Saturday, July 13, 2013

Exit Enter Exit Enter

I used to live on the top floor of the apartment block that fell like a house of cards in the last rains.
Every floor had four apartments. Mine was in the south wing, the lucky direction. Another bachelor lived opposite. Two apartments faced the east and, the lift and the staircase were towards the west. A beautiful girl stayed in the one next to mine. The other had a young family that made a lot of noise - the baby bawled, the man shouted and the lady whimpered, forever, whenever.
The bachelor was weird. Every morning, at eight, he would step out of his apartment, go back in, come out, return inside, and on some days he repeated that till my eye at the peephole ached. I called on him one day, pretending that I wanted an old issue of the newspaper. He seemed irritated but invited me inside. I stood near the door while he rummaged somewhere within. I found out why he found it difficult to leave. A checklist was pinned on the back of the front door – lights, a/c, washing m/c, balcony doors, taps, tv, gas, geyser, fridge, front door, cupboard, money, microwave, computer, water-purifier, ups, stove. What a maniac, I thought.
The day the apartment crashed, trouble precipitated slowly, like a trickle of snow that precedes an avalanche. The apartment block tilted a little. Cracks appeared on the walls. I stepped out when I heard the first crash. It came from the young family’s apartment. The bachelor came out too. We heard the woman cry for help. He went back inside his apartment. He is going to start his usual routine, I thought. He returned with a hammer. He banged on the neighbor’s door. He kicked and hammered at the door, near the lock, and the frame splintered easier than expected. It was a mess inside. Half the roof had caved in. The bachelor went in, searching. I stayed out. The block swayed and the cracks in the hallway broadened. I knocked on the beautiful girl’s door. She opened it, bleary eyed, beautiful. We heard the bachelor shout. We looked inside the other apartment. The dust had settled. The woman’s legs were trapped beneath a fallen beam. She was still conscious and holding her baby tight. The man cradled and soothed her. She held out her baby to the man. The man took the baby and held it out to me. The floor wobbled. The beautiful girl disappeared down the stairs shrieking like a banshee. I wanted to follow her. I heard the man cry please. I turned to him. He had crawled to the door, on that shaky floor. I took the baby. I told him that he should leave too. He smiled at me and shook his head. Maybe, he wants to check his pointless list, I thought.
I ran down the stairs and barely cleared the building before it came crashing down.  The local paper had a photo of me, the baby and its father who returned after some trip later that day. When the rubble was cleared, another photo claimed attention. It showed the bachelor and the young mother, dusty, bloody and dead but otherwise miraculously preserved, holding each other, like lovers. One of the cheap rags insinuated that angle, and carried some stupid remark from the widower to back the story. I could have corrected that but it seemed right to let that woman be, with or without love, in the arms of the man who preferred not to exit. 


  1. Very well!!! What I liked the most is the person narrating it! And the ending!!! As the tag states it indeed is the world around us alle?

    1. Thanks a lot, KP... great that you liked this one. At times, only the weird ones stay and the smart ones leave, right?

    2. Yes indeed!!

      This fiction reminded me slightly of a Mark Twain short fiction called Luck.. have you read this?

    3. I guess the luck of the husband reminded you of the Mark Twain story...right?

      Thx once again...cheerio.