The Alley — Part 1

I walked down the cobbled streets of this new place. There was so much going on in my mind, and there was so much to see, that I was able to do neither. Neither was I able to alleviate the chaos stirring in my chest, nor was I able to enjoy the sights this new place had to offer. This place was so different from where I came; here, every person who walked, had their own unique style, and it was so different that I don’t think even the latest Parisian fashion magazines would have caught this yet. But then, I have never had anything to do with fashion so what would I know? The buildings looked like byproducts of creativity and nature, and perhaps, history. These buildings had patches of moss, and the creepers had bloomed as if from a page in a fairytale. Graffiti had unleashed the artists in all these people around. And considering how I could barely scribble a cat on a piece of paper, I would have loved to admire these for hours, but I couldn’t. All the fashions, the colours, the flowers, the designs, everything was a subconscious blur.

I walked past an alley. I had not crossed four steps when I stilled and walked backwards until I was right in front of the alley. I turned into it. I saw a person, sitting in a corner, playing a flute. I didn’t see any handkerchief or box or hat that could collect money from people walking past. In fact, she was so inside the alley that it would have been very easy to overlook her existence.

The alley was a little too dark for my comfort. The end of the alley seemed to open to another street, but for some inexplicable reason, it looked as if it was late night on that street, not the broad daylight that my back was facing. I looked up into the sky. I didn’t find it there. A sheet of tarpaulin screened the alley, from the sun, and perhaps, the stars too.

It should have bugged me. If not bugged, then definitely provoked my curiosity. The fact that the other end of the alley opened to a perfectly normal night street, given that behind my shoulder, it was 11:30 in the morning should have definitely provoked my curiosity. It didn’t. What surprisingly irritated me was the total lack of attention that I was getting from this lady. She didn’t look up from her flute. Was I so trivial that my presence did not excite even the blink of an eye?

“Your importance doesn’t need to be validated by the blink of my eye.” She responded, as she paused the music. “Just like my music doesn’t need money from people walking by.”

I wanted to ask so many questions. Who are you? Rather, what are you? How the hell are you responding to my thoughts? Why is it night behind you? What is this alley?

What I ended up asking was, “Why are you wearing a raincoat?”

“Because you need to be always prepared.”

And then everything went black.

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