Walking down the street in the cloudy atmosphere, with rain dropping down in intervals reminding that future is not as clear as the summer sky. That street opposite to his office never leads to nostalgia but today with black sleepers in fair legs, that muddy street jammed with RTC buses and rough riders took him to that tea store in the corner. The cigarette in his left hand was silent as the smoke never found the way to get out. He never tried cigarette, this was his first time. As all beginners he was nervous and shy too, he bought it from the small tea shop that usually sells cigarette and gutkha and earns more from it than tea. He never hurried to ignite it rather choose to walk with cigarette in his hand and his mind was furnace of thought burning at the highest point though his body was not only calm but appears to be freezing. The cold wind blowing in the monsoon was delivering more anxiety than serenity to him. He walked further on the same street questioning himself with cigarette on his red lips. Isn’t serenity a form of anxiety? He asked himself. The cigarette didn’t met its destiny yet as he failed to find any match box or a lighter. Holding cigarette itself is relaxing, he said to himself. Thus he never bothered to find a match stick.
The sudden honking reminded him that he is off the footpath now and was walking right in the middle of the muddy street. He repositioned himself. What was it that derailed me without making me feel that? He once again intrigued. The traffic, the flow, the haste of drivers, the restless honking, overtaking from all side in the narrow road is what a road can witness as its fate. He suddenly kept the cigarette back in his shirt pocket, the blue striped shirt which he loves the most. That eatery came in his way, he entered inside without giving a second thought, and the reason was simple it started drizzling and he left his rain jacket at home while leaving in hurry though he felt that he is missing it he never bothered to pick it up.
The shop was silent though not empty. Every table was occupied either by some couple or men waiting for someone, may be for becoming a couple. Do you have Pav Bhaji? He asked at the counter. Yes, we have replied the man in his middle ages. I want one and also a tea, he said. Ok! Reply the cashier. He gave the token to the man standing still near the tava. Make one pav bhaji he said in a very cold voice and find a place to stand and wait. Few guys in their twenties were sitting in the table next to the tava. As their laughter’s echoed in the hotel, he again went back to his imaginative question bank. What make them so happy? He said to himself discretely. They all look poor from their dressing, I guess I have more expensive shirt, he said to himself
Is laughter a sign of happiness? Not always he replied to himself. Sir, your pav bhaji is ready said the man. He gave him a smile and thanks with no emotion. He took his plate and went to last table. He ate alone with no one to share neither his plate nor his questions. The traffic signal adjacent to the hotel witnessed its own end as the traffic became restless with the pacing rain. Everyone was rushing towards their destiny without minding the color of signal – red, green or yellow.
Shall I try the cigarette now? He thought as the cigarette in his shirt pocket was asking for justice. But there was no shop around and the rain was heavy to cross the road and find a matchstick. He suddenly jumped to the counter and asked for the tea token. Those boys were still there, they were in best of mood. He thought to sit with them and find his answer at least share his time, not the sorrow. But he was reluctant, the reluctance to share – share not only feelings but time was his defining feature. The enigma was his expression of feeling itself. He took the tea and sat just near the shade from where the rain water was rolling down to the ground. He felt close to this, his memory sent him some signal from past. He smiled and then closed his eyes. He sensed someone close to him, someone very close. In his deep brown eyes the dreams were unending. He opened his eyes very slowly with a feeling that someone is waiting for his open wide eyes. He took his time, the sound of splash and the continuous honking was meaningless for him. He took the first sip with a style, took a pause and pulled his cigarette out again – did a rehearsal of smoking and again kept it back in the pocket. He felt an attachment with the cigarette, the cigarette which conceals untold secrets and choose to become smoke but never reveals what it contains. Does the array of smoke wants to tell us something? He questioned again.
The cigarette with white filter was becoming a part of his self; he felt an intimacy with it, a sense of holiness for that cigarette ignited within him. The cigarette romanticizes with smoke why not to romanticize with cigarette itself, he said to himself and smiled.
What makes an evening complete? A cigarette, tea, rain and beloved this time he questioned himself and replied without giving himself a time. He suddenly thought to walk back to his office – the bigger reality of physical existence. He took the same route as he passed the half way, a girl in her teen age with her hair witnessing her play with rain and her dirty clothes were expressing her romance with fate. I am hungry she said with a pain. Her voice break his deep silence embedded with the train of question. He searched his wallet but he found nothing in it. Impulsively he took that holier cigarette from his pocket, gave to that girl and walked further ….