UNDER THE NIGHT SKY by Goutham Pattabiraman.
I slipped out of the door, a not so fancy wooden thing put together with lots of nails and extra planks of wood, loads of cardboard sheets stuck together with tape; an average door of any suburban lowlife you might say, closing it behind me and slid my hand into my pant pocket realizing, my eyes shrinking with regret, I had forgotten a very important thing. The keys to my house lay inside my bedroom next to my bed. The bed on which lay the only thing every man fears, his wife, and my wife was no exception to this rule. I didn’t want absolutely to disturb her. I had to get out of the house fast. I was getting late for my work, a stupid one which was absolutely perfect for a guy like me. If you are thinking too much about what I do, I will tell you. I work as a security officer; mostly night shifts, just because I hate staying with my wife, at an apartment complex a good 20 kilometers away from my place. And the work involved sitting in a 2 meters by 2 meters square room all night and just making sure nothing out of the ordinary happened. So now that you know what I do, I still had no keys with me. I needed the key to get back home tomorrow when my wife would have left for her god-forsaken work. “Shit!!” I cursed myself, I will have to go to her office and get the keys back from her. And I hate that place. I look at the door and the door bell, seeking courage, my eyes almost shrinking in horror. I take a step forward to the door and then for some odd reason spin around and walk away from the house.
It was a great night, just a little breeze not too cold. My thin black windcheater would do the job. Adjusting the cap a little, I strolled down my walkway in my usual slow, lethargic manner. Let me tell you a bit about my walk, take a snail and attach a couple of 3 foot legs to them and imagine them walking. A real sight wouldn’t you say. And what more, I walk like a duck; my feet turn inwards as I walk, my shoulders drooping and my hands lying close to limp by my sides. Anyways, not going too much into details of how I walk, I walked past the only car standing in front of my house. It didn’t have much to it. Some stupid car, I never knew much about cars and was never bothered anyways. It was not mine anyways. I had a sudden urge to leave a dent on it, I looked over my shoulders and then down the street just in case anyone else was up. It was past 10 o’clock I wasn’t expecting anyone in my neighborhood to be up at this time, but I still gave a second look and then kicked the car right above the front tire. It left quite a dent and a small thud. I was happy it didn’t make a huge noise. I took a minute to examine my handiwork and with a glee of satisfaction looked at my shoes showing my appreciation to it. It was a good sturdy set of leather boots, not a branded one of course, but a good black one. With a slight chuckle, I removed my left hand from my jeans pocket and looked at the time; I still had enough time to catch the last bus. I gave one last look at the dent and then made my way to the bus stop at the end of the street. I didn’t particularly look at anything while I walked. It was the same old stuff anyways. I walked for about a couple of minutes turned back to see the bus entering the street. “Damn it, it’s early” I said, cursing under my breath and made a dash to the end of the street and crossing the street at the same time. I just made it to the bus stop as the bus pulled over.
I hadn’t run in a while, and the cold didn’t help me in any way. The bus pulled over next to me and the doors swung open, I was still huffing and I glanced upwards to see the bus driver looking at me. ‘What’s with that look?’ I asked myself, he was looking at me as if he had caught a stray dog or something. And I didn’t want any trouble. I just got on the bus, showed him by pass and scanned it through the scanner. No sooner had I done that he revved the engine and started accelerating. The acceleration took me off-guard. It took me a whole minute to get a firm footing on the floor. I looked at him once again, just to be sure, and noticed that he wasn’t concerned about me or my well-being. I didn’t give a damn as well. It took me less than a minute to realize why he had been a little pissed off at me; I was the only passenger on the bus. At the least that was my first impression at that point. It was none of my concern, or was it? I had no idea. I walked carefully using a wide stance and a good support on the railings and headed for the far end of the bus.
It was at that point I noticed a lady, of about 20 or so, sitting at the back of the bus in the most unnoticeable manner. Now that I mention age, I haven’t told you much about me have I? There’s nothing much to know, except for the moment I will let you know that I am a middle-aged man around 30, a thin frame and a decent height. Nothing to either is too proud about or too depressed about. If I were to go in the middle of a crowded street, I would go unnoticed. That is me.
‘Lady’ I said nodding my head in acknowledgement. Such a strange word in all sense isn’t it? For one, I have no idea how any normal people can define a lady from whatever the other term is called. My vocabulary refuses to take any new venture to identify what the other term is or meant. From my experience, I assumed or at least I was made to believe and assume that a lady was a woman of class and carried an air of “a Lady” around her. Huh! Now that makes no sense right. But it all came together the minute I looked at her. Something about her made me say the word and nod my head. I wouldn’t have done it on another day but I did so today. As I passed by her, she gave me one silent look of acknowledgement and then returned to her work, which was doing nothing. I mean she was doing absolutely nothing except stare at her hands which she had on her laps, with her fingers interlocked. If I had know any better, I would have left her at that and proceeded to the end of the bus and occupied a seat. But I had to sit across her.