The Retirement

The man was sitting on a broken bench at one of the non-descript, dilapidated railway stations at one of those small hill stations of northern India. He sat there wearing a long black pea coat, and his leather gloves. The gloves had been a gift from his dad, and he had always found it extremely useful during his work. He had the most ordinary face. One that you wouldn’t be able to recollect. And he was aware of that since his childhood. He could never make any friends, and people looked through him as if he was a transparent ghost. Infact, he has off-late heard that people have started referring to him as “the ghost”. He had become impervious to what people said or did.

He had left his home-town in a hurry 16 years ago, and since then he had been travelling around the world, searching for answers to questions that even he didn’t understand. In these 16 years, he had had no relationships ever. Only once, recently, a lady, a journalist at a small city he had visited on vacation, seemed interested in knowing him, understanding him. But, she was transferred to cover one of many wars that America was creating around the world, and they never even got to meet each-other.

This small city, is similar to many small, no descript cities he had been visiting on vacations since last 16 years. He never liked the famous tourist places. He preferred the places, where he didn’t have to worry about people and for once every year he could just be himself. Maybe, he visited these places, because it reminded him of his small village or so he believed, having no memory of his real home.

Back in his country of birth, he had been sitting on the broken bench, contemplating retirement. Off-late he had been growing weary, and felt as if some invisible hands were just behind him, to drag him to a cage. It’s been a good 16 years, and he could just let go off things now, he thought.

This small town, is where he had found, through Facebook that his only ever girlfriend from school resided now. She had been a live wire during school, and he had developed real feelings for her. Of all the things he felt for her, he was most curious to understand, how she was always so happy, even when she had an abusive father, who would inevitably get drunk & hit her almost every single day. He had hoped, actually had made it a mission, to solve all her problems. But with time, he drifted away from her. He had been surprised to find, she was ordinary and one of the common people, who are mean & selfish, and full of hatred. He was even more shocked, when he saw her feeling extremely sad and sorry, when her abusive father had expired. He realized he could never understand people and since then had mostly maintained distance from everyone.

Now on his yearly vacation, he was sitting here contemplating leaving it all. He had found her and had followed quietly to her small house. She was married now, and taught at a small coaching center. She was transformed from what he remembered of her. He could see the reflection of her father in her. He had heard loud fighting noises & shouting at her house, and even in the place she taught, he had seen her bullying the small kids without an ounce of empathy.

The place where he was sitting was on the route she took daily to walk to her house in the evening after work. He had been waiting contemplating how he should introduce himself or should he at all. Lost in the thoughts, he saw her walking, with a frowning face without looking anywhere in particular. He had always liked how you could surprise somebody by approaching from behind. He loved to see people’s reaction when you sneak up on them. He slowly started walking behind her. He had now decided that retirement was the absolutely the right decision. That is why he was there.

As he closed up on her, he reached out into his pockets and reached for the garrote, with his gloved hand. Life had come full circle. It had started with her father, and it made sense that it ended with her. He slowly & quietly gained on her, he was excited that he could again be himself, may be for one last time. The world will once again talk about “The ghost” for few days, as was customary post his vacations, before returning to hating each other.

Like what you read? Give Sabyasachi Naik a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.