Badal Out of Uniform

Badal was walking through our courtyard,
but he wasn’t delivering the mail;
in fact, he wasn’t even wearing his uniform.
I was looking for you, he said.
Do you have my mail?
No, he said, I have never to deliver mail again.
I was shocked but he looked worse off than I felt.
He sat down on a low wall overlooking the carp pond in the back.
I lost my job, he said, but don’t feel sorry for me. It was my own fault.
Why, I said, what could you possibly do?
I spit on a cat.
You did?
I didn’t like the cat. It was following me. A postman reported me.
We both looked off into the distance, beyond the carp pond.

I said, Well, shall we get some coffee?

I could see no reason to scold an old man for his mistake.


Surprise in the Mail Room

The mail truck was outside so
I went downstairs to get my mail.
Badal was delivering it.
I greeted him, What a wonderful surprise to see you.
I’m a temp at the mail shop, he said.
Post office.
Of course, he said, How are you?
Doing well.
This job is like being a substitute teacher, he said gaily.
He was quickly stuffing the mail into the slots.
“You know,” he said, “ever since I got this job I was very happy.”
“Yes, something funny happens every day, like meeting you!”
He handed me my mail and ran off to his truck,
happy as a lark at 80.

I know that meeting me can sometimes be funny.

Badal at the Coffee Shop

He was just sitting by himself at the table.
He looked to be about 80 years old.
Long face and bright eyes.
After I got my latte I sat down across from him.
He looked a little surprised.
I said, ‘hi’.
He said ‘hello’.
What are you drinking?
We got into a long conversation about life.
What it means to grow old, to have children,
to educate yourself constantly.
Such things happen when you have time to kill.
He said he hung in there just to drink latte.
It’s good latte, he said.
I thought that was reasonable.