The wind still brings with it faint memories of her. I could still hear her voice in faint whispers through the dying nights, almost sacred of losing what we had between us. Her eyes grim with the reality and boring straight into mine, almost hurting. She held onto me like I was her last hope. This was the city where I’d thought that life would stop being that whore and become my own. All it brought back then was pain.

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