I sit before a heap of paper, my fingers smell of cheap ink,
Filing entries overtime. The damp walls stare at me, blankly.
This is what I do every day. In return for a few extra notes, carefully counted again and again,
Before they hand them over to me.
My only companion every night, an old metal fan clanking round and round.
White lights unnecessarily
Hang from the ceiling, shrill brightness echo in empty corridors.
I sit every day amidst the yellowed smell of papers,
And a tireless noise of three metal blades, until the pen slips several times
From drowsy fingers.
Then dragging my weary shoes through silent streets, I take the last local home and walk down a soundless platform.
Silently unlock the door, my eyes don’t need to adjust to the darkness anymore.
Five steps to the right and a small left turn towards the kitchen,
My food is always placed on the kitchen table, covered, pickle on the side.
I think of the old clanking fan, his sound the only sound in my soundless nights.
Keep me company for a short while, unfailingly every day.
I feel happy with arrangement, but not because there are no options to choose from.
I am grateful to those metal blades.
There still aren’t any options,
I sit alone every day, amid the same smell of paper and damp walls.
In the absence of the clank.
They’ve replaced the fans with stylish new air-coolers.
The office will look modern, they said.
It’s a relief to now walk down noiseless platforms and streets,
Eat my dinner silently,
End another day in my noiseless life.
It’s a relief to get out of the noiseless cold storage.
Via Daily Post: Noise
I know not if you will receive this letter, but I found some old papers to write on, and I have ample time.
You all have left years ago, and don’t intend to come back anymore. You live in places where stairs move on their own, and I have only seen trains do. Your skies are only covered with buildings. So you talk about your city, and never mention the village. And this house? Only a couple pillars and half a room along with a pile of rubble remain of what was once a mansion coated in lustre. Only I have remained here, as decayed as this brick baggage, and witnessed chunks of plaster crumble, the storeys give in. But the crisp gold sunlight still shows on the beautifully carved mermaid fountain, even though she has lost her nose, and one of her arms. The mango tree at the end of the courtyard occasionally gives me tiny unripe fruits. They are pretty useless, but help me recall how you all raced barefoot to collect plump mangoes during storms. I accidentally dropped a steel bowl the other day. The earful clank increased tenfold and echoed everywhere in the middle of the night. The sound was strangely familiar to the sound of cymbals, during Pujas. I loved the sound of cymbals as a child. It echoed in my brain until I drifted off to sleep, smelling the fire mixed with sandal, and camphor; dreaming of clay pots and vermilion. These days I seem to accidentally drop the small steel bowl more often as I walk in and out of my room, waiting for something to collapse.
Via Daily Prompt:-
I smell the familiar air,
Heavy with fried fish and coriander,
But also with sausages from the nearby fast food centre.
I can feel fresh sunlight.
Heating up the parapet like olden times.
But no one stands on the terrace drying long hair anymore.
The silence is still heavy,
Lingering at noon time among brick houses,
Silently broken by an old man,
Pushing his cycle cart forward,
Only coloured syrup replaced by branded ice-cream.
I have been standing for almost a couple hours. This is getting harder for me by the minute. I can feel cold sweat trickling in slow motion down the sides of my cheeks, and patches of sweat on my eyebrows, tickling me uncomfortably. My glasses keep slipping off. Standing behind at least fifty people, in the considerably large hall, furnished with designer desks and chairs and cobwebs hanging from the yellowed ceiling, I’m profusely sweating in spite of the chilly November cold. I can feel an overwhelming numbness approaching my left leg. My wristwatch says I have half an hour before my next insulin shot, which I cannot miss. A quick mental calculation tells me that I only have fifteen minutes to reach the counter and finish my business after which I have to walk back home, wash my hands and feet, without which my wife wouldn’t let me take a step inside the house; and take the shot. I wish I hadn’t retired. Then I wouldn’t have to stand in this stupid queue every month, waiting to collect my pension.
The queue is moving faster now. I check my wristwatch again. I still have five minutes and there are ten more people ahead of me. I can now see the man behind the counter. I stare at him like a hawk fixes his gaze upon his prey. The number of people before me reduces by the moment. And finally, I am standing behind just one customer. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand and re-adjust my glasses, regaining motivation to wait some more. But this customer seems to take an eternity. My patience magically vaporizes. The numbness in my leg is reappearing. Fresh beads of sweat break out on my skin. And there- she is done. As I eagerly rush to the front of the counter, a mechanical voice echoes across the hall- “All functions shall resume after lunch”. The man behind the counter throws at me a swift glance and leaves his seat.
This story is purely a work of fiction and has no resemblance to actual services at the bank or any such sector.