I’ve never heard anything quite as vomit-inducing as a skull hitting concrete.
We were stuffing stuffed parantha in our stomachs, yellow goop dripping off our fingers and smiles being exchanged with beetle-nut-gummed locals, when he stumbled in. Blazed.
Business men stepped away as he wove his way through the table, slumping on the counter. The rotund owner dismissed him. He started to stumble through the shop, muttering. I’m not quite sure what happened next, but I saw someone, perhaps a staff member, perhaps simply an aggravated passerby, turn.
There was a shove. There was that crack. And then, after life took a long breath, as if deciding on the fate of this man, the blood began to seep out of his head across the concrete.
It was as if all the tuk-tuks stopped tooting, the fruit vendors stopped yelling, the smoky truck engines chugged to a halt. A few dozen Delhites, and two tourists (us) watched as the body was dragged between the plastic tables and chairs and on to the curb, one hand flopped into the gutter and his floppy jeans exposing his skinny bottom.
Life resumed, as staff threw a bucket of water over the blood on the floor, customers paid up and went off to work, and a new wave of breakfast-eaters stepped over the man and ordered their usual without blinking.
We followed the business people – not that we had anywhere we had to be – stopping at an art gallery we didn’t really want to look at, and proceeding to feign interest in glass elephants.
And when a few hours later, we tuk tukked back past that street corner, we saw the man was still there, reaching into the gutter. Well his body, filled with glue or whatever he had inhaled before he stepped foot in that restaurant, was. His spirit though, had well and truly, gone.