An old man sat at a desk, his head buried into his chest, eyes closed and arms crossed across a bloated tummy. His legs were crossed too. Lips pouted in concentration, reading glasses held precariously on the nose, soft snores could be heard coming from his being. His clothes were rumpled, mismatched and faded.

The desk was empty, not because the man was fastidious in such matters. It was empty because he didn’t have anything to do; which would also explain why he was dozing in the middle of a sultry afternoon.

The man’s head slid further down and he woke up with a snort and a sudden jerk. He looked around, confused for a second. Where was he? Was that breeze he felt? Why was it so hot? He closed his eyes, slapped himself and opened them again. Ah he was on a park bench. Wait no that didn’t seem right. He was in his office only a while ago. Who transported him onto this bench? What conspiracy wa…

“Sir I got your lunch.”

Ah, thought the sixty-year old man. Yes of course he was waiting for his faithful driver to bring his lunch. As the young man unpacked the food, he said, “You’re a good man.”

The young man grinned, closed his eyes in prayer and then attacked his food. “So no clients?”

The old man looked confused for a second. Clients? But the park…no, he was in the office after all. No conspiracy. “Nothing yet. But I am hopeful.”

The driver nodded but didn’t add anything. This had been going on for two months now. Every morning he would take the old man to the park for some fresh air. He would doze off and when he woke, he would be back in an office he hadn’t been to in the past fifteen years, awaiting mysterious clients to drop out of thin air. After lunch, they would go back home where the old man would type up a report on his rusty old typewriter before realizing he was home, not in office, and definitely not in the park.

But the young man was happy to serve his delusions. “Sir I have a good feeling about today. Someone will come, just you wait.”

The old smiled, a secret smile, like he was in on the secret. He touched his nose and winked. “It will be a girl, mid-thirties, beautiful, someone who is looking for her husband. Just you see if I ain’t right.”

The man saluted by way of response, cleared away the plates and brought out the sweet box. After much contemplation, the old man picked up a white square, bit into it and closed his eyes in serene pleasure.

“Shankar where are we?” he asked after the square had been eaten and enjoyed – so a good five minutes later.

“Where do you think sir?”

The old man smiled. He touched his nose again and winked enigmatically. But he did not respond. He patted the young man on the back and went back to staring ahead. He would keep his secret. Everyone thought he had gone senile but they didn’t know…didn’t know it was the young man who was crazy.

 

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