"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




It was the oldest standing house in our neighborhood. Wind and rain had slapped its facade for ages. Vines had scrambled on its yellow walls every season and fallen off in the next, only to leave muddy trails which looked like splattered grey mass from our brains. Its small courtyard lay conquered in crabgrass and parthenium. Its rusted iron gate had long retired from securing the house. With paint falling off in flakes and bricks dislodged, the outer compound wall resembled the toothless smile of an old woman. Beside the front door hung the mark of its owner, the nameplate which boasted of Greek Renaissance design in its days and barely a piece of scrap today. The name was all but erased, only the first letters - a 'T' and a 'M' - remained. The full name, like our ephemeral lives, was long forgotten. People who noticed the new ways of the old man used to call him - 'Temporary Man'!

For me - Temporary Man lived from time immemorial, or atleast he predated the others I knew. His past wasn't known and it looked like he didn't care much about it either. He always cared about the present, 'live the moment' as he would put it, so much so that even his future didn't bother him at all. His attitude was totally focussed only on surviving the current moment. 'Take care of the minutes and hours will take care of themselves' went a great saying. Temporary Man, probably, never knew the concept of hours. His life was lost in the ticking of minutes itself.

Temporary Man never carved a distinct identity for himself. He was like a slick of oil floating on water. Whatever the society respected and adored, he made that his ambition. When people around him changed their view, his opinions would change too. He consciously developed an awareness to appreciate what people liked to be acknowledged and also to exhibit what people seemed to notice. He would focus more on doing tasks that got him people's attention. Success, for him, was always measured against the yardstick of people's expectations. Truth, always meant that fact which had majority support. It was his way of life to do 'cool' things and all other activities were mere chaff.

Being organized was a burden. His porch was never broomed regularly, clothes were washed only after the dirty linen piled up, books taken out of the shelf were never returned back to its place. When things got out of hand, he would hire a maid for a day and get it all cleaned up. When his bike rattled with a loose silencer, he wrapped a used towel to muffle the sound. The drain leaked outside his gate but why take it seriously when he could just hop, skip and jump over it. The chikoo tree in his courtyard fell one windy night, and he kicked it aside the next morning. It lay by the gate side for years until termites powdered it out. He would buy fashionable gadgets and within months it would be laid to rest as his friends had started talking about newer models. He mended broken windows, oiled his creaking door and replaced burnt bulbs but he never saw the bigger picture. His house had started falling to ruin and he didn't even notice it. Long term solutions were unknown to him. Temporary Man always had temporary fixes and yet he was proud because he had so many of them..

Mr.BB had shared a rapport with Temporary Man during their younger days. Everytime Mr.BB walked by the TM house, he would pause at the gate. Maybe he wanted to nod at Mr.Temporary Man and recall olden days. Little did he know that in this world, friendships can also be temporary and memories of the past are as easily forgotten as temporary fashion trends of the present!
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