This short story is actually a continuance of “My Soulless Hometown”. However, I’ve tried to create it as an individual story of it own. Hope you’ll like it. 🙂
When he finally arrived at the main market, he saw a number of cars parked haphazardly on one side of the road, but the town still seemed deserted though. The hubbub of market place was absent. And the shops, on either side of the road, looked the same as it did eight years ago. And still as unattractive as before and were devoid of any customers. It gave him the feeling that only place with any sign of bustle was at the Bus Station.
Obiro felt uncomfortable when he suddenly became aware of the prying eyes of the shopkeepers, who were standing outside their shops, eagerly waiting for the buyers to grace their shops and watched the people passing by.
But he couldn’t escape the stare as he had to go past the market place to reach his home. Amid scores of viewers, he was a stranger in his own hometown.
As he neared his home, he stopped at one store ran by Bengali tradesman, where his parent used to buy grocery items when he was a child. He distinctly remembered how he loved running errands for others, not because he was attracted to the displays of the shop, but because he could earn little pocket money out of it.
Obiro didn’t notice much change in the inner of the shop. It had retained all the old fixtures. The high platform, where the store manager used to sit on mattress and did his daily transactions, was still there and still too high which reminded him one of his childhood experiences. He had come to buy some loose cooking mustard oil for his mother. After the shop assistant had filled the bottle, he was told to pay the money at the counter. Uncle, Dada, Manager – he tried many different names to draw the attention of the store manager. But the high platform stood like a wall and blocked them from seeing each other face. Besides, the store was packed with customers at that time. Several attempts later, he left the shop – oil bottle in one hand and crispy red two rupees note in another.
When he returned home, he couldn’t tell his mother what had happened – out of fear and shame. He was convinced that his mother would send him back to the shop to return the money if she comes to know about the unpleasant incident and it would be very embarrassing. He felt awfully guilty, but he was not ready to part with his crispy two rupees note at the same time. And that time was not like now when you cannot imagine buying anything with one rupee.
For a week, he dodged the shop and made excuses whenever his mother would try to send him on an errand. He was afraid that one of the shop assistants might grab him and pull or twist his ears.
Obiro chuckled to himself while handing money to the manager. He chuckled at his memories. But he knew his memories would never be able to hold him back from his resolution – to say goodbye to his aging hometown. There was no love lost between him and his reminiscence. He gathered his groceries and went on his way with his heavy luggage.