A Foreteller

8 AM. Every morning. An old man came. To a busy bus stop. In a busy metropolis. And he stood. Below a lamppost. That had long stopped. Serving its purpose. He looked at his shadow. For some time. Whatever shadow there was. And sat down. His daily routine. Slowly men and women came. For their daily rides. To work. And they came in front of him. And stood in silence. He knew them all. By face. By their bus numbers. He raised. His palm. And with fingers. He showed. 1. 2. 5.7.10. The time the next bus would take. To come. For their destination. And they dropped. A coin. Or two. Knowing now. Whether to light. Or not to light. A cigarette. The man never came. On Sundays.

Time as and when

This is a story from long back. In Coomilla. Undivided Bengal. There lived a woman. Alone. She had seen it all. Famine. Flood. Fire. Ravaging villages. And while many had withered. She had lived. For another day. She traveled by foot. To far distances. Village markets. She would walk slowly. From shop to shop. Looking for a clock. Used. Unused. Solid. Broken. Fresh. Soiled. She would pick up a clock. Feeble hands. Trembling. Put her ear to the dial. Listen. Keep it down. With a frown she would walk on. She had no money. She could barely feed herself. Yet she looked for a clock. Market to market. And shopkeepers happily complied. For they had once heard. She was looking for a clock that would tell the time she wanted. As and when.

Friendship

By the lake. They stood. Two trees. In Bhopal. Surrounded by shrubs. Grass. Who knows who was the elder of the two! They were old enough to discuss beyond their ages. Birds came. And sang songs. They had their own favorites. Birds. The shrubs revered them. Grasses were too distant. To even consider their presence. During the day. Lovers came and sat by them. They overheard. All the conversation. And smiled. Laughed in the evening. And at night. When they talked. When birds had all gone to their nest. Lovers to their rest. Grasses soaking in dew. Shrubs busy mending the insects. These two spoke. Of life. Of love. Of their liberty. By the lake. When all other trees were being cut. City wide. They were by the lake. In their safe net. Election came. Came the call for beautification. Of the city. Of the lake. Ugly men came. With axes. With machines. They cut trees. All around. At last they came. By the trees. By the lake. And measured their girth. That evening. As birds sang sad farewell songs. One tree said to the other. “Did you recognize?” The other said “Yes.” That man who drove the saw was a lover one day.

Apologetic

When he heard. That his son had been taken. To the Police station. He came running. Leaving all his work behind. Work unfinished. Customers yelling. For he loved his son. And though he knew his vices. Yet, he was his son. After all. And as he had watched in movies. He knew. Asking for forgiveness pays. So, he asked for pardon. And he knew the steps. Stand with a stupor. Moist your eyes. Mumble a few words softly. And then spring to His feet. The one who is still sitting on a chair. With his uniform on. He followed these steps. Ritually. He even managed to bring tear to his eyes. And as he fell to uniform’s feet. He touched. And apologetically said “Number Seven”. He, the Town Cobbler.

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