Saturday, August 23, 2008

At the end

It is one of those weird true stories that nobody seems to know the truth about. But I know. I know because I saw him live, and grow old, and wither away into nothingness.

Tish Trovsky was my neighbour. He was born in the old house that had the old oak in a garden along Old Manor Lane. Tish was an unusual child. He was always waiting for things to happen to him. He waited for his mother to kiss him goodbye everyday before he left for school. When old Mrs. Trovsky succumbed to a sudden bout of pneumonia, Tish had to give up on school, because he could not wait forever for the goodbye kiss.

He then waited in front of the "Jonas and James" machine shop looking wide eyed at the lathe machines eloquently shaping metal till Ole Jonas took him in as an apprentice. Tish always believed that good things come after you have duly waited for them. He even waited for seven nights outside Patricia Gatsby's window because he thought her kiss was the one to wait for. Patricia kissed him when her neighbour threatened to call the police and create perfectly called for nuisance.

Then it happened. The only thing he had not waited for a single day in his life happened. Just like that, while he was returning home from work one evening, he bent down to pick up a hat blowing across Elm Street. It was a beige coloured cloche. He picked it up because it blew right into his feet, he told me later on one of those long summer afternoons when the everything waits for the sun to set. Oh but I am jumping the gun here.

The cloche was closely followed by its owner, a certain Ms. Brunswick. Elena Brunswick went on to love and marry Tish for reasons no one could fathom. Not even Tish. But she had arrived without so much as an inkling of a wait, so Tish took it as some signal from the divine hands of time to stop waiting and got married. For the next six months, Tish did not even remember the day of the week (he said it was always Sunday).

Then it happened again. One fine summer afternoon, when Tish was lazily sitting on the teak bench in the verandah, Elena left house saying, "Give me around 20 minutes. I will be back." So Tish sat waiting. 20 minutes. 25 minutes. 30 minutes. 1 hour. 12 hours. 2 weeks. 4 weeks. 6 months. 5 years. 15 years.

No body knows what happened to Elena. Some say her ex-boyfriend, who was a captain in the navy, suddenly returned alive that day, after being declared dead during combat. Some report the presence of UFO's in the vicinity of Old Manor Lane. But Tish never gave up on the 20 minutes. He waited for her to return. He waited for so long that soon he turned the colour of teak and his roots sank deep into the ground. His legs turned to wood, and then his arms, and finally his head.

You can still make out his silhouette in the gnarled wood that grows through the bench in the verandah of the old house that has the old oak in the garden along Old Manor Lane. And if you put your ear to the bark where it grazes the back rest of the bench, you can still hear the weird "thump, thump, thump" echoing the remnants of Tish's life.

You may think this is a sad story but it is not. At the end, Tish went on doing what he did best. He waited. First, he waited. Most of this life, he waited. At the end, he was still waiting.

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