Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cul-de-sac


Chapter 13 from Team: Wordoholics.
Click here to read the 12th Chapter in Remya's Blog!
 
In the evening Jennifer sat with her laptop and poured little scotch onto a paunchy crystal glass... she loves it single malt. Since she joined BBC, she perceived a gradual decline in her creative-libido as a photographer. No more does she incline for street photographies, nor schedule her alarm for golden hours. Almost hundred gigabytes of unprocessed image file have been hibernating in her portable drive since she relocated to Mumbai. A sense of dormant guilt was perturbing the passionate photographer in her- “Darling are you just a corporate slave?” No way, she decided. She couldn't wait for the coming sunday to organize her photo archives.

With every sip of the golden liquid, she was getting more attached to those photos on the display. Instead of categorizing Jenny was trying to smell the air, water and dust in them. There was a giant statue of Monkey God looming over a speedy city train passing by its waist level, on the LCD where she paused.

Whenever you get intoxicated with alcohol, your mind tends to avenge you by playing your drunken master with collage of memories, till you get exhausted and knocked out by default!


Jennifer Joseph came out slowly of the Karolbagh metro station as if keeping a count of her own steps and rang somebody, “Hey, where're you? I see you nowhere around...”
It is no more safe there. Take the lane on your left and walk till you touch the main road. Keep walking straight and you'll find a mammoth Hanuman statue on the other side of the road. Don't cross the road. Remain within ten meters of the rusted Madrasa gate. And the most important thing, don't even think of asking road direction from anyone...” the call was disconnected abruptly.


A normal person would sense tremors and a fast beating heart while involving in such ventures. But Jenny had been walking on this sniffing soles since last two years. She is used to attending unknown calls, rootless people and unanswered mysteries. It's the fourth time the stranger has changed his location since 9'o clock morning, making her hop from one metro carriage to another. She felt a burning pain in her tummy and remembered of her missed breakfast. She stopped by the momo corner on the left and lit a cigarette.

While her order was getting ready, Jenny changed the camera lens. A Nepali waiter in the empty restaurant was ogling at the weird lady smoker in a capri. Even when you think she hasn't noticed you, be sure she knows it when you're squandering your lecherous look on her painted belly button or her suffocated breasts.

Without taking her eyes off the camera bag Jenny signalled a glass of water to the waiter. In less than fifteen seconds he served her momo too. She was done with her gears, so she lifted her gaze, “Was there something you wanted to share...?”
A person with mongoloid face has the inborn advantage of hiding his deepest emotions behind those flat facial folds, like- fear, hatred and longing. “Memsaab... you got a beautiful tatoo” was all he said in reply but she knew it more than anybody else that he wasn't imbibing the multicolored unicorn over her tanned right arm.

The bill was already flapping its tail over the table. Jenny left the exact amount and made her way out of the place. How weird... the dodgy waiter followed her out of the momo shop! She turned around with a sharp twist on her right heel and screamed “No tip to badass, just get lost...”
Unprepared for swearing from a lady the flat faced guy fumbled, “Ah apologies... you left your bill there...”, handed over a small piece of paper and vanished to nowhere in a jiffy.
She knew it now it was not the momo bill. The crumpled tissue paper had ten digits on it. She dialed the number . “Had to change the number madam ji. You're wasting too much time in those lanes. I'll wait for another five minutes at most...” like before it ended in the middle. Jennifer acquired the eerie sense of time running out with the virtual five minutes' sand clock the stranger had set. She was almost running.

In a couple of minutes she was on main road. Even the honking CNG traffic couldn't slow her pace till she spotted a gigantic statue of the Monkey God on the other side of the road. The flyover at its waste height bore the tracks of metro rail. There happened to be a busy crossroad. How one is supposed to spot a mellowed entrance in such a bustling location of Delhi, she wondered!
She tried to call back to the new number but it was switched off... so was the old number. Was someone harassing her? But why would anyone be? She doesn't have any enemy in this city, not even in Cochin though. Or, did she fail to beat his stopwatch?
Jennifer has been searching for her lost oasis... but mirages seem to be her only loyal friends! When you lose your love forever, you shatter into pieces... and when you don't know it yet if you've lost your love forever, you turn into a mad dog. It was the first time she had heard something positive and now the source was nowhere to be traced!

Inspite of those hundred conflicting thoughts she bought some time for her hope. Jenny found a spot where she won't draw undue attention of busy pedestrians. It was not the perfect time for photography. Sun was exactly overhead. Till something she had to do to hang on. Coaches of metro rail passed by the colossal Hanuman statue every five minutes... not many photo frames can capture the essence of two coexisting India, one known for its vedic spirituality and the other competing with NASA for satellites... a perfect site for photographers indeed!
Ignoring the overexposure, she had taken more than hundred shots when someone paused her from behind, “Excuse me ma’am...”. It was a porcupine haired high school boy in funky outfits. The imported headphone resting on his shoulders didn't quite blend with those pair of purple canvas shoes. “Oh... so it's you”, she sighed after a quick primary survey.
Yo... here's your message”, he handed over a folded slip.
No paper business. I give you money and you tell me all you know of him... let's sit with drinks...”, Jenny objected.
I'm clean lady you see, you talk to your guy. I'm not in this...”
She stopped him in the middle, “Who's that guy?... then who the hell are you?”
The chap pointed on the other side of the road as if showing someone, “That lanky guy in green tee... he gave this paper to hand over to you... that's all I know”

There was nobody... yes, as expected! Jenny offered him some money, “ok, take these and please tell me anything more you know... please...”
Gosh... you seem to be in some real shit! But look, I got few bucks to deliver this message which I did... I know nothing more... I'm better without your money. Good bye.”
Jennifer detained him by his wrist. With a jerk he got rid of her, showed her a middle finger and ran into the crowd. She shouted in vain with an utter hopelessness that her delusive hope could no longer suppress, “Show it to your Amma, douchebag...”

The small paper turned out to be an used unreserved rail ticket for Delhi to Mumbai. The backside contained a word in all capital letters- “INSIGNIA”
Starting from central library to countless hours with google, nothing could give him any information with which she could try to connect those scattered dots of her greatest puzzle. Was there no way she could ever reach Darius?


After many months when she took the job in Mumbai, on a lucky day she opened the search page and typed “Insignia”. In some nanoseconds there was a link for her in the search page. A blog opened up, titled “Cyrious Talks & Some Cyrious Affairs”.

The latest journal in that blog ended with, “... tighten up your seat belts and stay tuned as I'll be back very soon with yummier cookies from the kitchen of Insignia.” On first read the line made her frustrated all over again, like she was on that day at Karolbagh. On searching again in internet, there was no trace of any cookie brand or eatery with that name. So, was this blogger hinting at something more profound? It was time to check the blogger's profile page.

Everyone a bloody narcissist these days, she thought while scrolling down dozen of selfie thumbnails of the blogger. From the profile she she came to know the blogger's name- Cyrus Daruwala, a “going to be” lawyer from Delhi. She clicked open the photo with his closeup face. He was too fair for a man. Even the retro styled big spectacle couldn't hide those swollen paddings under his eyes, all courtesy to daily habit and justifying the surname. The island of beard under his lower lip very much supported the inference “the confused dude wants to appear cool”. But what was that crescent scar peeping out from his rim covered left eyebrow! Jennifer involuntarily moved close to her laptop screen till her parrot nose touched it...

There's a virtuous facet of whisky too. It helps you to explore your reminiscence and as the effect wanes off you're safely dropped at your old place, unlike unfaithful buddies. She desperately needed a cigarette and make a call to Cyrus. 


Shekhar was proofreading a chapter when Tara knocked his study door.
It's open honey, just give it a push”, he replied without turning his head from the desktop screen.
Baby why have you shut all your windows... don't I remind you always how badly your mind needs some fresh air?” she complained while sliding open his panes one after another. Shekhar never replies to such allegations.
Am I not telling you something Mr. Dutta?”
Shekhar turned towards her now, “Ah what...? Anything important?”
Shall we be talking only when there's an emergency.... like our house on fire...?”

It didn't take much time for the couple's conversation to take nasty turn.
You're a nothing but a jerk, who doesn't have time for his spouse... for his only daughter...” before Tara could complete her charge Shekhar stood up from his chair. This was not the Shekhar everybody knows him by. Jesus and Judas dwells on the same man, we all know. But when the Judas reveals his face we wish they were not in the same body. If not like a lion, surely like a panther Shekhar roared in reply, “I sealed off my fucking life inside a dead volcano... all I own today is a half wife, half daughter and bloody readers who know nothing but finding cliché phrases from Shekhar Dutta's books.”
So, who compelled you for this life? Me? Roohie?”, Tara interrogated him in mere disbelief.
Who is Roohie... who's the damn Roohie here?” Shekhar's voice was breaking.
Goddammit she's our daughter Shekhar...”, Tara leaned out of the open window to hide her tears in the dark. She doesn't like to show her vulnerable sides to anyone, not even Shekhar.

This is the millionth time I'm telling you Ms. Mukherjee, I don't think the sweet term daughter goes pretty well on a surrogate baby. I reject to be fake...”, Sekhar picked the car key from the fruit basket and slammed the door leaving Tara alone in the room.
Dark past always finds opportunity in dark present. Those black days of Tara's timeline torments her now and then like breeze does to a windchime. After her repeated miscarriage, surrogacy was their last resort as Shekhar's mother was totally against adoption. Shekhar didn't have a say then. Tara proposed... and the big task was undertaken.

Recently she gets smell of spirit many a times from Shekhar's garments. She is quite sure about his daily drinking. She finds ample evidence of his pestiferous passions too, props abandoned sometimes under the car seat, sometimes lying inside his unlocked drawer. In a couple's life, the scary moment is not really when they throw shoes on each other... but you know it's “out of hand” when they ignore each other's weirdest behaviors. Had it been any other woman, she would have chosen the later option by now, but Tara was a tough woman... she was insanely optimist.


In the heat of argument Shekhar and Tara got fully oblivious of Roohie's presence in the adjacent room. She was lost in her origami practice lessons. But she was no deaf... although an introvert, she was mature enough for her age. Roohie torn apart her newly crafted flowers into innumerous pieces of paper and released them to be engulfed by the darkness outside her window from the seventeenth floor. She locked her door from inside and opened the closet. With her pencil crayons she filled up a portion of that monster neatly sketched on the inner side of her cupboard door.

Continued in Shruti's blog... Do checkout :)




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10 comments:

  1. What a read. So when is your novel coming on stands?

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    1. Thanks captain... it'll be out by diwali 2012 I suppose ;-)

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  2. Wow!!! This IS something!! Loved it too!! ;)

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    1. Thanks kid... why I feel you copied the 'wow' from Parul's comment above? :-P

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  3. need the signed copy of ur first book....:D

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    1. Yay Remya... sent it last week... may be it got drowned in sea... these are issues with internation shipping :-/

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  4. I 'm jealous !!! :-) And thank you for being so accomodating ;-)........ and also thank you for preserving the organs !!!

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