These days I'm constantly reminded of a short story I read as a young man. It was titled The Umbrella Man. I don't remember the author. There are only two characters in the story: a man and the Umbrella Man (UM).
The man is travelling home after work by bus. Suddenly he feels a knock on the back of his head. He turns back to see a nondescript middle-aged guy sitting in the seat behind him holding an umbrella. Our man thinks that the knock was accidental.
But the knock is repeated. Man turns back and bestows an annoyed look upon UM. That doesn't work, however. The knock is repeated again. And again. Man gets up and gives a punch on the nose of UM. Even that doesn't deter UM from gifting the knocks at regular intervals.
Man is obviously exasperated. He gets down when the bus reaches near the police station. He has made up his mind to file a case against this eerie intruder in his life. UM gets down and follows the Man, awarding the umbrella-knocks at regular intervals. Just before entering the gate of the police station, Man looks at UM. The latter's nose is bleeding profusely because of the punch it had received.
"The police is more likely to arrest me for that punch," Man thinks. Nobody in written history has ever been arrested for knocking a guy's head with an umbrella. He turns back and goes home. With the umbrella landing on his head at regular intervals.
He closes the door as soon as he enters his house in order to prevent UM from following him but is not successful. UM is strong. (Did he have a 56 inch chest? I wonder.)
UM is there with Man wherever he goes, whatever he does. Awarding the umbrella-knocks with unfailing frequency. UM is there in the kitchen when Man is cooking. He's there as an abiding companion even in the washroom. He's everywhere. Even in bed. With the knocks.
Days pass into weeks and months. Man has no worries now. He has got used to the umbrella-knocks. His only concern now is whether UM will leave him and thus deprive him of the knocks.
I would like to end this reminiscence with the following jab from a friend's timeline on Facebook.