March 24, 2012
It had happened so fast. Even before he could put the pieces together, in his mind, the car had zoomed past him leaving behind a cloud of smoke. He shouted and ran behind the vehicle, as fast as his feet would carry him, in vain. He hadn’t even noted down the digits on the number plate. He broke out in a cold sweat. The road was deserted; only a young lad cycled down the lane, adjacent to the road, with a huge block of ice fastened to his rusty ride. Should he cry for help; should he call the police; should he just fall down on his knees and holler?
“We’ve searched everywhere,” his friend comforted him. “The cops are looking out for her too; be strong.” He stared into space and thought of nothing as his friend patted him on the back in a vain attempt to console him.
Every moment, in the past two years, now, felt like a boulder on his chest. So it was true, that one realised the value of something only when one lost it. He hoped he hadn’t lost her forever. He wringed his fingers in anger and anxiety, as he thought of the time that could have been theirs, had he not awaited hypothetical surety. Surety was not a state of mind, it was a journey that one lived each day, he realised. Nevertheless, as he sat on the dilapidated bench at the local police station, surety was his only state of mind. He knew he wanted her back.
He aimlessly turned the pages of the green book. Black print crawled across stained pages, like bugs across dirty walls. A tear drop slid down his cheek making the ‘Jame’ of ‘James Dryden’ appear darker than the rest of the name. He caught his head in his hands as he squeezed his eyes and contorted his face. He hadn’t cried in a very long time; but a long year of uncertainty could have made anyone weak with pain and anger.
The November, of the calendar on the wall, danced, as the wind, sweeping in through the window, nudged it. The picture of the vintage villa on the calendar brought back memories of the old school home he’d always dreamed of. She’d look perfect on the porch, he thought, with a weak smile. The phone bell mercilessly broke his chain of thought. “Watch the news right now,” said the voice on the end of the line. He clicked the green button on the remote.
“The gang of kidnappers was caught red handed as the police raided down the house in Colaba,” the voice blared out of the idiot-box. He stared at the clippings on the television and, at once, knew what he was looking at. It was them. If they were caught, then where was she?
It was the eleventh of the month and he was walking past the bus stop. Though he couldn’t muster the courage, to walk on the other side of that fateful road, he went there often to ease his guilt. Suddenly he saw something move. He was sure as death, that he had seen the colour red. The moving figure had walked into the campus. He hastily crossed the street and walked into the campus. “Koi aaya andar?” he questioned the watchman. The old man lazily stroked his beard, and nodded in the negative, as he chewed on a betel nut leaf. He felt a draining sensation; hope draining out. As he turned to leave the campus he froze. There tied tight on the lock of the gate was a red stole; and he knew just one like it.
May 4, 2009
So crawl, if you wish; or walk; or run
But when you reach the lag end, I’ll be waiting
And if you don’t see me, you’ll see a red flag
Symbolic of each moment that I lived, with your memories
And oh, it would have been easier to live without you
Than it was, living with, your memories…
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