Previously – I first hear the voice when I look into the eyes of the beggar on the corner of my lane. 2280, it says. The next day, I don’t see the beggar. Yesterday, I learn that he’s dead. For some reason, the number remains in my head.
There is that voice again. And that sensation. It was like I was breathing in something disgusting but it had no smell. It felt heavy.
I quickly look around the bus stop but the dozen or so people around me do not notice it. I turn towards the man, whose eyes said that number, and who was the reason for that sensation, or so it seemed.
He was a middle aged man, slightly obese. He was dressed for work and was continuously looking at his watch. He was perspiring a little. I guess he is attending something important.
I am a little early today. My bus will not come for another 5-10 minutes. Only one more day to go and I will be done with my college for this semester.
After a minute or two, a normal bus arrived. It was full and people were already foot-boarding it. I looked at the man again. And coincidentally our eyes met again. Though it was only for a fraction of second, there was that voice again.
The man looked towards the bus. He looked towards his watch and back to the bus again. And then deciding something, he tried to board it.
He pushed and pushed for a foot hold. But the bus was already overcrowded and there just wasn’t place. He tried to grab the window bars but failed. The bus started moving again. Only the ladies were able to get on.
The man tried one last desperate grab but either someone pushed him or he fell due to his own momentum, but in the end he fell on the road. Luckily, there was no traffic behind and he immediately got up, brushed himself off and joined the crowd again.
He was breathing heavily now. There were sweat stains around his arm pits. He looked at his watch again and stamped his foot down. The people around him were looking at him strangely, including me.
Suddenly, he started breathing in gasps. He doubled over and tried to suck in air. Another man started to move towards him, asking him if he was alright. The man could not reply. He started hiccupping now. There was a honk and I saw my bus approaching.
People were gathering around that man now. Some took out their phones to call an ambulance. I saw the bus and saw the man. He was now on the floor, people swarming around him. Someone took action and was shooing people away to give the man some air.
I decided that there was nothing I could do anyway and boarded my bus.
In the evening, I heard that the man died.
He died of a heart attack and it was almost immediately after I left.
For some reason, I remembered the numbers again. This time I tried to remember the voice. It was familiar, that’s for sure. But I could not pin point where I heard it. Apart from in my head, of course.
I wrote down the numbers in a book.
And as I was watching them, I was struck by a crazy idea.
But no. I dismissed it right away. It was too crazy and too impossible to be real.
I would not say I’m a realist but there’s a limit to the inconceivable I imagine.
So I pushed that thought away. But by this time tomorrow, I would start believing what I thought was impossible.