The Stranger


It was a typical provincial sight—small shacks with clotheslines, farmlands from all sides, dusty streets, a skinny dog napping in a shade, chickens picking around the backyards, and local old folks grinding trivial tales in a bamboo bench. If not for an old, lacquered poster of a smiling politico, this typical mountain village was in a time warp. He knew he finally reached the place by the time he limply stepped down onto the waiting shade. Gripping hard the relic of his soul entombed into that old locket in his shaky hands, he let a funeral pass by. Some thoughts loped and scampered around his brain. It took him twenty years to muster courage. It felt like a damaged dream, but he had to be here. “Life is a big bluff,” he surmised. Then the humid air blew and touched his forlorn face. It chilled his spine and roused him back. The sun-dappled ground is gone and the night wind started to whisper. Semi-darkness embraced him like an old friend. Then he felt curious eyes staring at his back, watching his steps, sizing up an aged outsider. As the dim light from a solitary lamp post flickered and puffed out, he slowly strode down to a familiar road. From afar, an old hut waited empty for a stranger coming home.


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