He was sitting in one of the many inconspicuous tea-stalls that plagued the town. A hot tea was served in a tall glass, so different from the sparkling china cups he was used to. He took a sip and studied his surroundings, completely at peace. The washerwomen were starting on their morning rounds. A milkman, walked with his daily sustenance bull tagging along behind him by a rope. The little calf was running amok here and there, following its mother. The usual chitter-patter followed around the tea shop, most of which he couldn't comprehend.
He was dressed in a white, starched kurtha, and matching pajamas, bearing the usual crinkles of a day's walking. It was a sharp contrast to his typical pressed Park Avenue shirts and Giordano suits. Hawaii chappals adorned his feet instead of Gucci shoes. His pocket lined with a splashing leather wallet and his Treo-65 was occupied by some loose change. His array of business cards was left with his suits. A jute shoulder bag accompanied him containing his diary, a Reynolds 045 ball point pen, with some emergency refills.
A mild reflection from the water tumbler kept next to him showed a thick stubble forming on his face. His dark eyes, underneath the bushy eyebrows stared back at him. He actually thought that it now bore some life. He had replaced his Raybans and the Ralph Laurens with a simple shell spectacle – plain, black and covering his eyes.
The playful calf came and took the banana skin, which he had placed next to him. He was surprised by how he was able to even bear the calf so near him. He hated cattle… He gave it a small pet on its head and it went off again to its mother, now chewing on the skin, half hanging from its mouth.
There was no prominent smile on his face. Yet, everyone else passing by and occupying the benches around the area sensed that this guy was happy. And they were happy for him as well. He started to pen down his thoughts again. It had become a habit ever since he started.
xx – xx – xxxx
Today marks a month since I left everything! I remember the day I started off from the office! It was impulsive! It was something that I would never have done. Not after spending 2 years, changing myself from an impulsive being to a thought driven businessman. I sometimes think that the change was probably never required. I never should have curbed my natural instincts. It wasn't meant to be. What has success brought me? I am sure I can answer that – fame, money, women, her! IOW, everything that I dreamed of. But, then it was all a fake. Everything was just a fake. Even her, she turned out to be a fake!
I think I am finally coming in terms with it. What caused it, I still wonder, never repenting a moment. I do know that the last letter was just the tipping point. Things were spiralling downward for a long time. On retrospection, a lot of signs should have meant something. For all that you know, I may even have noticed it, but just ignored it. I have heard that success changes a man! I now feel it. It changed me, didn't it?
"Aur ek chay doon?", asked the chaywalla in the native tongue. He looked up and signalled for one. He was slowly becoming a regular customer here. He loved the warmth of the people and the innocence of them. The chaywalla brought him another large glass filled with the warm liquid and aligned a cigarrete and matches with the tea. He removed the previous cup and wiped the wooden table with a ragged cloth, completely brown and reeking of milk. Nothing bothered him though. He lighted his own cigarette and continued to attend a fresh request from a new entry into the open house.
He glanced into the direction of the new comer. A soul of wrinkles, hobbling on a stick greeted him. Each step of his was a laborious process. First came the cane, caressed by his right hand. His left foot slid slowly about 2-3 inches. He then glanced through his broken spectacles to the horizon to be aware of any changes in the surrounding, followed by his head going down again to will his right foot to cover the distance. Graciously, the chaywalla went to him and guided him in getting comfortable on another charpai. The radio still blared on the speakers spitting and spatting.
The road to this town is beautiful. I never could really notice it in all my previous trips. To think that I would notice while coming on a bus, along with half the town's population sharing the meagre space! I finally feel at peace. It's amazing, the concept of perception.To think that you know-it-all from the very many reports that they generated for me!
I have even found a friend here! Someone I can trust and someone who trusts me. His name is Govind. He can go on and on about things in this town. Probably, the biggest chatterbox I have met in a long time! He even gave a name for me, which I have decided to adopt for my stay here. Kisan uncle. So, whenever someone asks my name, I just convey – Kisan. Although it sounded initially like the ketchup company, these people don't realise it.
Everyday, Govind and me, we have a game of cricket along with his friends – all about the same age, studying in the same school, which was planned to be decimated as well, along with this town. After the first day, they decided not to let me play as I was too big and would hit the ball too hard into the ditch. Now, I just umpire the game. Secretly, I do favor the little chap's team. The best time of the day comes afterwards though, when Govind and me lie on the grass, at a mound not too far away after a lime juice to quench our parched throats, after the game.
He drones on and on about the people, what he wants to become when he grows up, why his father should give him more money, why his mother should start a hotel and a trillion other things. I think I have enjoyed his conversations more than anyone else's! It's amazing to comprehend such a fresh, innocent perspective on things
I think I will go back once though! To completely eliminate all traces of me and this town. Sometimes, I feel guilty for leaving just enough information there. But, they can never get hold of it without my access rights. Technology has its own advantages.
"Aur ek chay doon?", asked the chaywalla again. He shook his two fingers, closed his diary and walked towards the field, where Govind was calling him…