Click here to read the 4th Chapter in Bienu's blog!
Tara did not return to Shekhar till time took its stroll. It's the sky that holds the lonely sun, playful clouds, twinkling stars and at the same time drops of rain, enough to flood the mankind. You sing a song at his praise but the one living there would curse at your lyrics... for he has seen the dark side of the moon!
Two parallel beams of intense halogen dismantled the breeding tie between monsoon driven dog couple. Black water in the pothole born of the day long mizzle lost its stillness by two tyrant pieces of attention-shy rubber.
Hardly anyone enters those shadowy alleys bifurcating from South Bay Cemetary near Mahim creek, and that too not certainly on a bottom wide hatchback. There is a washerman colony, may be fifteen minutes' walk away from the first gate of the cemetary. But as the evening engulfs Mumbai, kids of washerman who loiter around in those bylanes, sometimes playing gully cricket, too abandon the place. It is not the fright of uncanny spirits reigning the night air but the abundance of venomous snakes in the region.
Children from Indian low socioeconomic strata get to realize by five years of age that ghost is totally an illusive concept and by the time they attain teenage they already know how elusive our health infrastructure is. Half of the solar streetlights would glow dimly in normal days but they take a group-leave almost everyday in rainy season.
Switching off the air-conditioner, the lean man opened the driver's door. He took a deep breath as if to invite random souls hovering over the cemetary sky. He does so always, before lighting a cigarette, and also he moistens his lips with a sip of water. Since university days when he used to sing he developed this notion that it would preserve the redness of those vivid lips despite habitual smoking.
Something crossed Shekhar Dutta's brooding mind and with a bang he closed the car door. The cold breeze was circulating inside the vehicle once again in full vigor, replacing the sultry mini atmosphere that was created momentarily. Yet few drops of sweat trickles down his forehead. Shekhar can feel the throbbing heart, almost struck in the middle of his throat!
First time it had occurred four years back when everybody assumed it to be a premature heart attack, including him. But now he has learnt to live with this. Every time his body shows such autonomous excitement, words of Dr Cheryl explaining his condition to Tara echoes in his ears “Look Mrs. Dutta, it is not a panick disorder. It's not a very common case though, and in my 23 years of practice your husband is my second patient with such symptoms. Good part is he's totally non-alcoholic and you two are having a happening conjugal life, correct me...”
Shekhar knows he won't die but he is tired of tolerating the restlessness of his heart. He hates good things to begin with a bad ceremony. Previously he used to take weekly medication until he realized those were affecting his social attributes and had nothing to do with the chaos within. He twisted a lever to lower the seat and dialed a number, a particular number for which he drives more than thirty odd kilometers down the city every saturday to this godforsaken place.
Most saturdays he finds it switched off, some days the “subscriber not reachable” and once in a blue moon an auto-reply message, perhaps by slip of fingers nails! He tapped on the phone screen, 0-8-1-4-5-3-2-4-2-5-3. From the other end the call was ended just after two rings. It encouraged him. Passing the folded spectacle inside chest pocket he dialed fastest he could. This time it ended in a single ring. Voila! Muscles holding his spine tightened and there was a halo around his otherwise sunken look. Ah the phone had to be switched off now, as Shekhar tried for the third time! His heart rate has come down by now but the life inside that pounding heart had vanished in a trice. Knowing it won't hurt much he kept banging his head against the leather wrapped steering wheel, till the mobile message tone grabbed his attention back. The message read, “Stop latching onto my... or I swear to spray section 493 over this shit”
There was a pungent warmth in those letters that Shekhar could only perceive. It made him smile, like he always does while enjoying the breathless motion of this city in crazy office hours from his seventeenth-floor balcony. He is a freelance writer and one can seldom find him without his pensive mood. Matrices of discreet emotions condensed as broken words ran towards him with their wide open arms like he has always longed from Roohi in all these past nine years!
He is not a poet, yet occasional verses those find a place in Shekhar's personal blog keep him sane. It's all about taming the equilibrium, sometimes you need a buffer, sometimes just shift of weight.
“I took some thousand shimmering steps over the blistering sand;
The ruthless fireball blazed my naked back until he was tired-
Still I kept walking barefoot for I knew evening would fall,
There'd be a purple moon and desert chill to seal my wounds,
A slumber would thus follow to swab off my Pharaoh's tales....” Shekhar lost his flow in the middle and threw his phone on to the back seat. “Ah... this' preposterous... I took the heat... I ate the blow... I let go of my muse... after all these I've to stand the goddamn smell of coffee beans!” he shouted in a single breath.
Without moving an inch from his fully inclined seat Shekhar switched on the music system with a push of his great left toe. His new-found favorite track filled up the panting compartment- “... The purple piper plays his tune, The choir softly sing; Three lullabies in an ancient tongue, For the court of crimson king...” He took out a small packet, his afternoon shopping hunt, out of the glovebox. Discarding the plastic wrapper he sniffed the corner of the packing box in a way he was revitalizing himself with herbal aroma. With subtle movements of fingers he switched corners. He was relaxing with deep yet fast respirations, eyes closed and both the fists clenching on the small box.
Shekhar rolled sideways with a shy smile as if hiding his blushed face from the crescent moon barely visible behind those mirky clouds of September. He was biting his strawberry lips... his French beard looked out of place for the moment and then he slid his left hand fingers inside the shirt in a jerk. A button came out with its ruptured thread but it mattered least, his hand caressing every hair over half covered chest. With his right hand he took out a piece of fabric from the box he had been sniffing a minute back. It was a brassiere of some indistinguishable colour.
It seemed he was desperate to wrap himself up with that hanky sized cloth, touching it all over him, like challenging Egyptian puzzles. He didn't want to share that intoxicating musk of the illegitimate source with anyone in this universe. It was all his... at the same time he was a slave to it. Time flew without Shekhar's knowledge. Repeated beeping alerts of messaging application brought him back from his moments of ecstasy. He pulled up his trouser and belted it. Wiping his sweats of happiness with the wet bra, he finished a full bottle of water.
The notification read- “Cyrus, I'm still in my office... not feeling like going back home... where are you?” Shekhar typed, “I'm in my girlfriend's place... I'll be here tonight. Where's your husband dear?” The watch showed 8:20.
The phone disturbed the cozy air once more. It was a business call this time: “Yes I visited the store. It was all good... No haven't clicked any snap... Oh ok... No not at all... Sure... sure... I'll mail you the report in details... bills? No, that won't be necessary, It was a little buy... You forget that... your needs shall be properly met, not to worry at all... Yes, good night Mr D'Souza”, he hang up the phone and inserted the key into the ignition. In ten minutes the car dissolved amidst speeding traffics of western expressway.
After he descended to planes he couldn't change his driving habits. Shekhar likes it below eighty. Pulling down the windowshield he let loose the mismatched innerwear. He didn't give a goodbye kiss to it before it flew away to be lost forever. Everything has a life with respect to time... even love does, passion does, so does fantasy. The cool air brushed the right hemisphere of his face. Like the dark bylanes of south bay cemetary he waits for the unconditional cuddle from unidentified highway air too. Only there're few hallucinogens still remaining in this blind loop which make him forget for a while things he could do, he didn't.
Continued in Gitanjali's blog... Do checkout :)
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