The dusk (shortstory)
The weather felt a bit warmer for May, in Shahdara. The sky, however, was a perfect gold, the kind of gold you would find in an artist's palette. It stretched towards the distant horizon, kissing the dips and the sways of the deep green fields. Despite of being city-born, I have always enjoyed the tranquility of the countryside and the demeanour of the villagers. I have always believed too that urbanization has a lot to do with the coldness of the city dwellers. Once a butcher said to me, "It's the roar of the machines that uplift their egos."
It was almost dusk when I reached the bus stand for my bus to Islamabad. Lost in thought, I sat on a single shaky bench, placed underneath a roof which was made out of fronds and a few wooden sticks supporting the structure.
I was sitting alone when a man in his sixties came and sat across the bench from me. "New here, young man?", he asked, with a warm smile, his lips burying themselves in his wrinkles.
"Yes sir, but how did you guess?", I smiled.
"Ah! It's a small village, young man, nothing is hidden here", he exclaimed. "You're probably visiting for the new punchakki project in the village".
"Well yes, I am leading it. I don't get to visit the village a lot, I'm savouring my time here", I stated excitedly. My watch confirmed fifteen more minutes. I carried on with the conversation. "What brings you here?" I asked, curiously.
"I'm here to pick my wife." he smiled.
"Is she late?", I suspected.
"Well, she used to come back in a few days but this time she is late. I made her upset and she went to her parents' house in the city, as usual. "
"Love marriage?", I chuckled.
"Yes. I brought her from the city. But I often didn't have enough money to pay the bills here and she was already upset because of the broken kitchen sink this time."
"I'm sorry to hear that.", I sympathized.
"Ticket sellers don't get paid enough here, young man. Anyhow, the bills are paid and the sink is fixed. I've wiped the floors too, just in case.", he winked. His eyes were glowing now.
"Well, what's it like in the city for you?", his voice deepened.
"I have just completed my Masters and rented an apartment of my own. My parents often visit me. My life is simple", I answered, smiling.
"I wish my life w-", the chai wala interrupted, "chai garam, chai garam", and the man's words ended in a smothered murmur. I bought two cups and offered him twice before he took one.
"Your wife is really lucky to have a man like you, sir. Despite of a good income, there are not many guys like you, back in the city", I assured him, looking at my glass of tea, now frosted by the vapours.
"My bus reaches here in 10 minutes", I continued. He nodded.
"Before I go, do you want me to arrange a tonga for you, for a ride back home perhaps? What time does your wife arrive?", I asked, feeling a sense of responsibility towards him.
"It's okay, young man. Go your way. I don't know when she arrives, but I'll manage a walk back home with her, whenever she does. I've been waiting for her for a long time now anyway."
I felt a sense of oddness in those last words, his sentences seemed unthoughtful. "How long have you been waiting for?", I murmured.
He looked down at his watch and then looking up in my eyes again he whispered, "every dusk since the last twelve years."