April 20, 2008

The Walk.

The rain was crushing down on the pavement, water flooding the small cementlines of the pedestrian causeway. A smooth sole slapped against the fineskinned bricks to hold the ground. Joshua has returned after his years of wandering; now he was a bit old and awfully lot wise. The straw hat he wore he had traded for a catfish from a peasant working in a flooded paddy. He loved his hat and the smell of rain through it. He had all the time in the world, a vagabond they called him. No one loved him nor any one hated him to be, he had lot of friends but no one ever asked him if he could stay awhile longer; how he loved the feeling. Meanwhile in the heavens the clouds still continued to rumble.
From b'neath his hatline he could see the wet pavement now starting to flood, he saw the rain drops as they hung onto the hat's strawends and he observed them as they fell into the native pool and made ripples of the cloudy sky above. He smiled. He smiled at himself for being so like a kid, rugged and simple. Water was now entering the weak cloth that covered his body, the hat started smelling very damp and uneasy. The Market road turned into the Shoe street, where he trod alone making noises from his smoothened shoe; in the afternoon, city slept.
One shoe-mender, old and alone in his shop lifted his head from below the table and silently inquired about such a bad state of a sole. He saw Joshua coming towards him, still the same, no change; he still walked like a child. As the returned came closer, the old man sat up and bespectacled himself and watched the young man clothed in a maroon tunic and grey fieldpants walk under his shed, his wet shoes draining themselves at the stone steps. The youngster then took off his rain coat and hung it over the bamboo that came out of the roof, the canvas bag he owned was once white and new, now it was as old and dark as the old man but like him it was strong still. Joshua now removed his wet shoes and slid them over to the old man.
'Fix them.'
Looking at the beaten apparatus the oldie hung the shoes onto his fingers and slung them into the waste.
'Chacha, no. Those are mine....'
'Arrh Josha, they are no use. Now give me your feet I need to take new measures to sew new ones for you'
'Well if it was anyone else than you I wouldn't have let him do this. But perhaps I really need a new pair.'
Josha kept his feet in front of the old-timer, over the scales. The practiced eye took note of every dimension of the feet and the brain started calculating and sketching a new pair. The material, the stitch, the curves, the volume; every cut was memorized. Then the shoemaker turned to his table and writing something he said-
'So what have you been up to lately?'
'Nothing just roaming. Did you hear of the raid at the village of Tabacus?'
'No, what about it?'
'I wanted to buy some tobacco there, but ended up fighting in the village gang.'
'How much did they pay you?'
'Well, that's the best part of the deal, 1 bronze for each bandit, I tell you I had a feast with wine and rum that night old man, we all enjoyed.'
'Fool...threw the money to the monkey. It could've helped you later.
'Could have...but the small tobacco transit earned me more than I needed. So what use was this money?
Enough chit-chat old man, throw me the boots. For a man as fine as you, those new boots must've been complete a week ago.'
The old man withdrew from his scribbling and laughingly pulled out a draw and gave the new shoes to the youngster.
'Five coppers.'
'Here...no use bargaining with you. So long old timer.'
Sliding the money into the cashbox, he watched the boy gather up himself and move on, disappearing into the sun's scarlet hue. The rain had since stopped but the street was wet and the new shoes were making a different noise.
'He still walks like a child...A wise child...'

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