For another day
Flies buzzed their way into Kee Huat Coffeeshop,fleeing from scorching heat .
Dazzled by fluorescent lights,they seeked their own death.Fat,brown geckos with yellow alert eyes watched,full,unperturbed,from the ceiling as bodies of burnt flies fell onto unswept floor.Spiders built webs by whims.Daddy longlegs glided freely across coffee coloured tiles.
Rectangular shaped glasses,carpeted with dust,clung loosely to its rusty panes.The shop owner,determined to curb further expenses,resolved to keep the window panes sealed,just in case,the aged glass simply decided to give way to time,and crumble.
He depended solely on three industrial wall fans for ventilation. However,their iron blades were smothered with dust too,resulting in circulation of more dust,leaving the shop enclosed in a misty milieu.
Warm weather combined with inefficient ventilation, left trickles of sweat,
on the brows and hairlines of three men, occupying three different wooden tables.
The shop,albeit its imperfections,leaning almost towards a state debilitation ,failed to deter its loyal customers.Each arrived,with dire need for seclusion.No one spoke to each other.They retreated into their own mind,bogged by their own thoughts.
On that particular afternoon,A man walked into the shop.
His eyes,held desserts;dry,vast,parched,imbued with emptiness and deep pining.
An aura of heaviness,impending doom,he wore like a dull grey blanket around him.
His shoulders sagged, his steps staggered under the burden of an oppressive sorrow.
A glow of recognition,shone on the shop owner’s eyes.This man, was a loyal customer.His orders were placed before him,as he took his seat.The man paid the exact amount,without a word,contributing to the existing silence.
His lips quivered,fingers trembled into a rampant rhythm,as he unscrewed the bottle cap.He took immediate gulps,quenching desperation,ignoring the bronze liquid that seeped from the corners of his mouth,tracing his chin,neck,before dissolving into his thick graying chest hair.
His eyes,caught his reflection on a huge mirror that hung on the wall,opposite his table.It must have been placed there for superstitious reasons,he thought to himself.At the same time,he couldn’t help examining the image reflected by the mirror.An image that was entirely his.It startled him.He deliberately avoided mirrors,for reasons he failed to justify to himself.To shave,he used a small,round,Chinese mirror,which allowed him only the view of his chin and neck.
But this mirror captured the truth;his dwindling appearance, as if he was withering under the heat of his life.
He saw the core of him,his pain.
He mulled over his reflection:
“Only this is real.This pain.This loneliness.”
““My cries are the cries of a mute-existent, yet incomprehensible”
“Only I feel them,hear them,see them”
“Only I exist here,In this hollowness,depth,where the fire of hell burns, burns me alive, engulfing my mind,-my identity,desires.”
The man recalled a time,when his thoughts,were alive,vivid.Thoughts that embodied,his dreams,his dream for his children.
He smiled.His children.He relished their smiles,precious laughter.
“Ammu’s long hair,her silence”
Sorrow shadowed his face again.
“She hides from me,I know”
“Khanna’s innocent questions”now he thought about his younger daughter.
“They are so distant from me now.My children,always mine,but I am no longer their father.She took them away!!”
Fury.Fire.He took another gulp
“That woman!she took it all! including my peace!”
Her voice,ever critical,laced with greed,grazed his mind.The pain,unbearable pain,inflicted him physically too.
He felt helpless,as if caught in a rose bush,cornered by thorns.
Clamorous, screeching bats, hovered around image.Her voice,fuel on fire.
“Death would extinguish this fire, permanently” Again he found himself reaching towards death for consolation,and dismissing it as thoughts of his children appeared before him again.
He took a gulp,then another.He held the bottle in front of him,gazed at it as it
was a gift bestowed by god.
“This…” He thought as he savoured the bitterness on his tongue, the heat coursing his throat,the lightness in his mind,the warmth on his face..
“I need this miraculous cure..yes.. .”
“This…”he took another gulp..
“This would extinguish the fire..
“Numb the wounds
“Bribe the screeching bats to silence
“With this,I can exist”
For another day,He had convinced himself,that he had found a perfect solution for his pain.