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I saw him everyday on my routine walk home from work. He lingered around the corner from Secunderabad wines, the local alcohol shop. He was middle aged but he always clutched a walking stick. It was brown and mostly made of wood. It didn’t look fancy but the gold rim on top added a little class to it. Sometimes, I caught him twirling the stick around his head. He seemed crazy or perhaps just drunk. But who started drinking at 7 pm, I always thought. Some other times he would sit in front of the crowded wine shop and talk to his stick. He looked like he locked eyes with the stick’s imaginary pair of eyes. And through the expression on his face and the movement of his lips, I assumed she was someone special.

But my favourite memory of him was late one evening when he stood cradling the stick in his arms. The stick hovered a little above the ground but I assumed that was on purpose. Tilting the stick slightly behind, he hummed a tune. He had a serene smile plastered on his face as he grooved to the non-existent music. He twirled the stick like it was a woman taking a graceful turn before facing him again. He did that over and over again, lost in the magic of his imagination. I watched for a while before I went on my way.

I always wondered if the proximity of his location had anything to do with the strangeness of his acts. But I never toughened up to approach him. I just watched him from a distance, with amusement. Maybe I liked it believe it wasn’t alcohol and he just had an active imagination.

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