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  • Sonal

The Ride Back Home

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Every night at quarter to eleven,

We both would be the last ones on the bus;

He standing strong at eighty years old,

With one foot unwantedly in the grave,

I, merely breathing at nineteen years old,

And pretty much willing to jump into my grave;

Both were headed to the same motel -

He worked as the night guard,

I worked as the pretty (!?) girl

Who was supposed to smile at drunk strangers

And show them their rooms,

Funnily, even after months and months

Of travelling and working together,

Neither knew the other one's name,

Our only communication was

A magnificent smile from him,

His eyes twinkling brighter than stars,

To which I replied with a meek, mirthless smile,

Mostly out of courtesy, a bit out of compulsion,

But it was only after eleven months

That he came and sat next to me

On our ride back home at seven in the morning,

"You are too young and pristine

To be working in that shady hellhole."

And after a three seconds of pondering,

He resumed, "But I guess everyone has their reasons";

I looked down and nodded, while he continued -

"You know hon, you remind me of a squirrel.",

And then as if sensing my mind,

Or perhaps judging by the

Quizzical look on my tired face, he said,

"You scurry along those dirty corridors,

I don't remember ever having seen you

Stay still for a while, and on the rare minutes

That you stop by to catch a breath,

You sprint again to escape from those

Filthy paws of tipsy predators trying to pet you."

I don't know what surprised me more,

The fact that he had observed me so precisely,

Or the topic of our very first conversation.

"But do you know? Squirrels are strong creatures,

And I believe so are you",

He ruffled my unkempt hair,

And stood up to leave as

We drew closer to his stop;

And as he stepped out of the bus,

He smiled his most radiant smile;

Three days later, he was found dead

In his tiny room at the retirement home,

Loneliness got the better of him,

Giving him just enough strength

To hang a noose around his neck.

//NaPoWriMo, Day 3

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