Everyday she walked to the market, early in the morning. The weather hardly changed this side of the country. Always humid, we were next to the sea. Its close to a famous tourist spot. But the beaches here are better, untouched and serene, yet! I’m new to the place, but this has been my home for the past two years now. The first time I saw her, was when I was setting up the vegetables and fruits at 7 am around seven months back. She sat across the street munching on a bag full of oranges. She was carrying a small plastic bag to dispose off the peels. I liked that she was considerate not to litter. Well, she just sat, watching this corner come to life, watching all of us.
Since I was new to the place, at first I thought she’s a tourist who’s come here to unwind and relax.But to my surprise, I saw her everyday. I know her routine now. She comes in the morning,Â presumablyÂ from a walk, sometimes with her camera, sometimes with a book, which always had a newspaper cover, so I have never known the name of the books she reads! Sometimes she comes with a notepad, her laptop and sometimes with gifts. She sits right across from our shop, waiting for Soul Diner to open. Â It serves you everything, from breakfast to dinner. Its run by a humble family who’d come here fifteen years ago from some remote village in Europe. She occupies a different table everyday, never repeating the same table the following day. She always always sits on one the tables on the outside. She sits, orders her coffee or tea and begins her day by reading the newspaper. She takes a break sometimes to joins the kids on their way to school in their game of hopscotch . These are the kids for whom she carries gifts.
Usually, she continues to sit around till noon, sometimes she leaves after dusk. She chooses a good spot for the writing she does. For she can see everyone and everything but Â hardly talks to anyone. I believed she was working on a novel or something. While I desperately hoped it had nothing to do about this place!! Because, if her work ever got published, this place would become the next tourist hot spot, something I don’t quite fancy.
I’ve never inquired about her, for I liked the simple smiles we’ve come to exchange every morning. Now, she buys her early morning fruits from our shop. Her favourites are oranges and pears, a conclusion from her buying pattern. She doesn’t like grapes.
What she does after she leaves or where she comes from, is something I’ve never been curious about. It has never mattered, somehow. But in the second month, I remember the time when she didn’t come. It made me restless. Not that I had some kind of intuition about her being in danger or something. But I guess I’d gotten used to her. At least, for she had become a reason for me to be in time to the shop everyday!
I was glad when she returned to her routine a week later, only this time with a boy. He may be her brother, boyfriend, cousin or an old friend. Nothing about him disturbed me. But he was surely worth a diary entry. The first morning he came with her, he smiled at me, as if she was introducing him to me. He accompanied her to this corner on early mornings only on a few days. Usually, he’d join her at noon and they’d go somewhere together, else he’d sit with her and they’d talk for hours. For a while, I thought she’d leave with him when he’d go back. But two weeks later, when there Â was no sign of him, it was a comforting assurance that she hadn’t left. I has just gotten used to her, that’s all!! Besides, she was an ardent fruit lover who’d buy form our shop everyday. So hell no, I didn’t want her to leave!!
Well, what..its been some seven months now and yesterday when she bought his lychees, she left her notepad on the counter. I waited an hour to cross the road to return it to her. When I did, she simply Â held my hand holding her diary and pushed it back toward me and said “Its for you”. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t taken aback. I wasn’t suspicious. I didn’t feel anything. I smiled and simply turned around to walk back to my shop, While she continued to sit on her chosen spot of the day, this time reading another book with a newspaper cover.
So last night, I opened the first page, which was dated of a certain September Monday of the year last with my sketch on the first page and a story woven around it. The story was about me, but a complete work of imagination. Even my name. The second entry was dated to the first day he had come to this market seven months ago adn there was another short story. There were so many stories, each different from another, so gripping, I couldn’t keep it aside. I didn’t sleep last night. They all started in the same way but were woven and ended so differently. They all had the same protagonist, me.
I was overwhelmed. While she was writing me in short stories, I was writing her in my blogs.
My past had trained me to think such a coincidence was never possible. But this has helped me shoot back to an old self I’ve been finding reasons to revive.
At the note on the last page told me she’s a native of this place with a small house in the middle of a small ancestral abandoned land which is now named after her and is her responsibility. It confirmed that the boy who came to visit her once, was her bother.
Today, I’m sitting in my shop and we’ve exchanged our daily smiles. She’s bought her apples and is probably reading the book she was reading yesterday. She seems calm, she’s had her lunch. I will cross the road and join her at dusk. I think its time. Â At dusk, we would introduce ourselves.