( there might be some mistakes in this as this was the very first draft)
If you wish to meet him, he can be found with ease for he is always in the same place. There is nothing special about him, really. He’s too normal- you wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a crowd- and that’s exactly what strikes me the most about him. I don’t know anything about him, not even his name except that he’s the owner and shopkeeper of a tiny stationery shop near my house. No matter what day of the week it is, a festivity or not, you will find him sitting in that very chair, thick-framed big glasses shoved up his nose and hair, though absent on top of his head, thinning as time passes, threatening to free his scalp of the grey. He sits on a chair with a wooden frame weaved with strong plastic ropes of a kind. He manages the shop himself and never has it once happened that I see the shutter pulled down.
Now I’m not one for blurting out whatever comes to my mind to practical strangers so I’ve never asked him a single question that didn’t relate to stationary. In my mind, he’s so much more than a stranger.
He is an honest man and I value that immensely. If I ever purchase an item, I get the exact change back and sometimes he gives more than he has to. That isn’t because he failed to add or subtract properly, but because he knows that it makes no real difference. He understands that a piece of paper values no less than another piece. Fundamentally, it’s just paper.
As I have mentioned before, I know nothing about him. Nothing at all. But- thanks to my inquisitiveness and wild imagination- I know all about him. In my mind, I know about his hardships and his gratifications. I know his childhood stories and the independence struggle through his eyes.
I know everything about a stranger. I’ve never talked to him but his life is fascinating. I contradict myself sometimes, you see.
I suppose he used to have a job, a government posting perhaps. Married to an elegant lady with whom he shared an unexplainable bond. He is the father of a beautiful daughter with a free spirit. He believed in existentialism and encouraged his daughter to do the same. I suspect he was a teenager during the independence struggle. He witnessed, among many others, the tragedies that happened on the piece of land that is India. I imagine his father to be a strict one and respected by the entire village. His mother, I believe, suffered from a disease, which left her weak. He was the eldest of three brothers and naturally, he took care of his siblings since their mother couldn’t. I think that something traumatizing happened early in his life but I don’t know what it could be.
I think that he rarely talks to his wife and their daughter barely has time to visit them. She is busy in her own life, trying to make it big as a chef. She talks to her mother every once in a while when she calls her up but otherwise, there is little contact between them.
Just knowing nothing about him has made me know him completely. I wonder what his favorite food is. I wonder what makes him happy and I wonder what memories sadden him. I wonder what he does when he is not at his shop. I wonder where his mind drifts off to when he is alone with his thoughts.