The Guy at ICH

There was this time during my college days I would constantly come across this guy during my regular visits to the Indian Coffee House in Thrissur. One could infer from his looks that he was around twenty seven years of age. He had coffee coloured skin, curly hair and minimal growth of moustache and beard. He was skinny, around five feet five inches tall with big round enduring eyes. Most of the times, I saw him in an off white shirt with dark blue stripes and loose fitting navy blue trousers, both shabby.

He used to beg for money in front of ICH. 
 Although I was keen on knowing his story, I never found myself going to him and striking a conversation. There was always this look on his face I failed to decipher. Was it that of sadness, hope or a cry for help, I don’t know. He would beg for money, calling out “sir, sir..?” whenever I met him, but his requests always went in vain. My eternal naive disposition left me dazed and confused at his sight. I felt myself as the narrator in “The Old Woman” by Arun Kolatkar, a poem I studied as a 11th grade student.

One day I saw a man around 35 years of age, who too was a regular visitor at ICH, talking to him. The guy was showing some certificate to the man, but I couldn’t clearly hear what the conversation was. Then I saw the man returning to his group of friends, saying that the mad guy seems to be bluffing again.

Another day, I was walking down by the Kairali-Sree theatre complex to ICH, where I found him lying down on the foot path sleeping, his mouth half open. He had a wound on his forehead which was dressed. There were flies playing around on the wound and on his lips as well. He was in a sound sleep, as if in oblivion. 
 Never did I see him again.