Thursday, July 03, 2014

If only...

                        The rain has been falling non-stop for about a couple of hours now. The fact that it is still raining meant he would be late today, again. Lenient as he is , he was sure his superior would one day run out of patience. Late to work ,early to leave, unplanned time offs in between; anyone in his right mind would have blown his fuse by now. Strangely things have been pretty smooth so far. He knew that one day it will all come to an end, all that is left would be to pray that it is not today.

                        Thoughts of work have been distracting him for a while now but since then a certain aura of calmness seemed to descend on him. There was nothing he could do, the rain will not stop and without any protection he was not going to venture out from under the building. It was a stale mate, the one he believed he is enjoying quite a bit. Having come to the realization that he would be there for a while, he settled down to sit upon an old but still sturdy stool there and started to just look around a bit. In this part of town , being stuck out in the rain is one of the worst possible scenarios you can get into. Everyone goes inside their houses and shuts themselves in, the shops close down, and even the taxis stop running. Now how he ended up in this neighborhood is still a mystery. Until three months ago he was a proud owner of a tiny villa up river and had a handsome sum tucked away in various accounts across different banks. It started as a rain then too, a drop, a few drops and then came the rushing torrent of flood water that leveled his place and almost took him with it. With a grittiness unheard of people like him, he had clawed his way back from the depths and snatched his life away from the whirlpools threatening to silence him forever. The story ran for a week in the local edition papers till they found greener pastures to explore their creativity into. So from a fairly successful member of the society he had become a suffering survivor of one of the nature’s freak ‘accidents’. The celebrity status for the one that was alive, netted him some amount of money which when put together with all he had saved so far left him with a not too shabby amount, one which would not allow him to go back to his life before but would get him the big but lonely mansion at this part of the town. And there he is now. In a place where people even view rains as a stranger to be wary of, he has started the second phase of his life.
                        There were no regrets, no broken hearts he left behind when he decided to relocate. The only regret was his own , the only broken heart was his own heart. The day it all came down was just a week away from when he was getting ready to pop the question to Sally. It was not love, no ; it was something more, it was a connection he had felt when he was with her. Love is never blind, deaf and dumb, she knew he was ‘loaded’ and he knew she considered money as one of his attractive qualities. It was more of a comfortable arrangement but deep in his heart, he was deeply madly in love with her. The fact that she did not even come to see him once while he was in the hospital did not disturb him one bit. What finally tore him apart was the fact that she had left a message for him with her friend. There were no goodbyes, no anger, just a business letter.

“Dear Dave,

It seems things have become a bit tedious for us now since you have lost everything. I do not blame you for what happened but at the same time I have to think about my future too. While you were recuperating I have met with a very nice gentleman called Victor who seems to be smitten with me. Since there is nothing more to look forward to after you have been released from the hospital, I am not sticking around. Victor and I are leaving for Canada this weekend. Hope you recover well

Sally. “

            The letter, though worded simply, tore him into pieces. His sudden craving of solitude was the driving factor for finally settling down in this little corner of the world. There were days when he used to dream about her, dreams of a future he never had, but slowly they also faded. The memories were still there but they have started to look like old photographs, becoming less clear with each passing day. Deep down he still missed her, sometimes a smiled flashed on a colleague, and a word or a gesture would painfully remind him of her. Emotions would begin to flood his mind till he was sure he would drown , well almost drown, again. It had caused him a lot of trouble but gradually he managed to bring them down and be normal. The memories, the pain, the agony, all have become a part of him, a part he kept locked up inside; hidden behind a well crafted mask of indifference.

            The rain shows no sign of stopping. The time for work has now passed and there was no point in going all the way like a wet cat to spend a few hours before travelling back all the way to his house again. The walk to his place took hardly 10 minutes; still he was drenched by the time he climbed up the stairs to his front door. The lights blinked on when he got inside, even though the house was a bit old, it still had some of the distinctive features found in most modern apartments. An intercom connected to the gate, automatic light sensors etc. He began climbing up the stairs to his first floor bedroom with a cheerful “Honey, I am home!”  Slowly he reached his bedroom and opened the door.

“You know, I thought a lot about you today Sally, how I almost lost you and then how fate brought us back together. I just had to come see you after that”

He walked up to the female human head mounted on his bed room wall and slowly patted its head.

“Now now, don’t be all angry with me. I promise I will go to work tomorrow “

Hair had begun to fall down from the head. The mild smell of decay made him wrinkle his nose in disgust.

“Oh Sally my dear, I believe you have been a naughty little girl. Now that you started smelling like last time, I might have to replace you.”

He picked up the head, went to the window and threw it out into the dark as far as he could.

Tonight he has to work. Preparations have to be made. The heads are lasting longer now but he still could not preserve them enough to make them stay as long as he wanted. As per the plan he had charted out, tonight would be Sally for when she was young, very young, maybe sixteen. The younger they are, the longer the heads last.

He slowly climbed down and went out again, the rain did not seem to bother him. Tonight he will meet with another Sally again. Double-checking whether he had the bag with his tools and the map of the neighboring university area, he started walking slowly to the campus grounds.

And in another twelve hours news began spreading of the 8th student to be gone missing from the campus, never to be found again.


Monday, June 30, 2014

A Chocolate Heart

                  He looked around. There was no one in sight. The only sounds were the whirring noises of the fans. He fast approached the desk he was aiming for. Making sure that there was no one sneaking upon him he placed the package on the desk and ran away.
                  2 hours later: Veena has just reached office. Today was the same. There was the parcel on her desk today also, a carefully wrapped box of heart shaped chocolates. She was surprised the first time it happened around a year ago but since then has tried to track down who was responsible for this. But all her efforts were in vain and the boxes keep appearing. They were really good chocolates and she had tried to find out the brand or the manufacturer but finally realized that they were homemade. The past few months she had given up trying to find out who her benefactor is and have enjoyed just eating them, those lovely little chocolate hearts.
                  He was watching her from a few cubicles away. He saw her smile when she found the box and his heart skipped a beat. She was lovely; the way her face brightens up when she breaks into a smile would lift his spirits in the darkest of days. He first saw her little over a year ago when he transferred to this location. She was the one in charge of introducing him to his new colleagues and it was love at first sight. He began talking to her, hanging out around her and in time they became very close friends. But he never had the courage to speak his mind to her, never got the proper words to convey his feelings for her. It was not just love, it was something really special. That was when he decided upon the idea of chocolates. Veena was a die-hard chocolate junkie, and there lay his chances. He began making small batches of chocolates; the little heart shaped ones and once he had become good at it, started leaving boxes of them at her desk. He had not hoped to continue doing this for so long, but he kept postponing his plans of telling her. She used to ask him at first whether he had seen anyone leave the boxes. Although it was painful to lie to her, he maintained a straight face and told her he didn’t. He even went as far as to make fun of her for having a secret admirer. Half hoping she would find out the truth, he had kept going for so long but was disappointed when she stopped searching. That is when he decided the time has come to finally tell her the truth. Tomorrow is as good a day as any. It is Valentine ’s Day, the day of love and he had been preparing for some time. This time he made a big chocolate heart, one of his best works and was planning on giving it to her tomorrow. The anticipation, the reaction he might get from her, all of it was having its effect on him. He was so out of it that he deliberately tried to keep out of her way.
                                    He managed to evade her till evening. His attempts were also helped by the fact that she had too much work to do. But as his day was ending, he got a message from her.  “Meet me urgently near the garden benches. It’s about my admirer ;)”. His heart stopped for a bit, then started beating faster. “Oh my God she found out. What will I tell her, how will I tell her?” He began panicking. The location also was un-nerving. The benches were hangouts for the couples in the company and in the evenings once can always find love blooming under the setting sun around those benches. Both of them have seen and laughed at the love struck couple there but now a meeting at the very same spot? He contemplated not going but then again it would not serve any purpose. Why postpone the inevitable? He replied “Ok” and walked ever so slowly to the benches. He saw her even before she saw him. The flowing hair, the graceful figure, the spot of sunshine on a darkening skyline. And then she saw him and her face lit up with a smile. He felt his heart beating faster, and was aware of a mild sheet of sweat on his brow. This is silly, he thought and went ahead to meet her. Even before he reached her, she ran forward and hugged him. He was taken aback. This is not what he expected. His heart felt like it had a life of its own and was beating hard as if to tear out of his chest. His body became tense, he started sweating. But within all this there was a feeling of relief, of a huge burden being lifted. Finally it is over, no more sneaking around office in the morning to drop the boxes off. No more staying up all night making the chocolates. It’s all over now. She took a couple of steps back and started talking. “I finally found the secret admirer.” Her eyes were wide and they looked happy, deep happy eyes. He finally understood what heaven feels like. He was lost in his own thoughts, when she shook him. “You heard what I said?” “What?” he broke out of his reverie with a start. “I said this is Vinod, my secret admirer.”
                  The scream of pain was inside his head. The heart that was beating so fast for her was shattered to a million pieces. I looked behind and saw Vinod approaching. “Hi Raju, Hey darling” “Hey” she crooned. He was speechless. The words seemed to come from far away. Veena was telling about how she found Vinod around her desk during the break and how he was acting a bit suspicious and how she had forced him into a corner and finally he breaking down and accepting that he is in fact the secret admirer and he made those chocolates himself. “You know Vinod , Raju was the first one to suggest that the chocolates would be from a secret admirer” “Is it? Wow man I thought I had gotten away with it too, if she hadn’t caught me today” They were still talking, completing sentences, how the chocolates were so good. He did not listen to any of this. The pain was unbearable. His eyes burned, but tears did not come. He felt empty, like his whole life, his being was sucked out. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, it was all over. With supreme effort he made an excuse about some call and walked back. Did she call him back? He didn’t care, it was all over. The tears that he kept in check began flowing. And he ran and ran and ran. Tears did not stop; it was still flowing when he finally reached his place. The chocolate heart he made for her was on the table, staring at him like an ugly eye, a bitter reminder of how he lost. With an anguished cry he fell down on the floor.
The Times. February 14, 2013.
                  The body of Veena Sharma who was missing from yesterday night onwards have been found in the Central Park. An employee of xxx company for the last 3 years, she was reported missing by her parents when she failed to comeback from work. She was found by an early morning jogger today. On preliminary examination, it was found that she had been strangled. What made this scene gruesome was the fact that her heart had been cut out and replaced with a big chocolate heart. Upon collecting evidence from the scene of crime, the police have found an employee id belonging to one Mr.Raju Sundaram. They had traced the id to the home of the said individual. Receiving no response, the police broke down the door to find Raju in a catatonic stage sitting on the dining table with the missing heart of Veena and a bloody knife in front of him. Police have taken him into custody for further questioning although the police appointed psychiatrist is of the opinion that it was next to impossible to get anything out from him. This has become another one of those cases where a promising life of a young woman was cut short by a deranged individual. Veena’s parents were not available for comments after Raju’s arrest.
Special correspondent.
“Honey did you know this Veena woman?” asked Meena to her husband. “She works in the same company as you” “No, never seen her before in my life. Who is she? What happened?” asked Vinod. “No nothing, another woman murdered by a failed lover maybe. They should be hanged you know. So are you sure you are not coming?” “No Meena, I got to finish up on the laundry today or else there would not be anything to wear tomorrow.” “Ok then, see you soon” and Meena left for work. Vinod waited till her car was out of sight before taking out the garbage bag from the lowest drawer. “The jeans can be saved with washing, but the shirt is a goner. She fought like a tigress, but then she was never going to win. Should have waited a bit more before cutting out the heart though, it was too bloody this time; and it was my favorite shirt too.“ Vinod sighed. And then the smile came back “Thank you Raju, I just loved your chocolates”. With the smile still on his lips he walked out into the backyard to add the bag to the already burning pile of garbage there.