It's unfair to say, but I couldn't recognize him. From behind, I felt a pang of uncertainty, who could this man be. And then he turned around and I saw his face. The same face except he looked older by a decade than I had seen him last. I must have grown too, but it's difficult to notice age on oneself. He had lost all his color. He had no hair at all, whatever little he did was grey. He had trimmed it today, that was his excuse. Though I wanted to ask what was so desperately wrong with him, I couldn't. There is nothing that is ever cardinally wrong. Life ruins us all in general, in bits, in its own slow paced process. The loss of friendship, fading of love, tarnishing of belief, being few of the numerous causes. Therefore I didn't ask. No questions were exchanged.
He said he'd come by, our place. He should better, I stressed. His wife was fine and the two sunshine daughters were growing up alrite, he said. I asked if the older one was resembling their mother more by the year, he stayed shut. I didn't ask about the younger one then. It had been long I had forgotten their names, but their childlike faces stayed framed in my eyes. The younger one, who looked like her father was more my favorite, though I never had the chance to say it. Whenever he took me to see a doctor when I fell sick, or picked me up from the train station, saw me off for holidays. Or the once or twice he took me out for dinner with his resentful wife.
A few years from now, he would be more open about the falling apart of his marriage. The people in his life who may have demanded an explanation would be long gone. We may meet after another lost decade of his life, on his face.
Then decades afterward, real decades i.e. he would come visit his daughter for winter in the hills, the younger one. Flip through old albums, pictures of his children in their school uniforms, purple water-bottles hanging from their necks. Pictures from the few vacations they had cared to take. Right then, he would close his eyes and regain his lost flamboyance.