Death by a journal

DSC_0724Tomas sat at the window sill looking out at this world. From the first floor ledge he could see the customers in a line waiting for the shop to open, the domestic help washing his rarely-driven car and the next-door mechanic busy on an old motorcycle. He drew heavily from his cigarette and reach for the glass of cheap whisky from the table beside him. Tomas sat there every day, for hours on end. His wife brought him breakfast, lunch and dinner at the exact spot and the only time Tomas got up from his chair was to use the washroom or to replenish his empty alcohol bottle.

That day he saw a familiar figure wave out to him from the road. He had not seen Brahma since their trip to Goa seven years earlier. He seemed content and happy, Tomas told himself as they shared a cup of tea. Through their talks, he found Brahma was now an accomplished publisher operating a flourishing business in the nearby capital. He was looking for fresh new writing for a client’s magazine and accepting applications. The 40-year-old had read some of Tomas’s literature in college and was keen on including some of his works in next month’s edition. He ran into Tomas’s wife last week and discussed the opportunity with her as well. It would be a good way to get back into writing, Brahma added and that extra money always helps. They shook hands having agreed on the terms and Brahma left his address with Tomas, continuously stressing his enthusiasm to begin working with an old friend.

The following day Tomas took a bath, cleared the dirty glasses and ash tray off his table and told his wife to make some chicken. He took out his journal, filled his pen with some ink and sat down to write. He looked outside his window and saw the same customers lined up, the same help washing the same car and the same mechanic still trying to fix that bike. He looked at every person with intent, carefully trying to extract a story from their actions. His wife brought his lunch and told she would be visiting her friend for the afternoon so that Tomas was not disturbed. He spent the next few hours trying to conjure something until he decided he needed a drink to help him clear his head. He finished his glass and began writing, a weight suddenly lifting off his shoulders.

His wife returned late that evening, surprised to find the house plunged into darkness. She switched on the light in Tomas’s room, only to find the former student editor sitting motionless in his chair, his whisky bottle empty. All signs of life had left him, save for his now-content face flushing some unknown satisfaction that no one would ever know. His journal lay on his lap with only three words on the page before the pen trailed off – ‘Today, I know…’

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