A Story (1)*

The email said “Meet me at my place at 4.45 pm – sharp. Ben.” He didn’t know a Ben. Never had. Should he go? Where?

So he sat and waited, watching the clock. Literally, not the way he did everyday. Tick-tock, tick-tock. It wasn’t the clockwork (who made clockwork clocks, anyway?) It must’ve been supposed to make it sound cool. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Ten minutes. 4.40. A second mail came in. “You know the house, right? The second on the right when you turn left after Maami’s?” That gave him a jolt. Maami’s. The house on the corner, two streets away…

…three, or was it four? years ago…they’d been in college, the three of them. They’d meet up at his place and ride down to college, passing the house on the way. They’d never seen people in it – just signs of habitation. One sign, actually. Every day, a nine-yard saree hung on the terrace, wet and dripping at that time of the morning, fluttering in the breeze when they passed it on their way back. They’d speculated about that house… the yard that never semed to need sweeping, the plants that never seemed to need watering, no newspapers on the doorstep, no tell-tale drops of milk on the verandah. Just the saree. Maami’s.

He couldn’t remember how they’d named it that, but he was sure they’d never told anyone about it. It just wasn’t important… they’d had so much else to talk about, to do. Maami’s was just an oddity on the way to college, an unimportant constant that didn’t merit mention in the story of their lives.

The story of their lives. The stories of their lives, now.

***

He walked down the street towards Maami’s. He didn’t know why he was going, or where. Or even whom he was going to meet. If it hadn’t been for that mention of Maami’s… he would have gone anyway. In spite of not knowing where, he thought, he would’ve gone.

The first drop of rain shook him out of his reverie. What nonsense, he thought as he began to run. I’m going someplace that I’ve never been before, because someone I don’t know mentioned a name I know? Triggered off a memory? And I’m thinking I’d have gone anyway? Bulls*#%!

He was soaked as he turned the corner at Maami’s. The second house on the right. He climbed up on the porch, out of the rain, and looked around.

Surprisingly, he’d never been on this street before. It was one of those streets which wasn’t on the road to anywhere… not a cul-de-sac, but it had so many parallel roads that no one ever used it except if they’d missed a turn. Two neat rows of houses. Well, not so neat – there was a rather dilapidated one on the other side of the road, and the one three doors from where he was standing was electric blue and gold… but all houses, no apartment blocks.

He turned to face the front door, and wondered whether to ring the bell. It was broad daylight, the squall was beginning to blow over and the sun was coming out. He could hear a child squealing in the house next door. Some faint music from somewhere. Who was Ben, anyway?

*Inspired by a part-conversation with BikeRider. Thanks!

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3 Responses

  1. “Inspired” nothing. This is a textbook case of copyright infringement and by Jack Valenti, I’m SUING!
    ..Unless you agree to pay unpayable sums for using my INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
    BikeRider.

  2. BikeRider, you know what I say… who’s Jack Valenti, btb?

  3. Who’s Jack Valenti? Patron saint of rabid copyright enforcement. President of Motion Picture Association of America. Only that’s who.
    Bikerider

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