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I am exhausted. Every inch of me is gripped with exhaustion. My bones feel weak. My mind feels vague and lost. Words barely form sentences even as my voice escapes from between my lips. I feel drained. I feel engulfed and consumed by an inexplicable agony. Sleep doesn’t rejuvenate my energy. I sleep well. I eat better. Everything else evades me. I watch the fan spin slowly. It lowers itself bit by bit and approaches me. Or the walls close in on me. They make a scraping sound as they come near. Perhaps a slow death awaits. Perhaps it is a joke by my sub-conscious on my mind and body. Perhaps it is nothing. Maybe the exhaustion has gotten to me. I just need to sleep for a week and forget the rest.

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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.