Short Story: The Remains

April 30, 2007

He cringed his eyelids after sunlight struck his eyes. After years in darkness, the streak of a bright summer morning sun made him wince and stand still until his eyelids adjusted to the light. The road appeared long and broad, with petty shops and tall buildings, more dusty than when he had stood at that place, three decades ago.

He started walking slowly past the buildings, both hands in pockets, as if he were feeling cold. Habits die hard. He wondered if the same old houses and places still existed, and peered at every person walking beside him, the modern day houses with designer bricks, shiny cars zooming past without a sound, a young girl riding a bike - nothing was like what he was used to seeing in his days.

Suddenly he started feeling conscious of himself. He felt eyes watching him all the time. Including that of the kid near the garbage dump. What if somebody recognized him? He heard someone call out a name. He turned around panicking, thinking it was his, only to realize nobody even noticed his presence. His was one such name that faded in the eventualities of time, after being in a dubious limelight for a while. People had known him as The Killer. That's what the newspapers had named him. And that's what had become of his name. Killer Acquitted. And then, Killer Convicted. He still remembered the headlines, and the dirty odor of the room where he had read them.

He caught dust in his throat and began coughing. He walked to a nearby shop and asked for a glass of water, cautious, fearing the shopkeeper would find his identity. He was given a glass and he gulped it down. Water still tasted the same. Tasteless. At least, something had not changed with the outside world. The shopkeeper smiled. He smiled back and resumed walking, feeling calmer. Times and lives had moved. Probably the shopkeeper wasn't even born in those days. May be, no one really knew him today. No one alive, that was. It was as if he had travelled forward in time, and felt like a lonely alien in a world that is too busy to notice anything unusual. It felt so good to be lonely again.

And he continued walking down the streets taking a turn every now and then, watching people talk on strangle little phones they carried in their pockets, and little discernible voices rising amid the assorted sound of motor vehicles. In one such turn he saw a ruined building, which seemed wrecked and unattended for ages. He remembered seeing one like that, on the last occasion he was out in the morning sunlight.

"Eight men. Possibly nine. We counted the limbs.", a rescue person had told him. He had seen blood spattered all over, limbs visible from the gaps in the rubble, dusty smoke and the smell of burning human flesh. He had heard a squishing sound as he tried stepping in and nausea rose from the pit of his stomach when he realized what he had stepped on. A shattered torso.

He felt nauseous again. He wiped his face and walked past the wreck followed by his elongating shadows, until he spotted a quaint looking restaurant. He suddenly felt famished. He needed to grab something, and then find a place to sleep. Tomorrow, when there's sunlight again, he'd think what he wanted to do with the remains of his life.

Kishore is a techie based in Bangalore. When he's not writing software, he spends his time writing himself out trying to understand the perfection of reality. Read his musings over life, nature, music and the art of living at Dayswork.
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Deepti Lamba
May 1, 2007
08:23 AM

Gruesome but nice;)

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