Tick…Tock…Tick…Tock. It is 05:50 pm. Five more minutes to go. Isn’t the clock running slow? Must be the batteries. Who, in this office, might be replacing the batteries? As the two arms of the clock lined up straight, life was breathed into the clock and it started screaming like a new-born baby. The room was filled with the much awaited noise – the noise for which everyone was holding their breaths. Everyone rose up from their desks and headed towards the exit door just like when ants are enchanted to sugar cubes. He too rose from his desk and walked towards the door.
He steps out of the office and finds himself standing in the pool of mud. Rain! I should have expected this. His black shoes, submerged in the pool of mud, were now turning grey in color. With no second thoughts, he walks along the pathway, now a puddle of rain water, to the train station. The shoe lace is open and now drags along the dirt as he continued to walk through the puddle, carelessly. By the time he realizes that the shoe-laces are untied they are all covered in dirt and he just stares at them for few moments before continuing to walk, the shoe-laces still untied.
On the slippery wet platform of the train station, he left the imprints of his footsteps in dirt. It was like those bread crumbs in the children’s story books, if someone wanted to find him. He looks at the empty bench placed near the lamp-post on the platform. He walks over to the bench and instead of sitting down he starts scratching his shoes against the bench, trying to get rid of the dirt off his shoes. A street dog, who has been watching him curiously for a while, walks over slowly with small steps and stops to sit down on his hind legs next to him. This distracts him from him strenuous yet futile exercise of removing the dirt off his shoes, which by now had dried making the shoes heavier. The two beings do not make any move but just share the moment of the day and the dryness in the air. The dog, suddenly realizing the purpose he came for, walks over to the lamp-post and takes a stance on his three legs. That’s freedom and ill-mannered behavior.
The train halts at the station with a screeching sound. He gets down and walks over to the elevator instead of taking the stares. Perhaps, now no one can find him. Getting out of the station, he walks along the pathway that will take him to his apartment. The road is dimly lit and sort of deserted. The only moving shadows he could see were of those walking to home for some rest before morning shift and of those walking to the train station for the night shift. Crossing the street, he reaches the apartment where he could see kids still playing under the only lamp-post in the garden. The flickering light of the lamp-post made those kids look like inebriated teenagers dancing to the beats of loud music in a discotheque. The only so-called music here was the rustling sound of leaves in the evening breeze with an intermittent barking of street dogs.
After getting out of the elevator on his floor, he walks past couple of houses before reaching his house. There are only three lights spread out through the eleven houses in the lobby. In the faint light, he tries to open the house with the first key from the bunch. The lock didn’t open. Holding the first key in his right hand he tries the second key from the bunch. This time again the lock did not open. Carefully, holding the first two tried-keys in his right hand, he opens the door but this time a sound of click ensues and he enters into a dark room. He throws off his bag on the couch in the living room, places the keys on the table and takes off his mud-laden shoes. He ducks the chandelier hanging in the living room and enters his bedroom. After a while, which seemed like an eon, he emerges in his night wear and dodges the chandelier to enter the kitchen. He carries two dishes from the kitchen into the living room and places them on the table before the couch. He unwraps the take-away food packet that he had got on his way and fills up those dishes, carefully.
His eyes are now straining due to the constant staring at the only source of light in the room – TV. With heavy eyelids, he switches the TV channel to another one and then switches back. There are only two TV channels – both of them showing late night news. The distant noise of the kids playing in the garden fades away until there’s no sound. After a while, the lights of many a houses in the entire apartment start to go off, one after another. It’s time for bed. As he climbs into his bed, he realizes that he’s still missing one slipper. Laying down on his back, he stares at the ceiling – a small plaster was hanging, only a tiny part attached to the ceiling. It was like someone holding onto his dear friend so he wouldn’t fall down. He continued to stare at it, eagerly awaiting that historic moment until his eyes succumbed to sleep.
Image by Hamed Masoumi