Strong gust of current, laced with dust ruffled her hair as the bus zoomed past, dropping her at the stop. Settling her unruly locks, she took in a long draw of sunny warm fresh air around her. It was a golden Sunday morning. There was a magical pull in her gait as she started walking down the lane. She was romancing it for the past few weeks…an old, imposing Victorian bungalow towards the wealthy northern end of the city. It had held her captive for long with its rustic charm, not letting her interest go down a notch, even once. Rendezvous with it, every Sunday, had offered her new insight about its intricacy and delicate beauty.
Approaching the old banyan tree which gave a chirpy, rustling company to the old bungalow, her favorite spot, for taking a good look at her muse, she took note of a faint streak of sadness in her heart. For today was going to be the final finishing touches that she was to give to her painting of it.
Her zesty pace was suddenly arrested as she saw a Police van at stone’s throw from the bungalow. An eerie silence had enveloped the passive movement of the policemen in and out of the bungalow. Clueless, she stopped in the middle of the road. Melancholy oozing out of the barbed fence of the bungalow crept through her unsuspecting mind, gripping her heart.
With the throat going dry, she changed her track and turned to a modest café which was nothing but a garage of another bungalow, a few blocks across her muse. The café was a one-man show. She had thought of taking it up as her next project. The fresh aroma of toasted bread and brewing coffee tried to soothe her tensed nerves in vain. Instead, sights of an old lady working in the garden with a beautiful young girl, maybe her daughter, by her side, wafted in her mind. It was this Sunday morning routine of gardening by the duo that had punctuated the charismatic appeal of the bungalow.
“What may be wrong?”, she wondered, a little loudly as she plonked into the iron chair which had made the usual screeching noise. “Something to do with news in today’s paper?”, she mused.
“Early today?”, distracted a voice which suddenly put a break on the fast pace of buzzing guesses that pulled her apart in senseless directions.
“Oh, sorry. Good morning Mr. Jonathan”, she stuttered trying to focus on the present and saw the Café owner, filling the glass of water for her.
“What can I serve you this morning? Sunnyside up with toasted bread and a hot cup of coffee? Or the simple bun maska pav with a steaming masala chai?”, he enquired in his welcoming voice, knowing her preferences from her visits spanning the last few weeks.
“Bun maska pav with a strong masala chai”, she stated.
“In a few minutes. Here’s today’s newspaper to fill in the time”, he said placing the neatly folded newspaper on the table.
Thanking him with a nod of the head, she glanced outside the window that gave her view of the Mansard roof of the bungalow with its dormer windows standing still in a row. The laced, snow-white curtains behind the glass windows barred any and every casual sneak peek. Sighing, she placed her bag on the chair and rested her easel on it. She pulled the newspaper and hastily turned its pages to read the news she had briefly read in the morning.
“Suicide”, said Mr. Jonanthan as he placed the cup with vapors drifting.
“That’s what the paper says. Sad, eh?”, she questioned back.
“Indeed. Not for the reason that is presented but for the reasons that run deep”, he said with a doleful voice.
“Murder?”, she said with fear gripping her soul.
“Its for you to contemplate and police to find out if they can. As you can see that was one of the last two bungalows which stood tall amongst the skyscrapers around. It was an eyesore for ‘FSI’ greedy”, he clarified.
It was the moment of epiphany as her glance met with the posh, modern-looking skyscrapers around the bungalow.
“Don’t be surprised if you find another news of the closure of this café for the same reason”, he said, as if prophetically, making her heart miss a beat…
Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash
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