Short Story: Ittefaq (Coincidence)

He had been carrying it around for the last three years. He had given up all hopes of meeting her. Ever again.

The alley was dark and the fragrance of small town summer rain was hanging in the air. It was a melancholic mix of a green life and urban aspirations, as the smell of burning gasoline mixed with the freshness of wet tropical soil and the sweet smelling leaves of a eucalyptus tree. As he turned into the alley, he was still not sure if this was the alley he was looking for. Looking for Apartment number 215 in a street where houses are not necessarily numbered in a sequential manner or properly (or both) on a day like this was not going to be easy. The thing he knew, though, was that he could not afford to be late. He hadn’t been successful in keeping a single job for the last 3 years. All because he could not be on time. All because he always had a lead that he wanted to check on.

He hurried forward. Someone looking at him from a distance would have found him to be suspicious. The way he was looking at the houses. The way he would walk up to a door, and then suddenly turn around and leave. He seemed anxious, desperate, in a hurry, had unkempt looks, wore a ragged overcoat, sported a rude and partially grayed out beard, and his winter boots had long outlived their utility. But then, there was no-one on the street to suspect his motives.

The property on the right side of the road as he took a left turn at the end of the alley caught his attention. The number was 214. But it wasn’t an apartment. It was an independent house, an odd presence in this apartment complex laden street. His Indian-ness got hold of him, and he decided to knock on the door and see if the residents here knew where 215 was. A habit his father had instilled in him. “Why waste time when you can politely ask?”, he would tell him in his gruff and muffled voice, a sound which seemed distant due to his constant paan chewing, beteljuice filled mouth. Good thing, this was largely an Indian locality. Wondering how he had never picked up that habit of his father, while picking up almost every other trait, he walked towards that house.

He wiped his face as he rang the doorbell. He could hear the footsteps coming towards the door. A lady wearing a gray dress and a pink scarf opened the door. She was in her early thirties.
“Excuse me, ma’m….”, he stopped abruptly in the middle of his mentally rehearsed question, just as he looked up to make eye contact with the lady.
A curious expression was on her face as she looked at him. It was a frown mixed with a smile of recognition. He, on the other hand, had a smile.
“What a coincidence, Adi!!”
“Lisa….”
“I just wanted to tell you….”
“I just wanted to tell you…”, they both stumbled on their confessions, but he continued, “that I love you. And I was there that night.”

His hands were inside his overcoat pocket. He took it out. And as he lifted it in his hands, every thought, every dream, every desire of last three years of waiting came rushing onto him. He could barely breathe. He braced himself.

No-one heard the gunshots. The man in the ragged overcoat turned around, and started looking for 215 again. He needed the job now.

 

 

(To be continued… )*

*T&C apply

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