He played that special tune on the saxophone every time she walked in.

The first time he had seen her, she had appeared like a vision in red from the smoke and alcohol fumes of the club at midnight. He was almost ready to dismiss her as another cliche of the night with no stars. Somebody who only came alive with airs not of her own, but put on so that they could momentarily please others. But he had never been more wrong in his life.

Rumors and stories started floating around about her. Most of them took him by surprise. Almost like a deserving jolt to his smugly smiling ego. She was not the simpering beauty who answered to the beck and call of chauvinistic urges. Rather many a time, she revolted with her placid, implacable demeanor by giving no response or reaction in return. Many an advance were not only spurned, but the man in question would not even dare look at her, if he ever came back to the club. The rare words spoken by her to those men had the power to make them sober, even if they were pissed drunk before that.

He was the only familiar face around who had not approached her yet. He just played that tune on the saxophone whenever she came and left after an hour. Not because he feared the bitter cold wrath of her words, but because, he genuinely felt no need to explore the challenge that she posed.

Then one night when he had begun to walk down the back alley towards home, he heard his name being called out. He turned to see who it was. A hesitant shadow stepped out from the dark and stood under the bleak dim of the yellow lamplight. It was her. She looked at him for a long time. He too chose not to say anything, but instead, waited.

Without saying a word to him, she handed him two envelopes. And then did two very uncharacteristic things. First, she hugged him. And then when she was walking away, smiled at him. The memory of that smile stayed with him, till his very own end.

Strangely enough, he was in no hurry to open the envelopes to see what they contained. Once he was in bed, he opened one. It was a beautiful, calligraphic handwritten letter to him. A letter which he kept re-reading into the wee hours of the morning. The second was another letter, which entrusted him with a responsibility that he had always craved for.

At the break of dawn, he shut the door to his home, and walked towards the dockyard. There he saw a boy sitting on a trunk with a forlorn look on his face. The boy too held an envelope. The envelope contained money, another letter and two tickets. With this, the man and the boy went aboard the ship.

At night, the man played that tune he had always played for her on his saxophone, for the boy.


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