Thursday, June 14, 2012

Three shades of regret

There was something about her, you got to admit.

Today began like just another day. Who would have known it would end this way?

It was her eyes, I think. Or her smile. Maybe it was the way she played with her hair while she thought about something. But she definitely had something that made me want to go upto her.

I walked to the bus stop kicking the can all the way. Suddenly, there was a voice that caught my attention, it was the shopkeeper fighting with a customer. Mr. Baker was always a disgruntled man and I think I learnt most of my swear words, hearing him yell at others. Today too, I watched him with a smile. I heard the general string of cuss words and then, the customer slammed the door as he walked out. He saw me looking through the glass, raised an eyebrow and said, "Don't go in there, if you are smart. He is crazy old man." I didn't. I looked at my watch and realised I was late for work, I hurried. This here was my regret #1 - I didn't walk in.

I remember seeing her for the first time, not knowing what to say. Tongue-tied and sloppy. I dropped wine all over me. She made me do it, I say.

I ran to the bus stop and almost missed my bus but I made it. There wasn't time to wait or even catch my breath, as I reached work, a colleague said, "Let's leave. Emergency on PA Street."  I was surprised. " Dude, that's why I am coming from. Who is it?"  "A Mr. Baker, I believe. Heart attack, after he exchanged a few words with a customer. Come on."  I waited while he drove. It isn't easy being a paramedic on days like this. There is always a casualty and you always have to get there on time. Today wasn't one of those days, we couldn't save Mr. Baker. Even though, we tried. If only I had got there in time. This here was my regret #2 - I didn't get there in time.

Then she twirled her hair around her fingers and came and sat next to me. "Am I making you nervous?" she asked. "Yes" "Don't be. I don't bite." "I hope not." 

As we carried Mr. Baker's body back, I kept wondering the "What if"s of today. What if I had walked in then? What if I had got there in time?

Mr. Baker had always lived in his shop, said the newspapers the next day. He had a wife. I chuckled. Who would live with an ill tempered man as him? Since my childhood, I never seen Mr. Baker with anyone. I was told he got married the years that I was away at university. There was no picture of his wife.

Years later, I would tell her how she made me feel that day and she would smile. She would say, she knew I was looking at her, she liked the attention. She would make me feel like a fool, all over again. She always knew how.

I decided I would go to the funeral. I have no logical explanation for that decision but I decided I wanted to know more about this man. I had to call my mother and ask her for my suit (Hey, I move around a lot) and poured over the papers to find the details. There was only one church in town and that's where it would be on Saturday evening. I called Bob and asked him to cover my shift for that afternoon. He reluctantly agreed. This here was my regret #3 - I went to his funeral.

"What if I had never come to speak to you that day?" she asked. "I would have taken time but I would get there, eventually. You just had me under a spell. I would have you one way or another."  "Yeah right" she said. Yeah right, I said to myself.

Saturday came and I got ready. His family was in front and the church had a few people who seemed to know him. The priest called me a family man who had lived his life. A kind man even though he had a harsh tongue. He then called upon his wife to share a few words.

And then that's when I saw her. And I immediately thought, "There's something about her."

So if you really see, I regret nothing at all.


Shrinath said...

Hmm. Interesting.

Nimue said...

nice ! loved reading this. Write more !!

Ash said...

Well written!

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