Das started to cry. He was pushing out air with a lot of force. His mouth was dry and eyes wet. The tears on his left cheek were racing at 1.32x the speed of tears on his right cheek. I was always curious how that could be possible. How can one eye cry louder than the other? He sounded and looked ugly. There was nothing pleasant about Das actually. He took bath 2 times a week at the river ghat. You had to feel lucky to meet him on a bathing day if at all you needed to meet this worthless idiot. Das sipped chai wiping his tears with a soiled napkin. He stared at a fan hanging 20 feet high above his staring eyes. He was looking for answers. The fan was his best bet. He had wanted to embrace and hang by it every single day of his life. He was a coward. Never attempted even once. A nun named him Christopher after she found him lying on the edge of a gutter on Christmas Eve, 46 years ago. Who, why, when and how did he acquire Das? When his name was Christopher, so much better sounding, why did people call him Das? Why was he left to live? Why wasn’t he killed and thrown in the gutter? It’s not that he really wanted answers. But it was a useful purpose to live an otherwise useless life. He was a lousy carpenter who worked with a theatre group. It was so easy to hate him. He got nothing right in his life, starting from his birth onwards. He spoke less as a result of which sometimes you could confuse him for a scientist deep in his research and thoughts. Thankfully he spoke less. The moment he opened his mouth, all you could see was rotting yellowish grey teeth. His words didn’t matter. He had never brushed! The nuns had kicked him out when he was 5. They were fed up with his awful antics. He would fart every single night when everyone was asleep in the dorm! The already stinky dorm would smell like death. I mean is that cultured? “Good riddance”, exclaimed the chief nun with a sigh when he didn’t come back that winter night. They struck his name from the evening roll. Christopher did not exist anymore. He hadn’t existed for his parents. In 46 years, he hadn’t existed for anybody. Except for this old coffee shop where he was gifted a free chai whenever he came by. He had no clue why he was allowed in. He felt at home here. The fan felt like his mother brushing her hands across his greying hair like a cool evening breeze. He wanted to embrace her but found her out of his reach. He was scared to get close to her. He associated her with death. She had left him to die many years ago. Yet he was alive every single day. He scratched his belly through his torn kurta with his long dirty nails soaked in sawdust when he heard a voice, “Das”. He loathed that voice. No not the voice, he loathed the sound of it. It hurt like hell. He would become furious and start shouting expletives at anyone who called him Das. He hated his identity. “Oye pagal” was better. But Das? He knew it was time to step away and clear the table for a paying customer. He walked out of his home and on to the noisy street around the college. He walked away. Like a monk with a powerful purpose and a meaningless life. He walked away. Without causing any trouble to anyone who missed getting hit by his randomness.