Mumbai Stories

Posted: April 18, 2014 in Fictional stories

The steam from my coffee cup added a haze to my reading glasses. I looked up from the newspaper my gaze stopping on the balcony opposite to mine; settling on the elderly gentleman reading his newspaper, basking in the morning sun. His wife had died a few years ago. No children. No relatives dropping in. The cleaning lady came by and left. He followed his routine of half-hour morning light, disappearing inside, then coming back to water his plants. His TV screen comes to life for the rest of the day giving him company. Evening he came down to the park bench; sat around chatted with whoever stopped by and left
It became my routine following his routine- whenever my fingers ached from writing, crying for a break- ever since I moved to Mumbai trying to make it on my own. My world usually revolved around the written word with deadlines and dreams of headlines. Occasionally if he caught a glimpse of me he waved and I waved back. Not a word more needed.

I looked up with a newspaper in hand, coffee steaming my glasses. No sign of my friend. I went back to my desk. I didn’t spot him in the park later on either. Sensing something unusual I walked over to his block and knocked on his door. His cleaning lady informed me that he was rushed to the hospital early morning and had passed away by afternoon. Something snapped and I turned away. She called me back and asked me if I wanted to keep his plants. I agreed and lugged them all home feeling a strange emptiness. I knew nothing about him except that his plants meant a lot to him; the way he nurtured them.

These days my morning coffee is followed by watering the plants after which I get immersed in my work. I missed his comforting presence. I looked across and sighed. As I turned away my peripheral vision caught someone waving frantically to me from the balcony above the one I had fixed my gaze on. An elderly lady waved to me and I waved back smiling. My new routine started and I went back to my desk smiling, lost in my world of words again…
Déjà vu!

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