HE looks at his watch and smiles. 7:30. Another 30 minutes and she will be there. He picks out her favourite dailies from the piles of newspapers and magazines and puts them aside for her. He hates it when her face crumples with disappointment if the daily she wants is already sold out.

Every Sunday morning she is there at sharp 8. He knows because she is the only woman who comes to his roadside newspaper stand to pick up the Sunday edition of newspapers. Every single Sunday, without fail. The other customers are all men who bark out the name of the newspaper they want, grab it out of his half-extended hand, then throw a currency note in his direction and wait impatiently for him to return the change.

She walks purposefully but there is a soothing elegance in her gait and a gentle peacefulness in her smooth face. She never actually smiles, but a tiny sliver of happiness slips across her lips anyway as she glances lovingly at the heaps of printed pages. Her eyes light up as she gathers up the newspapers, thanks him as she tenders exact change and makes her way back as calmly as she had arrived. Not infrequently, she joins the men standing on the pavement, engrossed in the newspaper they cannot wait to read till they get home, completely oblivious to the incongruous picture she makes.

He smiles at the thought of how she livens up the place by just being there, as he glances at his watch again. Another 15 minutes to go. The early morning rush of regulars has slowed down to a trickle. The street is almost empty; apart from a few who have to get chores done urgently, it’s too early for people to venture outdoors on this hot and lazy Sunday.

Almost 8:00; he won’t have to wait much longer now. He rearranges the magazines and newspapers needlessly one more time. No customer at his stand right now, he is happy to note. Distracted, he picks up the newspaper lying before him. He turns the pages – the usual daily menu of corruption in high places, rising prices, an ongoing court case…it leaves a stale taste. He turns the pages half-heartedly and is startled to a stop at the local news page.

Hey, what’s this? Isn’t it a picture of his newspaper stand?

He peers at the photograph. Yes, it was taken yesterday evening long after he had wrapped up business for the day. Then, he turns to the story.

Truck mows done pedestrian

There was an accident yesterday at this place – a lorry driver in the wrong lane had knocked down and killed a pedestrian taking the zebra crossing. He turns his gaze towards the picture of the truck and the victim.

Calm as ever, her face nods at him from the page.