The wicked old man lived in the seedy veranda that overlooked the alley. He was haggard and his eyes were opaque green. He watched us play cricket in the somnolent afternoons, like a gargoyle, sipping from his lukewarm ceramic cup. He never moved. And busy we, with our late cuts and off breaks..

As the afternoons made way for sleepier evenings, we packed up and went back to our respective home works. He did not move, the wicked old man. His green eyes shone like fireflies under decrepit lampposts. No one knows when we left his cosy armchair, or if he ever did. No one knows if those green eyes ever blinked.

He saw the colourful schoolbags with natty water bottles go to school. He didn’t smile at them, he didn’t wave them goodbye. He sat there on his veranda, with a muffler around his neck. And those opaque green eyes.

Days passed like water from the public tap. Beginning and ends tied up in fulsome bows. Teacups measured his life out in saucerful of nondescript etude. He played on his invisible flute, his overture to a sunny morn that never came.

And then one evening the fireflies blinked. The veranda was empty the next dawn. But no one knew…