Monday, December 19, 2005

A story without an end - III

That was it, I thought. I had waited for three hours. And saw the sky change from ochre to deep orange to dark red. The last embers of the autumn evening were dying down. The cars and the buses had their lights on. People crowded the bus stop across the road, clambering on to already crowded buses. In a mad rush, the tin buses were darting around, scrambling for passengers. The entrance to the Park Street metro station was in a frenetic whirl. Mostly, people were entering the tube station to head back home.

I was sitting on the steps of the Asiatic Society building, a prominent “meeting” place, smoking the last cigarette of the pack.

Right across the Chowringhee lay the vast emptiness -- more conspicuous in the growing twilight -- the maidans, and the waste yard of the metro constructions.

She had not come. Yes, she had not come to meet me. And now it was almost seven. There was a slight chill in the air. I was shivering.

**********************************

The taxi lunged forward, cutting through the dense rain. The windows were blurry and the wipers flailing madly. Very soon the glass got all misty inside because of our collective exhalations: mine, her’s and the driver’s. There was an awkward silence, made more somber by the humid air hanging still in the cab.

Was she surprised seeing me at the Park Street crossing? Rather, was she pleasantly surprised?

She said, why don’t we go to Flury’s? I have to pick up some stuff. It will take me a couple of minutes.

It was her suggestion. No, not suggestion. It was almost made to sound like an order. Like it was in the past. She was much older to me, and she always made this clear. Even when I pulled the blinds one sultry afternoon in a moment of confused and tormented passion…


She was looking to open the window a bit and throw the tissue she had wiped her face with. But she desisted, and put the soggy tissue in one corner of her purse. The taxi was already half way towards Sealdah, so it would be a long detour back to Park Street where Flury’s is. I told the driver that we would go back to Park Street. He grumbled. These drivers are getting impossible by the day, I said. She said the other day she got into a taxi and the driver stopped half-way to her home and just refused move.

Crazy, I said.

A few years ago, she had used the same word turning down my curt proposition.

Are you crazy? She had said, laughing her heart out, as if I had just said some silly joke.

**********************************

I was still standing at the Park Street crossing, absorbing what had hit me. She didn’t come. I don’t even know her name. I met her in Darjeeling. We talked Salinger and Beatles and smell of old books in that tea shack as raindrops kissed mountainsides.

She nodded when I told her we would meet in Calcutta. On Saturday. At the Park Street crossing. At four in the afternoon…

Now it was almost eight. The shiver in my bones had almost become unbearable. I couldn’t stop thinking about the last few days. How I had traipsed down the Mall in Darjeeling after she had left. How the train journey passed in pleasant contemplation. How I counted days till Saturday. That was today. And here I was, at the Park Street crossing, thumbing down taxis that went by not bothering to pay any heed to my half-hearted attempts at stopping them.

It was just then that a thought struck me like lightning on a clear day. And it made me stand still on the pavement, as if some sheer force had rooted to the concrete. The home-bound crowd of pedestrians shoved me around, screamed at me. A mad man made faces. I could feel the hair on my neck rise, I could jut about hear the din of the busy crossing, I could feel my cold palm clench till it pained…

What if she had been waiting for me at the other end of Park Street?

39 Comments:

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Nana said...

Time stops at Park Street not Shamli here.

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger ace of spades said...

Park St....lots of stories have started and ended there.
does this "story w/o an end" perhaps continue from the cooler climes of darjeeling and calcutta to Bangalore? if so...i would not mind some time travel.
in any case, sublime writing heightened by the storyline itself.

 
At 1:43 PM, Blogger Prerona said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger Prerona said...

nice. :) answered ur comment on my blog. a question ...

 
At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Hyacinth Girl said...

Good writing, Serial Lover, keep it up. You seem to be quite the Casanova. A blind here, a foggy window there...

 
At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Hyacinth Girl said...

BTW, how could I forget my Crical Comments...

(1) I understand the reckless reticence of your style, esp the casual references to the fascinating Older Woman. But I'm left dangling in your cultivated confusion. Pray, if you have to shuttle, make things a tad clearer for your readers. For one, you could keep Park Street for the Younger Woman, and all references to "taxi" for the Older One :-) Just fooling Fool, good writing.

(2) I love "A Story W/O an End" but I miss your non-fiction. Re-read your "Chhele Dhora" post. Gawd, what a risque read. I must say you've pioneered a revolutionary genre as far as reviewing is concerned

 
At 10:42 PM, Blogger udayan said...

The ending was a bit too predictable ... does that mean you will actually be ending this story without an end?

The first one was lovely. Keep up the good work.

 
At 3:34 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Nana: Thanks. Am flattered.

Ace of Spades: Yeah, I agree. Park St's old world charm does breed great stories. Some end, some dont!

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Prerona: Thanks. And answered.

Hyacinth Girl: Thanks as always for the valuable pieces of advice. And thanks again for re-reading Cheledhora post.
But, what made u think that Story W/O an End is fiction? ;-)

Udayan: Thanks and welcome on board. I think a story never ends, it carries itself to the reader's mind. Wotsay?

 
At 4:02 AM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Your eye for detail remains as good as ever. Especially loved the last para. That sudden, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the cold clutch on your heart. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise.

 
At 4:18 AM, Anonymous Pinky and Perky said...

I like your story. Will there be Adult Content at the end? Please, please, beg, beg. Ooooooooops, forgot, there's no End. Gleeee, gleeee

 
At 3:43 AM, Blogger vaibhav said...

Loved the end. Quite nice!

Dumb Moment: is this a real story?

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Marauder: Did you? I am honoured!

Pinky and Perky: Welcome on board! Adult content? Erm... let's see. Do stay tuned!

Vaibhav: Reality? It's all maya, illlusion. Welcome to the blog though!

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

beware all the didis. this man really believes there should not be any age bar in love (or is it lovemaking?).
man i cannot write this good details in bengali itself, rest aside writing in english. as i have said repeatedly, you are a master in playing with words and and you have got a good repertoire of glamourous words.
just love to read your posts.
and you can count me as one who will see the end of the story. post the next one quickly. with some detailing of the 'blind' part. we want to know what happenes behind the blind. dont keep us blinded for long.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

beware all the didis. this man really believes there should not be any age bar in love (or is it lovemaking?).
man i cannot write this good details in bengali itself, rest aside writing in english. as i have said repeatedly, you are a master in playing with words and and you have got a good repertoire of glamourous words.
just love to read your posts.
and you can count me as one who will see the end of the story. post the next one quickly. with some detailing of the 'blind' part. we want to know what happenes behind the blind. dont keep us blinded for long.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Chaila Bihari said...

ASWAE has already clocked 65 comments (excluding this one). This is getting serious. I think I can sense an entreprenurial curry here. And all these without any marketing.
Do you realise you are going great guns. At this rate, even Jabberwok has SERIOUS competition. Or are we going to have a different league. altogether. Go on. Go on. The more the merrier.
And I think you'd go on. Givrn, you are more Hollywood & less East Europe.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Ghetufool: You seem to be obsessed with blinds it seems! ;-)

Chaila Bihari: That's more than I can digest! Fuel for Part IV? And BTW, do let me know if there's any way to monetise it!

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger Srin said...

That was a killer ending. And you've captured the 'cold hand over my heart' feeling so well. :)

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger death said...

hee hee! so was she waiting for you at the other end of Park street ?

Beautifully written :P

 
At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Ph said...

He does it again! :)

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Srin: Thanks. And I like your ramblings.

Death: That's for you to guess. Or wait for another instalment!

Ph: Third person reference? Makes me feel God-like!

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Scout said...

Nice story :) I love Indian English writers, and you are no different. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Scout: Thanks. Do keep visiting.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger Bengali Guy said...

Good story. Now, how would you do it if you were to rewrite it with the starting line - "What if she had been at the other end" ?

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Bengali Guy: Welcome aboard. Interesting thought. Could have given it a go. Stay tuned!

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger J said...

ooooooooom i miss Cal sooooooooo much :(

 
At 3:18 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

J: Great to know that my story has evoked sooooooo much of nostalgia!

 
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At 12:30 AM, Anonymous hintochillichocolat said...

I don't think it's the end of the story yet...good writing....sensory satiation excellent....but dangerously reminiscent of five point someone...or is it all indian english writers?

 
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