“Remember me ?” I said.
The shop belonged to my college friend.
He settled down in our village and took over the management of his father’s grocery store.
I left for distant shores.
Over the years, we hardly kept in touch.
Streaks of grey hair and a potbelly aside, he had not changed much.
It took him a second to recognize me.
“Welcome back!” he said.
We swapped stories that we missed sharing over the years.
“One kilo of basmati rice!”
That voice sounded familiar.
She recognised both of us and smiled.
On her way out, she flashed another smile at us.
“She married a doctor and has three kids now. The eldest one is married,” my friend said.
“Remember how we always used to jump on to the bus she travelled in?” I said.
Those memories made us both laugh.
Yes! It felt good to be back home.
He adjusted the headband and checked in the mirror.
“Yes, now the logo is visible!”
He continued admiring the view.
The material of the t-shirt was perfect. The stomach measurements were not. It stretched the fabric!
“Hmm, I will need to sweat a lot !”
The price tag was showing on the track pant. He tore it off.
The sports shoes were costly but not as much as the treadmill.
That purchase had burned a hole in his pocket.
He looked at the clock.
Ten A.M to eleven A.M was exercise time.
The TV timer started beeping.
He thought for a second.
“Maybe I will start tomorrow. I cannot miss this show.”
He heated a bowl of popcorn and took out a can of his favourite soft drink. Then settling down on the couch before the TV, he reached for the remote.
He crumped up the sheet of paper. He could repeat what was on it word for word.
After all, he had read it a hundred times.
‘….your services are no longer required…….inability to cope with the latest technology…..’
The words in the letter were in bold.
‘….on the wrong side of fifty..’ his manager, now ex – manager’s voice echoed in his mind.
His eyes wandered around the room. It came to rest on a faded army uniform. A medal pinned on it caught his eye.
The metal had lost its shine, but the memories it brought back were fresh.
He remembered running through a hail of bullets, carrying a wounded soldier on his shoulder.
“I did not give up then, ” he said to himself, ” Why would I give up now ?”
He picked up a book on computers and started reading it.