Swan Song

Today I want to tell a story. It is about a person who owned a small hotel in my town. I did not know him personally. And he did not know me either. We existed like those people in a class who never spoke with each other, but still recognize one another. 

This guy, let’s call him the owner, was middle aged – around 50, I guess. His hotel, including the kitchen, could fit in a badminton court, with still some room to spare. The menu consisted of not more than ten items, and staff not more than 4 including the owner and the guy who cooks. With the beautiful tiled roof, limited interior lighting and the firewood smoke coming from the kitchen, one can say it is a unique experience to eat here. But the people who come here just care about getting some good food for cheap price. And that is exactly what they get here. The food is just plain delicious. I have had the best Goli baje or the Mangalore Bajji (a local snack) in this hotel. Prices are extremely low. Hence this is mostly famous among the construction workers who work nearby and the locals who fancy a cup of tea in the evening. 

I don’t know if the owner made any profit or even got back what he has invested. But I have always remembered the hotel in the same state, with no change whatsoever. May be the owner never tried to increase his revenue. May be he had other sources of income. I don’t know. The hotel was situated just beside a busy city road. But then a new road was constructed little further away. And as expected, less people travelled on the old road. The old road was not maintained. The road was on the verge of extinction. So was the hotel.

But then something happened. A small software company came up nearby. People who worked there had to go along the old road. There was no other way. The young engineers needed some tasty snacks at cheap prices. Naturally they tried out this hotel. They were blown away with the delicious food and unbelievable prices. And in this age of social networking, the news spread fast. People started pouring in to see this small wonder of a place. The hotel was a hit. It was making business like never before. The story of the hotel and the owner was featured in local news papers and TV channels. Finally there was something to cheer about. The future looked bright.

The owner decided to renovate the hotel. The hotel was demolished to build newly. But that very night the owner died of a massive heart attack.

The people who worked there found new jobs. I don’t know what happened to the owner’s family. But now the hotel lies in ruins. People who were regular visitors were obviously hurt. But they have found some other place to eat. It is a cruel joke. Now I don’t know what to expect from life. Everything is uncertain, volatile. Some days you discover new heights. The next moment you are down, fighting for survival. No traces left. And the scariest thing is eventually you are forgotten. Everybody moves on. You had your brief little stint here. You have to hold on to that.



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