The benches of public park had no other constant companion like Jane. From 4 until 6, she would just sit on one of them; getting more and more comfortable as it dusked. She would come even when the park was fully empty. And when the only noises came from the brown leaves rustling on the grass. And even when it snowed.
Her eyes would gaze all corners of the park, starting from the left to right. And back to left again, till it was 6 on her pink digital watch. Then she would gather herself up and help herself home. She gave a last look before leaving, as if wanting to take the park home with her. This was a routine.
Her father got anxious every time she went out in the evening. He had tried talking to her multiple times. But she was a tribal in front of a British explorer, intimidated by his sight. Her behaviour troubled him to no ends. He knew he had to talk to her someday.
Today was different. Her mind wandered more than it ever did. It was darker than usual. A quick glance on the watch revealed it was half an hour past her leaving time. Startled, she got up and moved to the gate. She looked back like always. Forgetting to do so was out of question. It was dark, except for a tiny shimmer of light from the bench she was sitting on. Her watch must have fallen down while she was leaving.
Rushing to the bench, she found a shabby mid aged man holding her watch. He looked underfed and pitied. She stood for a moment in front of him while he tinkered with her prized watch. She stood for a moment. But she could stand for eternity just analyzing what all he must have suffered to be what he was today. Instead of taking the watch back, she just found a packet of biscuits from her purse to offer. The man took them with glee.
Her routine changed the next day. She waited till 6:30 till the man arrived in all his shabbiness to sit on the bench. While he devoured on the sandwich she gave him today, she noticed his unkempt beard looked like . His face had wrinkles which seemed to have frozen a particular expression. It was as if he couldn't overcome whatever situation brought that expression.
Day after day this continued. Until one day, he didn't appear when he always did. She looked around desperately in all corners of the park. Her efforts seemed to work when she saw a figure which looked like him. In a shady corner under a tree, there he lay. He sat upright as her footsteps grew louder, his hands emerging from the inside of his long dark coat.
Seconds later, suddenly, the birds which perched above the tree flew away. A loud sound filled the otherwise sleepy park. Jane felt all her muscles relax as if this was the most peaceful time of her life.
Meanwhile, her father was anxious as usual. Strolling inside his study impatiently, his gaze fell on the empty drawer. His pistol was missing; again. "I've had enough," he muttered as he frantically walked towards his car. Few minutes later at the park, he couldn't keep his jaw from dropping. His adopted daughter stood still, with his pistol in one hand and a smile pasted on her face.
In her mind, Jane had saved the man from further pity, sadness and ignorance. Something she had been a victim of for majority of her life. As the bright headlights of the car lit her up, there was an unmistakable resolve on her face. She was solving a problem, bit by bit. The man may have been her latest victim but certainly not the first.
Image source : www.colorbox.com