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August 22, 2009

Posted by K in Fiction.

The little mouse clung to the underside of the pavement, tiny arms curled about its head, crying ‘No more! No more! It looked with fear at the phone forever tied to its tail, and whimpered again, no more! no more!

Beside it, on the rusty bench by the bus stand, sat an old man, too full of memories fresh and old. No more! he cried, as haunted eyes misted over and his bald head glinted with sweat.

No more! cried the lad, not yet seventeen, wearily accepting seven rupees from a passenger. Stretching before him, condemned rides up and down the city, stolen moments of youth, a cup of tea and hurried pav bhaji.

In front of the hospital, the bus stops, and there is always somebody who gets off. Not rich enough to buy life, not poor enough to stay away. Smells of sharp instruments and futile rubber tubes. An atmosphere so heavy that the sprightliest thought chokes on itself. Gloom and rigor mortis rise like a hideous vapour seeking to consume all in its path. Lonely halls, where private grief is a joke, and the illusion of being the special one is shattered the moment the bed beside fills up. Grieving family, made sour with anxiety. Of illness that pervades the being, and harried doctors and nurses. No more! he cries, beside the bed of his mother who has been dying for years.

She sees the cry, and pursing her lips, just this once, wishes to cancel her rounds, and flee home. But she cannot, she cannot withdraw from the beds and halls, and she must go home to find a daughter and a son, and a husband, all perfectly nice, all perfectly trying. Day after day, year after year, of waking up at the crack of dawn to send her children away, cheerfully, fixing breakfast, heading to work, and coming back to finish odds and ends, till it is again a late night, and the forthcoming dawn, an endless cycle. She wishes, no more!

Like the endless, endless waves of sound, dark turmoil twisted her mind, till she stayed at home, and slept to keep the demons away. No more!

And the mouse stayed right there, under the pavement, a fearful eye still on its tail, keeping the old man unconscious company



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