Bughum’s Father

‘You had a father: let your son say so’

~ Sonnet 13, William Shakespeare

My father wasn’t a great man. He was a great illusion of a man. He was an amazing failure. There wasn’t a thing he hadn’t failed miserably in – education, business, marxism, physics, sex. And I am not being too harsh. To say nothing of him would be harsh. He had notions of greatness which if he would have ever got chance to execute would have proved not to be that great. He was a product of an age which had made a sheer profitable business out of thinking out loud. Not a thinker – though he tried hard at it – he was just loud.

I rememeber my father one time when my mother was talking to herself and I was playing hard to get with the bees. And the evening was pouring down heavily. And sky was all betrayal and despair. And the meaning kept disappearing. And the dogs were desperate. Unreason ruled. I remember my father. If foolishness had a face and it wasn’t beautiful it would have looked like my father. Though he was not ugly. His face was all chin – and foolishness. I remember him becoming his torn tweed jacket, making pretty foreground to the shit coloured Government quarter, and almost thinking out loud: I am moving to Kashmir. Delhi disappoints me. My mother kept talking to herself. I continued playing hard to get with the bees. He went inside. And he never left.

Whatever be the failures of this civilization, a failing, desperate man beats them all. I remember my father, his nose upturned to call the rain, his hairy ears deaf to the point of being utterly noisy, his eyes losing the power to pretend, his lips never much there. I remember him a painter’s dream. And a writer’s muse. And a sculptor’s nightmare. I remember my father. That’s enough accomplishment. Isn’t it?


Beautifully Big Butterfly

Let me tell you a story.
Let me digress.
From what?
From the plot.
There is no plot. You didn’t even begin.
Let me begin.

I once killed a butterfly. Develop your characters. I once killed a beautifully big butterfly. Describe the butterfly. I once killed a beautifully big butterfly that had colors to rival anything that had colors. You seem disinterested. I once killed a beautifully big butterfly with a face like that of a child, and with colors that seemed would drop off the surface of its wings. You just killed a child. I did not. I killed a butterfly. That had the face of a child. No, not ‘had’. It had a face like that of a child. It’s a simile. Nothing’s a simile. Psychologically, you just killed a child. You cannot fool a reader. Come on! You want this story to be about the travails and tribulations of a man on a child killing spree? No! God, no one’s killing children here. This is a story about compassion and morality. A story of a young boy. Then why are you killing butterflies. How is it compassionate and moral? And boys are young. There’s nothing like a young boy. Shut up. Because later, the boy would see the dead butterfly on the ground and would realize that he had made a horrendous mistake and would take a vow to never kill butterflies again. You think your boy is capable of such a vow. He was quite into killing that butterfly. He was explaining the colors on it better, and with more lucidity, than a psychopath. You told me to describe the butterfly! You told me I was disinterested! But I never told you to describe it like a psychopath. Okay. I once killed a butterfly and — Don’t kill it in the first line itself. Let it fly. Let it show its colors. There was once a beautifully big butterfly with colors that seemed would drop off of the surface of its wings. And your boy kills it? Yes, but it was an accident. He was trying to get hold of it. He wanted a closer look. Your boy’s a psychopath. No, he is not! He’ll repent later. Later. And untill then, he’ll be on an unstoppable killing spree. There is no killing spree. He accidently killed a single, tiny butterfly! Do not lie. You told that it was a beautifully big butterfly. I don’t rememer you saying it was tiny. And who knows that it was the only butterfly your bloodthirsty boy killed. What do you want me to do? I just do not want your boy to come off as a ruthless, cold murderer. He will not come off as that. He kills a butterfly and then he repents. That’s the story. Then its not a very good one, is it? The world will collapse if there is one more story of a repentant murderer. Make your boy a saviour. A saviour. A moral, compassionte man who tried to save a beautifully big butterfly, and it was pouring down heavily, and the butterfly had one of its wings stuck in a thorn or something, but, unforunately, despite his best efforts, he could not and — But! — Or wait, he did. He did save one butterfly but could not save the thousand others in that surreal garden where butterflies somehow die. But. Do it! Are you sure about this. A story about a boy out to save butterflies of this planet against all odds? I have never been surer. Okay. Begin. I once saved a butterfly. Develop your characters. I once saved a beautifully big butterfly.

Killing Lizards

In the course of this conversation between a father and a son there will be blatant lies, veritable facts, and some truth, or perhaps no truth at all.

Night, somewhere.

– I taught you how to catch lizards – you learnt how to kill, yourself. I must have also told you that they would never bother you and wouldn’t care if you kill them or not. They won’t be sad if you kill them. They won’t be happy you if you don’t. They won’t be anything else leaving what they actually are. If there’s one thing one can learn from them that’s that. And that’s what’s special in lizards, and even bugs and other lesser ugly looking things. They never stop being themselves. While a tiger would roar just when whipped to roar, a lizard would drop its tail and vanish, or would fall trying vanishing. They never get tired of being themselves. They are what they are. Body and soul. And you don’t have to talk to a lizard to find out if its angry or hungry or scared – and they are only these three things – it is for everyone to see, this state of blissful unity. And it is unmixed – a scared lizard would never be a hungry lizard.
– So I shouldn’t kill them?
– Why shouldn’t you? I was just saying they don’t care whether you kill them or not.
– So I’m not bad when I kill them.
– No you are not. But just being ‘not bad’ should’t be enough for you.
– Then why did you stop me from killing one?
– Because you can kill it later.
– I can?
– Obviously. But first, look at that lizard over there.
– Just look?
– Yes, and don’t think about it.
– But –
– Shhh. Look at it there at the wall. Just take a peaceful, unthinking look. Don’t even think that you don’t have to think.
– But I can’t stop thinking.
– Alright. What exactly are you thinking?
– A number of things. I am thinking how its funny when they drop their tails.
– I told you not to. You shouldn’t think. It is very important.
– But its hard not to.
– You see that tree at the turn where the last lamp-post is. Run to that and come back as fast as you can.
– Its more than a kilometre.
– Go.
– You want me to do that? Its dark.
– You’d get your answers.

– Don’t sit. Stand straight. Breathe, slowly.
Now, look at that lizard. What do you want to do with it?’
– Nah-thinh.
– Why nothing? Don’t you wanna watch its tail drop?
– Noh.
– Why? I’d want some more words from you.
– ‘Cause I wanto sit dow, down. I, I want to sit dow, sit down, andrinksome water.
– And, what about the lizard? Its wriggling tail?
– I doun know.
– What is it that you don’t know?
– I doun kay-a, care. Wah-ter, please.
– Sure.

– You know why you couldn’t think of anything else but water?
– Because I was tired and thirsty.
– Don’t you think there’s something more to that?
– What? Like something where I am aware of every single tissue of my body? You believe that, seriously?
– No. But I believe in something more preposterous.
– What?
– I believe that it isn’t a blessing to have all your senses intact or being aware of every single tissue in your body. What would you accomplish with that information? Its all bullshit. But God! if I could only see and not feel, hear and not see, smell and taste and not see hear feel, and do not feel absence of what is absent, it would be perfect. But right now its like a brilliant group of rogue senses that betray at any given chance. And I don’t want that. I would want to be without distractions.
– Like a lizard?
– Much like them.
– You truly want that?
– Want what?
– To be senseless?
– Yes.
– Should I want that too?
– How would I know? The greatest and possibly the worst thing about any truth is that it is only yours, completely and painfully so. You’d have to search for your own truth. And you’d have to work hard for it.
– I feel I should start with lizards.
– Killing them?
– No. I think not.

An Ordinary Mind

Dear T,

Lets start from where we left. Rather, you left – in a hurry, as if the world depended on you buttoning your shirt. You jumped off the window and you ran to save someone. No one knows who. Neither do you. But you ran, nevertheless – you were always a great runner, and its a pity you waste that on saving people who do not, in the least, want to be saved – away from me. You must remember you were thinking of running away even when there wasn’t a hint of confusion between our bodies – when our noses sauntered hand in hand and your lips were like a fallen leaf lapping every ounce of the infinite space, before falling on its back. I could have made you the tree in the last image but trees don’t run and also, a fallen leaf carries with it the utter imbecilic insignificance and crippled roving of your thoughts that night. What was I thinking? you must think, if you have forgotten. I’ll tell you, because I have not.

Not only can I read minds but I can write them. And you were lucky I left yours untouched that night. But it was hard not to look beyond those brown eyes. Last eight years there hasn’t been a night I haven’t gone back to that serene confusion in your eyes, to that moment when I decided I would have a look what’s beyond the shiny surface. You remember you always told me that you were just an ordinary man, and I always strictly disputed that and told you that you had the most beautiful mind. Well, that night I came to know that you were right. I was seeing the inordinate ordinariness of an astonishingly singular mind, almost special, if I can say, in its singularity. I started noticing the incongruities of my body – the little more hair here, the little less hair there, the insolent rise of the nose, the disastrous fall of the breasts – that stood like absolutes in your eyes, and I ended up, stranded, twice removed from myself. Its not that you weren’t trying. You were. You always wanted to get past the carnal pitter-patter but the sheer ordinariness of your mind doesn’t let you go beyond that extra facial hair. I sometimes almost pity you. It must be frustrating to have all the strength in the world but still not enough to face a soul.

But what was I thinking? I remember that too. As I told you earlier I decided to look what’s beyond. And as I found nothing but a vivid nightmare, as real as your nose, I started hating – first myself, then you. And that hatred was not something abstract, it was right there, flesh and blood, holding you and kissing you – it was like being pregnant with it. I could feel my blood curdling to create another me inside my body and I felt it grow and take hold of my entire being, right from the red meaty parts to the little hair on my lip that I saw in your eyes.

It was good that you left, or else I would have killed you. And what would have been the fun in that? There’s nothing that salvages an average moralistic mind as death. More fun is to see you live, while others die. More on this in the next letter, or newspaper – whichever comes first.


P.S. Something on my soul; flourishing.

This letter is a part of a superhero series that I’m working on. To know more about the man this letter is addressed to, click here. And the lady who has written this letter, well, I hope I will soon write more on her.

Bughum’s First Lady

Between the binding spirals of this diary is written between.

What has gone
is going to be
I’ll draw with my toes.

How is it that you never fall?

A child is the sweetest dictator if there is one. Puffy cheeks, brilliant lips, fiery eyes, conspicuously risen tummy – pointing fingers, demanding trials, mauling innocent Barbies – mutilating, destroying, executing. A child creates the world in his own image and gets rid of it as soon as her world collides with other more detailed, strange worlds. That’s her first lesson in democracy. But it is hard to get rid of what you have created with your own little clumsy hands. So the world remains, with all its grotesqueries and wild dreams and collected stones. The new democratic, egalitarian world of the growing child is always brimming with the possibilities of a rather violent military coup, waiting to transcend conformity, and establishing again, a conformity of a transcendental nature, with superlative principles and ideals and the similar nonsense. To sum up: a child is the living proof of why humanity hasn’t gone far. And to further sum up: I hate children.

I had a pretty gory childhood. I came out covered in blood. Everyone was so happy that they forgot to wipe all that blood off my nose. I must have sneezed my larynx out when finally, someone had the courage to do the obvious. I was wiped and wrapped and served to my mother who devoured me with her teary eyes. She was crying because she knew I was way more beautiful than she could ever be. She brought her nose closer to mine. She was trying to be the archetypal mother image. I sneezed sarcastically. How could such a small thing sneeze, she thought. She was hurt and from that day on nothing remained as it used to be between us. She always wanted me to be as I was, when I was inside her, you know, for nine months and fourteen days – feeling secure, being small, not talking much. But I sneezed. My mother never wanted a son who would sneeze. Well, to be frank, I never wanted a mother who wasn’t much to look at. We both grew up hating each other but we never fought – we just left each other to live – and we behaved as if nothing ever happened between us.

The strangest thing happened when I grew young and she grew small: I started to look like her! – her, when I saw her from the outside for the first time, when I sarcastically sneezed. She died of a cold. Her nose could not keep up with the changing world. I was there when her body was leaving her. How could one so small and old be so beautiful? I thought. I couldn’t resist from bringing my nose close to hers – she sneezed as I did so (she was always a bit theatrical). When I was burying her I could see that I was burying a very beautiful face – a face that outdid mine in its wet nose beauty, as beautiful as I once was. And in the end, she was herself what she wanted me to be – secure, small, not talking much. I was crying because I knew she was way more beautiful than I could ever be.

Bughum’s First Love

People often mistake acidity for love, for both include a burning chest, and a near-smoking heart. It was love, unfortunately, in my case. And I was able to make the distinction because I’d always been acidic as long as I could remember. If more than two-thirds of our body is made of water, I can well assure you that the rest of it in my case was pure acid. I knew my acidity well. Love burnt different. It was a little lower, the fire, near the juicy core of heart, where it tried to smoulder a thing which was inside another thing which, as mentioned before, was made of more than two-thirds of water. It was rather an ambitious coup – though the surplus acid must have helped.

It was like the first headache, first love was. Do you remember your first headache? I do. I distinctly remember. Before that I did not pay much attention to my head – I’ve always been much of a nose-man – but the pain – as of someone, out of sheer whimsy, deciding to renovate the space inside your head was shifting your membranes, often dropping them, nailing portraits of an abstract oddity, on their walls, and un-nailing them because they ‘just didn’t go with the pink flesh there’, dragging heavy things from one corner to other, leaving them midway too, to increase the volume of the Radio, as some obscure metal-band were screaming their lungs out– made me aware of the astonishing pain-in-the-ass-ness of the head. My first love felt a lot like my first headache – a little worse.

And since it is customary and since you’d want to know, I’d have to – though I wish to God I didn’t had to – talk about this person I first fell in love with. To begin with, she was a she. ‘Was she beautiful?’ you’d ask. ‘Are icebergs beautiful?’ I’d ask. ‘Well yes they are, but they are too cold and can kill you,’ you’d answer. ‘There’s your answer,’ I’d answer. She was one of those women who looked very pretty on a balcony. She called me Bug. She loved cauliflowers. She ruined me. If there ever was a Bughum left after futile rigours of politics and communism and fencing, she made sure nothing remains of him. Oh! She was as cunning as a lizard – the really clever lizards, not those foolish ones who drop their tail at every visible opportunity. I loved her as Beckett loved nothing.

It was a hot Thursday evening when I could muster enough gut to talk to her. She was sitting at the balcony of a several storied house, like Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, clad in something very rich. There was a party that was to start. We both were invited. I saw her, and I started seeing things. For instance, I started seeing that it was ‘meant to be’ and that something ‘larger’ was ‘on work’ to have made us come to the same party. If only I could have seen that the host had invited almost the entire nine planets to the party.

So, I saw her and ‘Uh,’ I said, and then, did not say a word for a very long time. (I have always believed that first there was the word. And then, there was an utter confusion as what in God’s name to do with it, as it was so completely useless). Then, to elaborate on my ‘Uh’ I said something profoundly silly: ‘A more brilliant nose was never made. Will you marry me?’

I was standing there like a cloud bursting with sweat. My eyes were open to their limits, against the will of the entire body, especially legs that wanted to run away to a more secure place where there were no parties and girls with brilliant noses. But I did not move even a millionth of an inch. I stood there, with my entire soul and body, waiting for an answer. She smiled, and then laughed, and then laughed a lot. And when she was done laughing, even she said something profoundly silly too: ‘Maybe, I will, if I like your name. What is your name?’

‘Bughum. Lwoyoblrig Bughum.’

Lwoyoblrig Bughum is an out-of-work balladeer and an ex-wannabe politician. To know more about him click here. Bughum’s nose, as you must have gathered, runs quite in opposite directions to his brain. In his own words you can read it here. Bughum also dabbled in communism, unsuccessfully, for a while. To read about his radical political philosophy click here.

The First Meeting


(an hour has passed)

– Do you write often?

– Oftenesque.

– What have you written recently?

– Kind of going through a horrendously draughty spell, writing wise, I mean, sometimes, I think – when I am reading Musil or Kafka – that I should drop it all off, and just come out plain honest to myself crying out loud, ‘You cannot write even if the Muses fucked you, you pretentious little fucker.’

– But then you do keep writing. What saves you? Or does anything save you at all?

– God, save! Does anything save me! – ‘save’ would be too comforting a word. I know that, in this life, I’d never be satisfied with whatever I write or with whatever others write, and even if by some baffling miracle I become satisfied at some point, I’ll give the smug feeling a week’s time and it will rot before me as morbidly as something dead. There is no saving a writer, or one who pretends to be one. I can only hope, in future, for some kind hippie critic to somehow get ‘touched’ – how I hate that word – by what I write and convince some hundred other hippies to believe that it is something that ‘touches’ them. And I do not see that happening till the proverbial ‘end of the world’. So something saving me is out of question, but ironically, and a sweet ironically at that too, the act of writing really comes close to it, even if for a very, very short time.

– (smiling) So, what has fake-saved you, recently?

– (laughing a little) Well let’s see. I wrote something about an indecisive man, a really shallow, superfluous bore, who thinks he is good at flirting, and how one day he decides to leave everything and goes to Kashmir for some transcendental quest to find himself.

– Does he find himself?

– Yes he does. He finds himself to be a boorish pervert, an immaculate lier, a heartless cheat, and yet a very uninteresting person in general. He gets so fucking horny one time that he thinks of doing it with the Himalaya in his dreams. And then not to kill himself of ennui he starts fishing, and gets pretty good at that. I am yet to finish it. May be I’ll round it all off with a really moving scene of him trying to fuck an open door.

– You are a cynic.

– Who’d you want : a bunch of well meaning optimists, liking a facebook page to stop rape, conserve water and – Oh thou Irony – electricity, and to add to it an international zing sharing a link to free Tibet, or, some ruthless cynics, who are the only ones who can see a problem as a problem and not narrow it down to something as a fucking shallow ’cause’ to ‘support’.

– But you aren’t ruthless.

– Ha! I know people who are. I can arrange a meeting if you want. They’d be so excited to see a girl! Some of them will not even find you intolerable.

– Do you find me intolerable?

– (smiling) Mildly.

– (laughing) Do you want some more coffee?

– Sure.

– What else?

– Nothing. I’m full.

– I mean what else have you written recently apart from that curious tale of the wannabe Himalaya fucker.

– Oh, that. Huh. Yes, I wrote something about being on the bad side and being on the good side.

– Yes?

– It is a kind of a handy test to ascertain which side you are on. It is rather very interesting: if the side you are on acts all intelligent, does not entertain criticism or suggestions of any kind, is loudly religious, has lots of men, and has women who aspire to be men, supports uniformity, propagates conformity, is pretty sure of itself, is rabidly enamoured of an image – be it of a nation, a person, a religion, a God, or a cricket team, – is never shy of defeating humans to uphold a non existent ideal, is unabashedly capitalist (a short pause as the coffee arrives) is relentlessly communist, is revising history, is banning books, is fascist – come on! – is dynastic, believes in Plato and his shit about forms and ideals, generalises, tries to explain – by which I mean is shameless enough to explain absurdities of human life with a straight face and then sell off their explanations as the only truth, – is biased, is ostensibly unbiased, is unbiased but only when convenient, is demanding a substantial fee for admission, has weak geography and weaker history, uses the word ‘justified’ somewhere in the same paragraph which also has ‘killing’ in it, is populist – because believe me, there is nothing as a popular opinion, only the powerful opinions gobbling up the smaller ones, – is concerned with what people do with their spare time, or in their bedrooms, is a management institution, is a big sucker for words as ‘performance’ and ‘productivity’, while doesn’t give a fuck on how you feel working for it, is inspiring young men and women to be something else that they are not, is out there to make clones of them in its own image, then, most probably, you are on the bad side.

(They are religiously sipping their coffee. A longer pause.)

– That was a really long list. What do you think makes a good side?

– (sips in one big last gulp of coffee to finish it off) Uncertainty.

– (laughs) It’s good. Will you write more on it?

– I think I will, but it won’t matter, you see, I don’t really want to write much on politics and religion, and even if I do I don’t want people to read what I write on politics and religion. I put it in the same category as that of fondling oneself in public. One shouldn’t do that.

– You mean to say that a person’s political and religious beliefs should not be on display for everyone to see?

– Yes, kind of. (an undefined pause of a minute or so) I should go now.

– Okay.

– Will I see you again?

– Do you want to?

– (smiling) Yes. Why not?

– (smiling) Why not, then?

There Will Be Words

A married man must come back. The little excursions of the day must end. The roving mood should be killed and buried. Friends, even the foe-ish ones, should be left in mourning. The feet  should be convinced that they can make the journey – the most tiring of them all. The soaking, juicy shreds of the paan should be carefully chewed. The shreds stuck hopelessly in that despairing cave of a mouth should be carefully removed – in moments of seeming annihilation it is better to keep oneself busy – there have been people who have stuck to their routines even in the worst of times – I’ve heard of Nazi soldiers never missing an early run or breakfast. When in doubt, start rolling the rock up the hill, and watch it falling down.

Cavities keep him busy.

Look at him dropping his shoulders like an old zoo bear. The shortening distance increases the heartbeat. The world looks very unworldlike. The houses grow. And in a while there will be words. She would speak. Oh yes, she would. He would have braved fiercest wars, cruelest heroes, cavities filled with bits of paan and what not. But words? They’ll be there staring him at his deathbed along with his children. And what if they are there after death, too? Would he not die again hearing them? What would that be like, dying twice in a row? If something worthwhile is to be made of this world, it should be made without words. Plato missed the point. He should have banished words. Killing the messenger was never a wise choice.

Look at him standing before the door pretending to knock. Isn’t he funny? Isn’t he sad? Isn’t he something? Like the water when the sewer is unclogged, like the child when the sun is set, like the moon that makes us mad, like the bowler having bowled his ball, like the trader who has lost it all, like the birds of winter, like the failed son gone away to make some good – a married man must come back.

This is a part of a series of marriage sketches that I’m planning to do, fairly regularly. Epitaph Of A Liar & The White Kettle are also part of the same series.

Political Philosophy of Lwoyoblrig Bughum

“Freedom is stifling. There’s not much to do when you are free as a bird – for one, you don’t have wings. What’s freedom if you cannot fly? It would be exhilarating to see dainty men and women flying mid air showing off their freedom, and the un-free masses walking down below on mere feet, the indelible blemish of their caged existence keeping them down to earth. And second, you are big. Too big. Ants should be free, and are free, unless of course some stupid kid puts them in a box. They are free in their minds, as they have none. Caterpillars, snails, flies, wasps, moths, those stinking light bugs, they deserve to be free. It suits them. Not men. Not women. Not anyone and anything that matters.

We are too important and too big to be dragged into this freedom debate. We are to be chained and bound if there is to be any hope for us. Our feet stuck in the quagmire of reliable and ragged principles. Our heads filled to their cortex with some cheap idealism, or some cheaper cause. (Look at me, I support walls and I will fight for their rights till my death.) We want some bloated head to hover over us, its nostrils flaring at the daily drudgery of ours. We want a leader to bind us and drag us through this engulfing desert of disappointments and betrayals and Valentine’s Days. We want someone to meddle with our lives, torment us with dreams of a great future, and mix it up with just enough hopes and disappointments so that we carry on. We want instruments be made of us, and we don’t care who’s playing.

You see what I am talking about? A pervasive communism that would put Plato and Marx to shame – we all eating each other’s food, resting on each other’s shoulders, fucking each other’s wives, killing each other’s hopes, dying on each other’s doors. Doing what’s told, undoing what’s not. Putting cats on a higher pedestal than dogs. Worshipping only one god. The one that spies on us, the one who shames, humiliates, destroys – everything what love does – the one who is after our lives, thirsty for our blood. A scared populace. A strong, servile nation. A reality that annihilates alternatives. A defeated race of materialists holding on to anything that looks like would occupy space. Clingy, clamorous, hopeless – of course, in a good way.”

Lwoyoblrig Bughum is an out-of-work balladeer. To know more about him click here. To know about how he fell in love with a cat, click here.

Calypso Door

There’s nothing more disorienting to one’s senses than an aberration in someone’s attire. More so, if the someone concerned is wearing a ballooned blue shirt with its collar sewed down, (never to betray even a little of its unordered arrogance,) with a yellow thread, safely tucked inside a black pleated pant worn almost from diaphragm downwards, signifying a sense of purpose (or even, purposelessness,) with soft canvas shoes, chequered in blue and black. More so if the houses he is passing by have iron handles placed at a height higher than his. More so if you are following him.

The modulations of his practised walk defy any explanation you’d want to attach to him. Too unburdened to be a clerk. Too coloured to be a postman. Too lazy to be a guide. Too decisive to be a detective. Too old to be a trickster. What can he be? Though it’s unspeakably hot and your fine shirt (which by the way has to last a week) has grown darker with sweat, and though scuttling past the short man, leaving him to his solitary walk in the narrowing lanes would just seem to be the thing, you don’t. You don’t leave him. Not just now.

You shift and peep from behind to the get the glimpse of the face that would surely mean nothing to you. But what if it does? What if it holds the answer to right every wrong in this world? What if it be the face that would launch a thousand ships? Maybe not. You laugh a little at the shoes. What must he be thinking, wearing those flag-posts, you muse. You are walking a little quicker. You are closing on him.

There’s always a sense of something ominous following you in a narrow lane. There’s a little rustle of a paper lying around and you look back. There’s someone behind you, and you let him pass. It’s the thing people living in suffocating streets know. Never let the inconvenience of someone following you hamper with the fun of stifling your breath, and evading muck. But the short man was not of these lanes. He, sensing someone is following him, shifts his head a little to confirm the presence, and walks faster instead. That someone is decidedly miffed. That someone has to see his face.

At last the man stops. He still does not see you. But what if he does? You are still hopeful. You put on the hardest pretence there is: you pretend to walk. Standing there would just be rude. The man is on his toes to ring the bell. You see his face a little. The enmeshed temple receding into the silvery grey. You hear the bell ring. You hope for a delay. You hope for him to look around.

He does not. There is no delay. The door opens. And he’s gone. You stand frustrated. You know how Odysseus must have felt when Calypso ate six of his friends. You look around. There is someone following you.