“It’s your fault.”
“Quit doing that!” whispered Rajneesh, sipping coffee at the counter. The café around him was empty, quiet except for a few youngsters seated around the corner table.
“You should’ve protected him.”
“What could I have done?” he questioned back. His face fell. The voices were now bringing back the memories.
“You seated him in front of you. You! You! YOU!”
“QUIET!” yelled Rajneesh, throwing the Styrofoam cup to the floor and startling the youngsters.
Seeing them get up to leave, he muttered a quick “Sorry!” to them and to Anjali, the girl at the counter, before asking for another cup of coffee. He remembered everything. Picking up his neighbor’s son Jojo and helping him to sit in the front of his Activa, and taking him for a round around the block. He remembered a black Scorpio speeding away after hitting them from behind. He remembered waking up at the hospital to the news that Jojo hadn’t made it. By the time he got out of the hospital, his neighbors had moved. They didn’t want to live in that place. But in doing so, they had deprived Rajneesh of the inkling of a chance to make peace with the ghosts of that day.
“They will never forgive you!”
“QUIET!” yelled Rajneesh again, just as the youngsters opened the glass doors to leave.
“Survivor’s guilt,” whispered Anjali, apologizing as one of them came to pay their bill.
The youngsters nodded, and quieting their own inner voices, got into their black Scorpio and drove away.
(© 20th April 2015)