Tale of Two Strangers and a Winter Morning

“ Is that My Sister’s keeper in your hand?”

“ Yes?”

“ I’ve been looking for this book since I was in class nine. Searched entire Nilkhet, couple of times. Went to PBS, no luck there either.”

Half confused, half intrigued, Shithi stared at the guy. He looked shabby, awfully less dressed for a winter morning. But he had bright eyes. While most of Dhaka was fast asleep, he seemed to sneak out from bed early to hasten nature to cast its magic spell. Not sure what to make out of him, Shithi waited for him to say more.

“I read this one at a friend’s place. I remember how shallow I felt after finishing it. You may want to read Sing You Home too. The story is okay-ish, but you’ll love the expressions. Classic Jodi Picoult.”

At this Shithi exasperated, “I’ve already read Sing You Home, didn’t like it. Gay sex doesn’t interest me”

The guy laughed, “ Told you. Don’t go for the story. It’s the metaphors that make Picoult’s writing so special. I guess you didn’t notice because you didn’t like the story in the first place. You like this one, right?”

“ So far, yes”

“ You’ll see then”

Shithi put a bookmark inside her book and asked, “ Do you read a lot?”

“ Not really” he shrugged. “ I used to read a lot when I was younger. Now I am mostly into music”

“ Yeah I can see your earphone. And hear music coming out of it too.”

“Oh, yes. It’s this great song I’ve been listening to whole night” he said while pausing the music. “ You want to give it a try? Its not a morning song though.” Shithi’s eyes narrowed. Was he offering her to share his earphone? That’s a neat trick. But maybe he could sense what she’s thinking. As he just lent his phone and earphone and said, “ Go ahead”

And for the next 3 minutes 42 seconds, Shithi enjoyed the best music she ever heard. She knew there were people walking by, she knew the fog was lifting and it was turning into a great sunny day. She knew a stranger was sitting 2 feet away from her, cross-armed, eyes fixed at her. But she couldn’t care less. She couldn’t speak or respond in any way after the music had finished. And the guy didn’t expect it either. He just said, “I Know” as if he always knew what’s going on inside her head, as if they never needed to talk to communicate.

Leaving Shithi spellbound, he stood up. “ I have to go” he said. “ Happy reading.”

It was after a few seconds that Shithi called him back “ Would you like to borrow mine? I’m guessing you never had a chance to read it again”

“But you aren’t finished yet”

“ Well, I think I will be done by tonight.”

The guy took his time to be completely sure that she meant what he thought she meant. Then he smiled, his eyes shone even brighter. With a quick nod he pushed the earbuds back into his ears and walked away.

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