He could hear the sounds of his footsteps follow him down the corridor, down the steps, through the lobby door, and into the street. He heard them as he walked down the street, whose name he knew, but had forgotten, chosen to forget.
He walked past the shops whose names he used to know as vividly as he had known the shopkeepers, but he knew them no more. Some of the shopkeepers called out to him, but he didn’t answer. He didn’t even look at them, questioning whether they had called out to him. He just walked on. He didn’t know them anymore. He didn’t know them, their shops, their wives, their children, which cars they had, or where they dined on Saturday nights. He just walked on, past the crossing, and hailed a taxi.
The taxi drivers questioning eyes met not a pair of angry eyes, filled with dormant venom awaiting a vent. Nor did they find eyes of compassion, filled with the want of an eager ear; but a stare, not even a glare, of stony indifference. A man of experience, he asked not a hearty, but a quiet question, and drove the man towards his destination, on the plank of an emotionless reply.
The taxi driver, such was his habit, and hobby, at a traffic light, adjusted his rear view mirror in order to judge his guest, but those powerful daunting eyes pierced his curiosity, and forced him to re-adjust the mirror to the traffic behind. Annoyed by this induced meekness, he decided to overcharge the man. The taxi stopped at the railway terminus.
The man got off, and took a hundred out of his wallet. Without counting the change, he put it into his pocket. The taxi driver rushed to the long queue of taxis awaiting him, wishing he had given less change back, and hoping his next subject would be just as philanthropic. He walked up to the reservations counter, and stood in queue, blessed with a newfound patience. It wasn’t patience derived from tolerance; it was based on indifference.
The eyes of experience close,
When a man loses more than he ever had,
And he finds more of himself than he ever knew there was to him.
Unblinded by the past,
The irrelevance of what the future holds dawns upon him,
And the present holds more than it ever did,
Awaiting his grasp.
He sat down quietly on the edge of the bed and untied his shoelaces. One had already been open. He took off his shoes, but not his socks. It was cold and they would help him keep his feet warm. The bed wasn’t new to him. He had used it the night before. He wouldn’t need it again, after tonight. As he lay back, his feet still on the uncarpeted floor, the coldness of the floor sent a shiver up his body. He shook to the extent of a shudder, and then slipped under the inviting quilt.
“I am the one”, he thought, as he closed his eyes. After many a night spent staring at speechless ceilings, he achieved sleep.
Nine hours had passed by, unnoticed, and the man who woke up felt a rare sense of unknown relief overcoming him. His lips curved upwards, and after days of restraint, he felt.
He was on his way.