In that quiet corner of the park, he had made this bench permanent as his seat. Not sure where he came from, but he would make it a point to sit on the bench, one afternoon after the other. Right from the time the sun would tilt into the western horizon, till the time it would finally set … almost covering the entire afternoon into the evening. He remained seated there … watching the proceedings around. All alone, all by himself.
The town wasn’t his, neither anyone could recollect having seen him or met him in distant past. But the way he would sit on the bench, one would assume that he has made this town a home.
Was he alone? None would ever know.
Clad in his signature costume – a faded pair of denims and a khaki half-shirt – he would be seen visiting the park everyday, and slowly everyone would have considered him a valid resident of the town.
But was he a permanent resident? Who would ever know?
From the point he entered the park, till the time he left his seat, one could see him looking tirelessly around. The children, the youth and the elderly whoever visited the park never missed his sight. Yet none exactly knew where he lived. And when he left his seat, he would simply vanish outside the park … until the next afternoon when he would be back at the park again.
Where would he leave for? Guess none would ever know.
Stranger would be a nicer qualification for him. But then he was a stranger who was a regular, so much so that the visitors to the park could vouch for him that he would come and sit on that bench, his permanent seat, around the stipulated time.
There were days when he would keep looking upwards, towards the sky. May be, he lost someone who he felt was up there. He kept looking up as if that person would peep out among the clouds any time for one last look at him. But as it often happens, the look never resulted in anything significant … he got a bit dissatisfied looking upwards.
What would he be looking for? None would ever know the answer.
Most of the remaining time, he would be looking around … or stare constantly at a group, whether it was a bunch of children or a group of young people didn’t matter.
He would smile, or sometimes frown at the happenings around. But he would never talk … nor even attempt to even start a conversation with anyone around. Those in the park were used to his presence, and behaved as if he was known. In short, he had slowly started to become a known stranger!
One day, a group of young girls were having a joyful time enjoying an animated conversation. The stranger heard and was curiously amused. He seemed interested and wanted to get into it. So he tried to call some in the group. He waved his hands at the group and tried to call any one of them, but remained silent as he wasn’t sure of their names. His hesitancy was evident, but he just wanted to relate to their talks.
At first the girls didn’t see him wave at him … but were soon apprehensive of his gesture.
Most of them got scared seeing his hand pointing at them. There were faces that were afraid to even speak out. Having seen him regularly wasn’t all that difficult, but to see him make this gesture frightened them. They would sense something was suspicious, and seeing him look at them made them a wee bit uncomfortable too.
The initial hesitation over, most girls in the group were of the opinion to leave that place. This would mean that the stranger would no longer be able to even spot them or even try to follow them. To move out of the park meant a safer way to avoid an interaction with an unknown person.
Soon they left the place, and the park slowly started to become normal again. The stranger, with a disappointed face, kept looking at the way the girls took to exit the place. His face expressed the hidden frustration.
May be he had something to ask them, but none would ever know what it was for.
A stranger that he was, he remained a stranger even though he had become so known as the person sitting on his permanent seat.