A Man in a Little Town by Aditya Gautam

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August 4, 2018
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August 6, 2018

A Man in a Little Town

In an unnamed town by a dusty highway, there once lived a man who loved watching the clouds; he said he enjoyed searching for silver linings everywhere,
and to catch the hope that he found, wherever he went, he went with a typewriter.

His little town loved him: he was their one curiosity.

He was, they said, a hope-hunter, a dream-catcher, a fabulous fable weaver, their very own benevolent Pied Piper.

And the man loved his craft: he wrote in cafés and in gambling dens, in churches and in pig pens, in whorehouses and penthouses, by the road in a dirty ditch and a recently mowed football pitch. Legend said that he wrote straight for hours three, once, atop an apple tree.

He gave away the pages he wrote for free; the town’s children dreamed through his lullabies, love blossomed at his sonnets and memory rose to matter with his obituaries.

His little town loved him: he was their one curiosity.

But tales never go without tragedy; there is to the fate of a lover and the fate of a poet, no real remedy.

It was August when there came a week of sunshine bright and white: the sky became a flawless blue, and the clouds bid adieu.

The man grew restless; he muttered about lost hope, and something about a pony dressed as the Pope. He did not write, he did not sing, desolation wrapped its ugly head around him.

The townspeople saw, first, with pitiful smiles, and then with glances that did not meet his eyes, with looks that fell hither, thither, and nowhere.

Seven days hence passed, and on the eighth day he told a child who played beside, that he must take a walk. The man left to search for his hopes and clouds and cloudy hopes on a road that he must have thought was Jack’s beanstalk.

He walked with his neck held high—too high—his sight focused on the sky.

The heavens shone like the gentle sea and the man walked, his eyes glued on his clouds beloved.

Ah, the tragedy.

A rock, a tumble, a broken neck. And a poet, dead.

The little town shook its collective head; ‘This is what happens to impractical people’, it said.

He was, the people proclaimed, as mad as a hatter, a practical joker, a liar, a loner, a bad nut and a worse penny, a good-for-nothing if there ever was any.

In an unmarked grave the man was buried, his typewriter was thrown in an abandoned field; soon that keeper of hopes was hidden by Time under mud and weed.

The little town’s people smirked; the man had been their only curiosity, and now they had none.

‘We always said his ways were of folly’, said everyone to everyone.

The man sat and watched his little town, now from up above his clouds and sighed a heavy sigh, as if for precious things lost,
and then began to write again the oldest tale: that of fire losing to frost:

In an unnamed town by the highway where once had lived a man, who loved watching the clouds.


Aditya Gautam writes, dreams, reads and dream-writes. Not essentially in that order, though. He is 23 years old and is pursuing post graduate diploma in English Journalism. He finances his writing through his fast-dwindling savings (centuries ago, he used to be a software developer), by begging his family for pennies, and sometimes by staring at his wallet unblinkingly for a few hours straight. At the moment, he is working on his first novel and being a egoist of the highest order he hopes to strike at the motor of his society with that novel, and thus of becoming a real-life John Galt.

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