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Stranger Across the Window

Posted by Kirtana Banskota on November 4, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Shame cloaked him when our eyes met. He knew I had been watching for a while now, wondering why was it that his actions prior to our short encounter was partaking the course of such inhumanly behavior.  He had stood there watching, staring at objects and then walked away. After a few heavy dragged steps, he stopped.

That, was the first time I paid attention to his gabardine than his actions. His blue and green plaid shirt looked like he had spend a whole two decades under its warmth. His big blanket like army green jacket covered him from head to toe veiling every single part of his body except the slight bit of his face. I wondered why he was wearing something so warm  while I was still adorned my summer dress? His face looked unwashed and unkept. A huge scar from ages jeweled the side of his left cheek. Judging by the grey on his head and the stubble on his face it looked like he had the opportunity to have had experienced a few long and dreary decades. His trousers ripped and patched andre-patched. His boots looked new. I wondered if he had purchased them from a salvation army or had some kind-hearted soul donated such great boots.

I stood there behind the library window pretending to read my book while he was outside under the warm blazing sun. He ‘snail pacedly’ slid his right hand inside the inners of his “blanket” and pulled out a cigarette that he so quickly stuck on the side of his lip. He pressed his lips tight clutching onto his treasure and reached on the inside of his trouser pocket. Out came a packet of matches. He pulled a stick out, struck it on the side of the pack and no sooner flames burst out in an instant. He held on tight to the tiny flaming stick as he slowly and gently brought it to kiss the tip of his hungry and unlit cigarette.  He withdrew the matchstick, shook hiswrist to blow it out and then took his first deep breath. His eyes closed in Nirvana and the tip of his delight flamed brighter. He slowly took the cigarette out of his mouth tapped on it to let the drips of ashes get carried away by the slight breeze.

“ Ma’am is this yours?” I looked up from my pretentious shield a hardcover bound book to witness a darkshorthaired librarian with fixing her thick-rimmed black glasses, and pointing at the comics that lay spread on the table where I was sitting at.

“ Oh no, those aren’t mine” I said flashing her a sight of my perfectly whitened teeth with a little nod and went back to my cinema.

The man had moved from his place. I wondered, my eyes turning left and right in search of him.There he was on the corner of the street under the tree nestled with hisblanket smoking his one true pleasure.

He looked back at me. This time I avoided his gaze and acted like I was engrossed in my scriptures. I could feel him staring for a slight moment and then he looked away. I don’t know if it was the assurance of me not staring at him anymore or if he just did not care, he put of his cigarette that reached the end of time and was almost about to burn the tip of his worked fingers, that he walked back the original spot where I had had my first sight of him.

He stood there infront of a trash can, the very same one where I had spat out my chewing gum not too long before I had walked into the library. He stood there staring inside.His left arm slowly reached for the inside of the can. Bewildered, I looked at him waiting for the next step. Then, the same pace as he had slid his hand inside the mysterious trashcan, his hand came up with a zip lock bag. The outsides looked like they had been wet. For all I could see, the bag wastightly sealed. With his right hand he swiftly wiped the chaos that was clinging on the outsides of the bag. And there! They were- two red, juicy roundstrawberries. He unzipped the bag and pulled one out and without looking around at anything quickly put it in his mouth. The same look I had perceived before intensely covered his face for the second time-the look of utmost ecstasy and bliss.  He slowly chewed on the fruit, savoring every moment of the juices that bombarded the insides of his mouth. Slowly, with his eyes closed he smiled, pulled the leaves out of his mouth and just stood there.  He opened his eyes as if to have been awakened from karmic realization- he glowed as he kept his smile that remained pasted on his scruffy and scary face. He reached for the second fruit then something engulfed his mind, he shook his head, locked the bag and put it inside his pocket.

A slight breeze hit the trees making the leaves swing and sway. He looked back at with familiarity, flashed me his set of stained and some missing teeth added by a nod. I did the same in return. Slowly dragging his heavy feet inside those boots he walked away, moving his mouth, uttering words inaudible to me. I sat there following him, till his last heavy step until he vanished behind the corner of another building.  I stared for a few minutes in utmost silence, and then slowly in his pace moved my eyes to my book.

 A real incident documented by

Kirtana Banskota.


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