The bench

It was the evening of a big festival and I was out in the market alone. As luck would have it I was there a day before and the market was bustling with people but now it was silent and deserted. A couple of roadside stall vendors were still trying to sell something but I never saw any buyers. Yes, I couple of smokers but that was about it.

I found myself a bench and sat down with a book in my hand. I didn’t feel like reading so I got busy studying the shops and their names. On my left, at some distance, there was an old woman sitting on the floor. I didn’t think much of it but noticed her closely when she said random things. Once in a while, someone would cross her and she would make a comment. I couldn’t really understand what she said so didn’t pay much attention. 

I finally got busy with my book and was a few pages in when she started walking toward me. She looked at me – still at some distance. She started walking towards me and sat on the bench next to me. She looked like an old woman. The ones you come across. Her walking stick was old and worn. She then leaned in quickly and looked around before saying to me – you should have never taken this seat.

I was obviously taken aback not and had no response. She then looked around and started crying silently. Her tears were black but she didn’t seem to have any makeup. I looked around and noticed everyone had left, the vendors were gone and their stalls were packed like they were never open. Right ahead of me was a charitable clinic. I remember it was shut and there was a lock on the door, the interior dark but it wasn’t the case anymore. The door of the clinic was partially open and there were some lights on. The old woman got up leaving her stick behind and started walking towards the door, she walked slowly and entered through the door. She looked back and smiled at me saying — come, you will get the treatment you need.

I looked around and hoped there would be someone who would help me move because I found myself glued to the bench as if I was paralyzed. After a while, I got up and started walking towards the door — unwilling but still moving towards the clinic. I reached the door and entered the clinic, I turned around, smiled, and shut the door from inside.

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