August 18th, 2011
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The boxman’s death

Short story/ Shiyas Rahima
short story by shiyas

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Tenzin New

Read

Hey jus now i

passed thru tat

road wher box

man stays, they

r putting him in

coffin n clearing

his box… He s

gone.. Pray 4

one minute..

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It was fifteen years ago, he, after being seriously ill, discharged from the Municipal hospital, got himself into a 6×4 wooden box. Ever since, he is known as the box man. How did the box appear near the lady’s finger plant? No one knows. One morning he was there. Once in every month he gets out of the box and goes to Saidapet to buy Ganja wholesale.  He would pack it in small polythene covers and sell it retail. Students, auto drivers, Bengalese, Nepalese, Tibetans and all who were in dire need of some weed would visit him. It’s not that they all depended on him. His stuff was third class. Policemen in mufti occasionally visited him, either to beat him black and blue or to extract money from him. These days his ill health makes him stay in the box.

Reply

Oh thats sad..

may b v wer da

last ones 2 talk

2 him.

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“I don’t think this will be enough for the night, Tasmac will be closed by now, we wont get liquor anywhere”. Ginu said.

Tenzin stood up, finished her drink and announced, “Let’s go to the Boxman and get some weed.

We stepped out of the house. Outside the rain has just stopped pouring and the black roads gleamed under the neon street lights like gold. Soon we reached near the box and Ginu knocked twice without bothering about the wet dirt smearing upon his knuckles. A dirty plastic sheet was hung from the small entrance. We could feel a human body moving inside and slowly the plastic came down. There he was: the boxman. My first reaction was to look away but I didn’t. I’m here to buy the stuff and move ahead.  So weak a man, it was as if his flesh was going inwards; his cheeks were so gone that one could put five 5 rupee coins inside each. His stomach too grown inward, revealing his bones. His eyes however protruded outside. His other half of the body was covered with a grayish quilt. His feet grew out of it housing several house flies. It was not the first time he had been woken up at night so there was no sign of ‘unwelcome’ in his eyes.

“Annai, can we have some ganja?” Ginu asked. A slow ‘no’ was the answer. The next ten minutes of pleading made us understand that he doesn’t really have the stuff but we continued talking. We had to, since ending the conversation abruptly would be disrespectful to the weak old man.

In his heydays, he was an influential man. He had friends in politics and police. He ran a gang which brought ganja from West Bengal, Andhra, Theni and Idukki and sold to local agents in Chennai. But when his business and health plummeted, everyone disappeared. He never married and until her death a few years ago, his mother took care of him. As he was narrating his story, a yellow butterfly fluttered inside the box as if looking for something. It gently flew out of the box and my eyes fell on his eyes which told me that he was rather content speaking to us. In between he took deep breaths through his mouth.

Rain stopped us from further talk as it came down heavily. We ran to the opposite stationary shop and watched the box getting wet; water running down through its corners, most of it going inside and would definitely be making the boxman even more uncomfortable.

We didn’t know why Ginu ran to the box all of a sudden with something in his hands. Without saying anything to the boxman, he lifted up the plastic curtain, kept it inside without a word and ran back to us. We asked him what was that and he said, “Some buns and bananas for the boxman” Rain subdued but we didn’t go near the box. We started walking back to the apartment. I looked back and saw the box shrinking and the lady’s finger tree growing massive.

Forward

The boxman is dead.

Ginu

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Illustration: Majini Tiruvangoor

…………………………………

Shiyas Rahima: The Times of India  award winning  short story writer, writes poems, short stories and plays.  He has to his credit a collection of poems – ‘The Omar Khayyam Bar’



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