Holding Hands6 mins 32.1K 6 mins 32.1K
‘Why do I have to keep taking all this from your mom all the time?’
'What do you mean? She is trying to help. Buying a house is a big decision. All she said was talk to another bank about the loan. Don’t see anything wrong with that.'
‘She thinks I’m an imbecile that I won’t even shop around before finalizing the mortgage. Buying a house is our decision. Why do I have to keep getting advice from other people?'
‘Other people? She is my mom! You even had Sara’s husband call me about the house.’
‘That’s different. He knows about these things. He is in real estate.’
‘He is a bloody tech support guy for an architect’s firm. How is he a real estate expert?’
As they sat in the car, both of them ruminating over the biggest decision that they had made in their lives. It felt good but they also felt nervous. They had been married for less than a year but buying a house felt like the bigger commitment. The silence in the car was drowned out by their minds running full throttle replaying every single doomsday scenario in their heads. It was always the case when they made a big decision like this. If left on their own alone, they would have run back to the agent’s office and asked to cancel the contract. It was in times like these that they really were happy to have a partner to lean on. The car felt like a nice cocoon where they could play out all the negative thoughts but still emerge feeling confident about their decision. As both of them sat there, staring at the windshield, the silence started to get deafening and the mind-numbing remorse was getting too much. Did I get swayed by the agent? Did we really need to get into a mortgage now? What if I lose my job?
‘You know what, let’s get out and walk to the park. Like we used to. I need a smoke as well.’
It was very quiet in the park. The only people around were the runners out for an evening run. But they came in and went away blending into the background. Every single one of them was running with some kind of headphones on. It was as if the runners wanted to have no connection to the park and even the park just rejected them as something of a pest. Like the pigeons that descend down at lunch time for scraps and then disappear back out to nowhere. The park felt surprisingly quiet in spite of the noise of all the traffic.
‘Sir, I am sorry to disturb you. I was thinking, may I get a cigarette from you, sir, please?’ A mangy looking young man stopped them on the path. It is always funny when these rough guys try to be polite. It’s so funny that there is no way to turn them down.
‘Sure, here you go. Do you live around here?’
‘No, we just hang around in the park.’ he said pointing to his mates on the other side. The young man, almost a boy, looked like an epitome of what’s wrong with the society. He seemed like a person who had enough but just not the aptitude to do anything useful with their lives. The only time you saw these guys were in parks or next to colleges, just hanging around. What does hang around even mean? It is just a socially acceptable way of saying waste your time and a good education on cigarettes, drugs and
hip-hop. ‘Haven’t seen you before around here’, the boy asked as he lit the cigarette. ‘No, we have not been here for a while now.’
‘OK, I’ll see you around’. He had a surprisingly firm handshake for a young man who seemed to care about so little in life. They watched him waltz away to the group of friends.
‘Why do these guys walk like they own the place?’
‘Oh come on! He was just a kid looking for a cigarette. We did the same when we were his age.’
‘What is he? Your smoking buddy now?’
‘Why do you always judge people? It’s just the way he is dressed. I am sure if he just dumps his clothes and wears a proper pullover, you wouldn’t think twice about talking to him about global warming or the futility of war.’
The walk down to the bridge was something that they had done a hundred times before. This park used to be their favourite place to meet up before they got married. When they decided to buy the house, the big selling point was that it was close to this park. They imagined themselves going for walks in the park on evenings just like the one today. It was perfect. Just as they got on the bridge, the sun was sinking below the line of houses on the other side. ‘Should have got my camera. It would have been a nice photo with us holding hands and walking into the sunset. All Hollywood-like.’ They were thinking of getting a photo montage made for the big wall in the living room. That was the only thing that both of them agreed on for decorating their new house. Everything else from the furniture to the garden plants was up for debate. These small arguments always something that both of them enjoyed. At the end of each argument, they seemed to fall in love all over again.
In the middle of the bridge, they held each other in an embrace. There was awkwardness in the embrace and an eerie feeling of being stared at. ‘Your smoking buddy is staring.’ ‘So what? He will be seeing a lot of us here from next month when we move in. Maybe I should be friends with him. Neighbours and all that.’ As they held each other watching the sun go down, they were oblivious to everything around them. The runners, the traffic, the park everything seemed to dissolve into the background.
They barely noticed the starling murmuration building up over the trees. They did not even notice the 20-foot yacht in the waters below the bridge. They definitely did not notice the smoking buddy and his guys creep up behind them. Five of them suddenly seemed to have appeared right next to them. They did not notice the fact that they had bats. They did not notice that the guys were angry. They did not even get a chance to look around before both of them got hit on their heads. They were kicked around and stamped in the groin. The brutal force of hatred was immense. Did they even manage to let out a scream? No one knows. No one else was around the bridge to even notice this happening. No one else was around to see them lying on the bridge with their bloody faces. As the boys left them bleeding on the ground, the Smoking Buddy came up to them one last time and picked up the cigarette packet which had fallen out of his jacket- ‘Fuckin poofters. You think the whole fuckin’ world has gone homo. Stay away, you arse-fuckers!’ As they lay there, bleeding, hurt and helpless, the only thought that crossed their mind was: ‘Maybe not the place for us to buy a house’.