Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Stranger – Part I

The day began as any other day except that it had rained the night before and now a slight drizzle was greeting the morning visitors. I walked up to the balcony to take a breath of fresh air and lazily looked out at the roads. There was some traffic in the roads. It was ‘Friday’ today and as people have plans for the weekend, they tend to get back home sooner and hence to leave sooner, many start for their office quicker in the morning.

‘Not getting ready for office yet, Arjun’ said Ganesh, who was my roommate.

‘Yup. In sometime. Just observing something, I replied. 

‘You and your observation, God only know what you observe’ said Ganesh smilingly. Ganesh makes fun of me saying I had an inclination to observe everything and anything under the sun. It’s just that I get lost in the thoughts seeing something, which I end up explaining as observation to him. 

‘So what plans for the weekend?’ Ganesh asked breaking my chain of thoughts. 

‘Dunno. You tell. Iam fine with anything’ I replied. 

‘Ok, how about watching a movie and then hitting the mall’ asked Ganesh.

That was our favorite hangout place which had its own benefits. With less out-flow of resources (read -money), the potential gains were extremely high. All that was required was time to spend and we had loads of it with us. ‘The usual plan, ha?’ Iam fine with it. Chalo, I need to get ready now.  It’s 8:15 now. The cab pickup is at 9:00 am’. Saying so, I came back into the room and started to get ready. 

Within 30 minutes I was ready. ‘I will call you in the evening, once I leave office’, saying so I started off for office. The cab was waiting at the scheduled place for the pickup. A 15 minute walk to the office took 45 minutes to reach the office because of the morning traffic rush. Still, one can use the extra time to catch some additional sleep.

By 9:45am, I was in my cubicle all set to begin the routine day. It’s been 3 years I have been working as a software engineer and the routine was coding, debugging and testing. 30 days a month, 365 days an year. By then, one gets used to the normal routine. That day would have been another routine day except what happened next. My phone rang. I looked up the display and saw my uncle name. Strange for him to call me at this time, thus wondering I picked up the call.

‘Namaste Uncle. How are you?’ I greeted him

‘Iam good, Kutti. How are you? How is your health?’ [Kutti was my pet name at home]

‘Iam doing well. You tell me, how are everyone at home?’ I asked.

I expected the usual reply of everyone well at home etc etc. Instead I was greeted with silence on the other end. 

‘Uncle, is everything alright?’ I asked.

‘No Kutti. Chitti met with an accident yesterday night. 

I was stunned. Chitti was my elder cousin & he was very close to me. Words were hard to come. ‘How is he now?’ I asked.

‘He has been taken to the hospital. It’s a very serious one and he is critical. All are coming to see him. So thought of informing you. It would be nice if you can come to see him during the weekend’. 

‘Ok. I will be there for sure. Have you informed Dad and Mom?’

‘Yes, they are on their way now’.

‘Please be hopeful. I will pray for his quick recovery’, I said. 

‘Yes Kutti. Our prayers are for his quick recovery. You come home safely. See you tomorrow. Bye’, saying so, Uncle ended the call. 

The rest of the day passed in a daze. My elder cousin, who was 3 years elder to me was more than a cousin to me. We had stayed together for 5 years when we were young. Later, we used to visit each other often and the bonding became tighter. After schooling, we didn’t time to see each other much but we used to connect up over phone. He pursued medical stream while I choose engineering as my interest.  We were planning to connect up in few months, but it never occurred to me that I will be meeting him in such scenario. 

In order to escape the Friday evening rush, by 4pm, I told my manager about the situation and he accepted my request. I went home by 4:30 and by 5 pm had packed the things required for the journey. I checked my purse and saw that I had only 250 bucks left. “I will withdraw money from the ATM for the bus tickets, after reaching Main Bus stand” thinking so, I left for the bus stand with my bag-pack on my back. I called Ganesh on my way and told him about the situation and my plans to leave for my hometown.  The downpour had increased meanwhile, so I opened the umbrella & held it in one hand and continued walking carefully on water logged road. It was cold outside with a slight breeze of air. 

Thinking that having a hot tea would be a good idea, I stopped at the Shanti Bakery which was our favorite eat-out destination & ordered a cup of tea. While I was waiting for it, my eyes fell upon a person moving in the road. I wouldn’t have noticed him if he had been moving like everyone else, he was moving in a wayward manner, and was walking front and back. Sipping the tea, I tried to get a better look at him. A closer inspection revealed that he was old & was trying to get the attention of the passer-by’s. It was as if he was trying to ask something to others. But people were quite pre-occupied with their own thoughts, so very few noticed him or stopped to listen to him. But the man kept on trying. “I wonder what he is asking for” thinking so I paid for the tea and started off. 

I walked on for few feet and then crossed the road to reach the bus stop.  I was reminiscing about my childhood days, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked back to see the same old guy standing before me and his words were ‘Son, Please help me!’

To be contd…


Z said...

I'm worried for your cousin, and also intrigued - please update soon!

Pree said...

Awaiting Part II.. :)

CynicalOxymoron™ said...

Looking forward to part 2

Aragorn said...

@Z, Pree, CynicalOxymoron: Thanks for the comment. Will try to update it soon. :)

Mystic ray said...

Hmmmm.....good suspense.....u wrote pretty well...simple straight from real life situations... keep going ...rock man!

Aragorn said...

@Mystic Ray: Thanks for the comment, MR. Glad that you liked the suspense ;)

Amit Malik said...

Am glad I came here , See great potential .... continue ..wats keeping you ? its long now ...

Aragorn said...

@Amit: Thanks Amit for the kind words. :) I know its been long now. Hopefully in this week !