By Neel Anil Panicker
It was time to leave and Santhript knew that. The all too familiar lump in the throat was getting bigger and bigger. Standing in the bus stand, luggage in hand, his eye caught the mirror that peeped out from among among the array of psychedelic metal cats and cheap cotton ball ubiquitous pink dolls that jostled for space and human attention in just one among the several hole in the wall trinkets shops that are part and parcel of the eco system around renowned religious place.
‘Look, our bus has come!’ The crowd yelled in unison.
As it grinded to a halt, its tyres traced a perfect circle on the dirt laden road below, spewing up thick upward layers of dust and smoke.
‘Thanks for being a wonderful guide. You made sure our stay in Mookambika was such a pleasurable experience. Here, take this. This is for your extra efforts.’
Santhript looked down. Three crisp hundred rupee notes held out and glistened under the glare of the morning sun.
He summoned all his will but still the tears welled up. Keeping them on a leash proved to be a challenge.
Even after all these years. Even after having lived in the temple premises since being born.
Even after knowing that every kind woman with a child or two and a man around was not family.
Family they were, but not his family. Not the family that he could call his own.
Seconds later, money in hand, he was watching, misty eyed, as the bus, now choc-o-bloc with seekers turned around and hit the highway.
He stood there, for God knows how long__unmoving, a statue__the heady concoction of dust and fumes and rage and sadness blurring all images until the bus was but a speck in the distant horizon.
And then he turned back to resume his orphaned existence.
#TTC #FOWC #flash #fiction #shortstory #308words