A little boy I met once

School BoyI really like certain type of English short stories. And only after browsing through the Guttenberg Archive I mentioned in the previous post, that I came to know that more than half of the stories I love are by O.Henry. Thanks to the NCERT syllabus. I still cherish those short stories in the ‘Read for Pleasure’ reader as well as the text book. And that is why I bought “Great Works of O Henry: 157 Stories’ at a Book Fair at Ernakulam yesterday.

Reading a few stories from that book reminded me of a little boy I met once. And I want to tell you about him.

And it is after sitting down to write something here that I realize how poor I am in writing. So many things strike me and I think “Why don’t I write that?!” but then, even before switching the computer on, I give up the idea due to sheer laziness.

It was during the monsoons in 2001 or 2002. I was a school going boy. And near to that junction that always smelled of freshly ground coffee, stand a girl and her two younger brothers waiting to board the school bus, everyday. Even though I will be running to catch my bus, we used to wish each other a good morning. I don’t remember when did it start, but I remember that it had become a routine.

I never realized that this was so much a part of my routine until one day when they were absent – all three of them. As I was nearing the junction I could see that they were not there. I looked at my watch. No I was not early (; nor late.). I felt as if I was unable to do something which I should have done.

But as I was passing the street light under which they used to stand, I heard a “Good Morning”. I turned back. No. they were not there. But I was sure that I heard it. And then from a group of boys which just passed me and going in the opposite direction, a smart one turned back and smiled. I smiled too. He wished me by bowing his head a little and smiled. I wished him too.

It was then that I realized that wishing that girl and her brothers a good morning was something I did daily. And this little boy who was in his fifth standard then noticed it everyday. From that day onwards I think I was eager to meet this little one with so much charisma. He had a radiating personality. Though we never talked anything except a good morning for the next 7-8 months, we had developed a kind of rapport. (At least that is what I think). And then I asked him his name. He told some name I had never heard before (and after). I remember that it sounded something like … or I’m not posting it here. And next year I changed school and had different bus timing. And I never met him again. I asked a student of his age from that school once if he knew this guy. He remembers that there was someone who fits my description who studied there, but he changed school and they have no idea where is he now.

I wish he read this some day and send me a mail telling how to spell his name. I seriously hope to find him some day. To be frank I still miss him when I pass that junction.
Any of you have similar experiences?

The Last Leaf

I woke up today morning thinking of this story I’ve been cherishing ever since I read it in my younger classes…. So for all others who remember this and for those who forgot… and ofcourse for those who never read this wonderful story by O.Henry

The Last Leaf

by O. Henry (1862-1910)

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called “places.” These “places” make strange angles and curves. One Street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!

So, to quaint old Greenwich Village the art people soon came prowling, hunting for north windows and eighteenth-century gables and Dutch attics and low rents. Then they imported some pewter mugs and a chafing dish or two from Sixth Avenue, and became a “colony.”

At the top of a squatty, three-story brick Sue and Johnsy had their studio. “Johnsy” was familiar for Joanna. One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met at the table d’hôte of an Eighth Street “Delmonico’s,” and found their tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the joint studio resulted.

That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”

Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman. A mite of a little woman with blood thinned by California zephyrs was hardly fair game for the red-fisted, short-breathed old duffer. But Johnsy he smote; and she lay, scarcely moving, on her painted iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window-panes at the blank side of the next brick house.

One morning the busy doctor invited Sue into the hallway with a shaggy, gray eyebrow.

“She has one chance in – let us say, ten,” he said, as he shook down the mercury in his clinical thermometer. ” And that chance is for her to want to live. This way people have of lining-u on the side of the undertaker makes the entire pharmacopoeia look silly. Your little lady has made up her mind that she’s not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?” Continue reading