12 34 56

By Samir Shukla

I have always preferred the influencing power of words over the preciseness of numbers. Two plus two will always equal four, but have two people sit on a park bench, look straight ahead and quickly write down what they observe and you will get two variations. Numbers and their wizardry came easy to me in school years. Today words inform my life, give me comfort, and light the much worn as well as newer paths.

In my thoughts, in June, I stroll on such a path, awaiting the sizzle of July, scouting the spot where I will jump to the other half of my fifth decade on this globe. Every year the month begins with the bombast of fireworks and ends with the soft blinking of fireflies.

I'm sitting on the upper wooden deck behind my house on a breezy June night. A thin moon dimly lights the clouds, nocturnal insects break the quiet with occasional chirping. The night is deepening while smooth bourbon mingles with the ice in a thick glass sitting atop a small table to the right of me. The sips help navigate the jumble of thoughts disturbing the night, or does it jumble the thoughts navigating the night? The bourbon will have the last word.

I left work earlier in the day and drove home and landed in my driveway but couldn't remember any landmarks or turns I made. Don't remember accelerating or braking. I simply made it back home as if I had transported from one location to the next. It's a drive I've done countless times. The only thing I remember is shifting from the NPR radio station to a classic rock station somewhere along the route. Damn if I could remember the drive, but I recount flipping from a chatty segment on immigration and nodding my head to an Aerosmith power ballad. This is among the thoughts this night as I take another sip.

A brick wall about the height of an average basketball player separates my backyard from the street. I sit facing the wall, looking down at it and the dark backyard while the night mellows. A car passes by, its usual noise softened by the bank of trees on the either side of the wall and the wall itself.

The engine noise sounds like a heavy cardboard box dragged across sand, approaching, amplifying and then fading. The single headlight does double duty for the other broken headlight while evoking a low flying UFO hovering just above the street. The bourbon enhances its spectrum.

I tap the nearly empty glass and sniff out the last drop which whispers to me to call it a day. The numbers 11:58pm light up the phone that's been set aside. Two plus two sure equals four, and now two more minutes and the thin moon will cough up another day that the sun will embellish in its own manner in a few hours and backslap it on its way.

The words and thoughts swirling around my brain now fade while the numbers win the night once again, ticktocking along while I quietly open the back door and tip toe through the kitchen and up the stairs into the awaiting midnight slumber.

----------

Samir Shukla is the editor of Saathee magazine. Contact - Samir@saathee.com