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Just Around the Corner
Where do I go now? Is there a way out of this? No. I don’t think so. As if I haven’t tried already. There is no way out. I am stuck.
Just three minutes ago, I rounded the corner and bumped into that kid. Yes, I can remember that, all right. The kid had fallen down and his basketball had bounced across the street, stopping on the pavement beside the barber shop. I had told him to walk carefully otherwise he might get hurt, even though the mistake was mine in the first place. I shouldn’t have been walking with my eyes closed.
Now, why did I close my eyes? Let’s see. This has happened to me for the umpteenth time since… since when? Okay, since umpteen times before now. I have been walking around the corner every time, bumping into that kid telling him to walk carefully. Only this time, I had my eyes closed. This time.
Now I remember. I didn’t have a clue what was going on (not that I have any clue now), so I had tried to walk around that corner with my eyes closed, hoping to miss that kid this time.
But eventually I ended up knocking the same ball out of the hands of the same kid at…
I look at my watch. The watch is working perfectly. Time is passing by. In spite of that it is not changing. I look at the grandfather clock in the window of the antique shop beside me. The second hand is moving constantly. Both my watch and the grandfather clock show 4.30. But how is it possible? Wasn’t it 4.30 just five minutes ago? The time should be around 4.35.
At the same time.
I clench my fist, digging my nails hard enough to make blood come out. Yes, I am alive. And I can feel pain. This is not a dream. Wasn’t I sure of that from the beginning? But when was the beginning? It seems like I have been running into that kid while rounding that corner ever since the start of time.
But time never started, did it? If time isn’t changing, then it didn’t start at all. And if it didn’t start, then how come I exist? I can’t understand this. Why would I? After all do I even know who I am? Yes. Everyone knows who they are. I am some person, living at some place, having some people as my family. But right now these are just some things that I definitely don’t know. Things that I don’t have the slightest idea about.
I look around me, expecting to see a different road, a different place. But everywhere I turn, the view is the same. If I turn around, I face the barber shop, which lies on my right and also to my left even though I have my back to it. But the same goes with the antique shop with the grandfather clock in the window. I just can’t change this scenario.
Nor can I get away from it.
I feel like going ahead, walking around the corner. I take one step at a time towards the end of the shop, watching out for anything. I glance sideways at the shop window and catch my reflection looking right at me. Even though I see myself as clear as myself, I can’t get any particular features. If you ask me what colour are my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to answer you. Same goes with the hair. Same goes with every single part of my appearance.
I continue walking. Should I try closing my eyes? Yes, that’s a good idea. Maybe that way I will miss the kid. And if I miss the kid, maybe I can get out of this. Maybe then I can just head into the barber shop and get a nice haircut. Afterwards I can go to my house, take a shower and lay down with my eyes closed. Eyes closed.
So I close my eyes. And I walk.
I can feel that there is no wind. Or maybe I can’t feel at all. That doesn’t matter. I have to walk. Somehow I know when to round the corner. Just when I angle my feet to take a turn, I hear a rustle. The sound of denim against skin. And then something hits me hard just below my waist. I open my eyes. It’s not something, it’s a kid. He looks at me innocently as his basketball bounces to the pavement across the street and stops right at the door of the barber shop. I ruffle his hair and say –
“Walk carefully, young fella. You might hurt yourself.” He smiles at me and then walks by, leaving his basketball lying at the door of the barber shop. I look around for that kid, but he is gone. I shrug. What time is it? I look at my watch.
It says 4.30.