Towards Life!

Long Story... Cut Short.

The six of us ensconced comfortably around a circular table at the center of the restaurant which had an immaculate centerpiece decorated with flowers... a profusion of bold yellow, emerald green and clear blue. And as it always is in those stylish Mumbai restaurants, the ambience was beautiful; glamorous. The whole setting looked like a picture too perfect... like a painting heralding the entry of spring.

We ordered our first set of drinks and juice. We talked. Things none of us would remember after that day; things we wouldn’t care to remember. Small Talk.

On instinct, I turned around. It took a minute.

Her hair was shorter now, her glasses hipper. But her smile was all I needed to see... it... it was exactly the same.


When you run into someone from the past, there is an initial moment of surprise. Then, a train of memories runs over you, at a frantic pace.

Memories of the time when you played through your doors because you weren’t allowed outside in the heat; the mornings when you sent her flowers; the night you were caught making out behind the community hall.

Of how difficult it was to lie, when you looked at her in the eye.

Of how a smart, strong girl like her took precisely a moment to forgive your worst demeanors. Even when you knew, it was your fault.

And of how you were sure you actually felt your heart break.


I stared at her.

I wanted to grab her and run.

She had made me believe I deserved nothing more. That I wasn’t worthy of more. Not attractive enough, probably. Not good enough, obviously.

It was getting cold.

Two strangers walking in the street. By chance two separate glances meet.


Memories of the times when you stared into those eyes so blue that they looked like some one colored them with a crayon.

Of how you were selfish and possessive, that one time, and it wasn't okay.

Of the time you waited on the thick dew-covered grass.

And how you were left in the cold, looking at those big blue cold eyes.

And how heavy and humid the air was.

And how you managed to get on to your bike, and managed to get home.


She left the restaurant accompanied by three other people. Husband and in-laws, probably.

I walked to her chair, now empty, put my hands on it, and waited.

Y and P walked up to me with comforting words and broad shoulders.

And then I returned... through our silence... to my life.



The young man stood at the edge of the street, listening to the muffled sounds of a generation trying to keep its pace with life. Shifting his bag to the other hand, he stared down the road that stretched endlessly into the horizon like a guide into hopelessness. A cough rolled away into the din.

The gray-stubbed derelict stirred. His body decorated in intricate patterns, with dirt. His mud caked feet numb from the years of wandering. He stared straight, with his yellow eyes and the purple half-moons beneath, at the young man... who saw the derelict stir, from the corner of his eyes. He knew he would come. He knew he would whine.

“Would you help a poor old man?”

He heard the derelict rising. His hand held on to his chest by a sling; a dirty cloth draped around his waist. The hum of life in the fast lane rose up towards the Heavens.

He looked to the tramp. He was staggering. Falling. With a blind, sudden rush, the young man rushed to him and dragged him to the bench against the wall. He quickly pulled out a ten-rupee note from his wallet and stuffed it into a stench soaked pocket. Then, he picked up his bag and boarded a bus... he nestled in a corner, pretending to sleep. When the bus finally reached his stop, he walked home. A good four km. Because the ten rupees had been meant for an auto.


The world was in chaos. People were killing. People were dying. The papers poured the cries of desperation, agony, and pain into the drawing rooms of the world. The young man picked up his newspaper glancing at the headlines screaming death. At a remote corner of the newspaper, deprived of attention grabbing headlines, was a small news item. About an old derelict waiting near a bus top… set on by strangers… sprayed with kerosene… ignited.


Would you help a poor old man?