He was just called Abu, the master of terror,
Killed like a machine without the slightest error,
Walking along on a gray winter day,
Listening to the things his conscience had to say,
Love and pity were strangers in his life,
Had more money than he wanted, faced no strife,
He had killed more people than he cared to think of,
But happiness was gone he had forgotten how to laugh,
His eyes wandered to a van coming swift and fleet,
The driver had not seen the child standing on the street,
Moving so fast like only a trained killer can,
He pushed the child away from the path of the van,
There was a loud thud as the van hit him,
And he lay bleeding, hope of recovery was slim,
Before his eyes flashed his useless, ugly past,
In the face of death he had found happiness at last.
Life was so simple as I knew it to be,
Where hardships were many but freedom was pure and free,
A shepherd I was in the green countryside,
The enveloping air was heavenly, the sky a carpet wide,
A pretty country girl to me her heart did lend,
Long evenings with her I loved to spend,
As the haunting melodies of the violin filled the air,
And she listened, love for music we did both share,
One gray day a well-dressed man heard me play,
He was enchanted and so the very next day,
Offered me riches and fame, life would never be dim,
If I left my village and went with him,
On the people of the big cities I cast my spell,
Money poured in and fame followed as well,
Moved with enchanting women forgot the girl who had been,
Alas! In the light of the sun the stars cannot be seen
The soul of Satan took up residence inside me,
In a fit of drunken driving, I accidentally hit a tree,
I barely survived but a hard price I had to pay,
Lost both of my hands, could’nt anymore play
Fame is fickle; money is soon spent,
Friends disappeared into thin air, did’nt know where they went,
I was soon out in the dark of the street,
Till one day my girl with me she came to meet
She still loved me, wanted to share the pain,
In my life a star had chosen to shine again
THE MIRROR OF TIME:
Down the dusty lanes walked a frail stooping figure,
Memories of the past were clear; the present was a blur,
They called him bad luck Sam moved away when he came near,
He evoked no love only pity and fear,
Had to limp along on his one good leg,
Was too old, had no way out but to beg,
His eyes and ears, which had once been so keen,
Refused to work anymore, they were now too mean,
Children threw stones as he came limping by
He brushed away tears with a sad sigh,
Torn were his clothes the roof was the sky,
Wondered whether he should live or whether he should die,
Removed something from his coat and looked at it with pride,
A medal for bravery in war where so many had died,
Had saved eight of his friends from certain death,
Nobody believed him, told him to save his breath,
Sam grew old, one gloomy day he finally died,
Was buried with his precious medal by his side,
People old one another at last from him we are free
Little realizing he was a man they never could be.
Disclaimer: ALL EVENTS, CHARACTERS AND PLACES SHOWN IN THIS STORY ARE ENTIRELY FICTIONAL.ANY RESEMBLANCE TO CHARACTERS, DEAD OR ALIVE IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.
Vikram saw the dream for the first time Tuesday night. Next morning he had a hazy recollection of a body falling in an almost obscenely slow motion through the air. The next thing he remembered was a body sprawled on the ground in a posture of lifelessness. Then as it happens so often in dreams, the dream shifted scene abruptly, like a bollywood fantasy song.
Vikram sat up in bed his wavy long hair falling over his face. He screwed up his face and thought hard, there was something else in the dream, which seemed oddly significant. the harder he thought the hazier the memory seemed to become so he gave up and gracefully jumped out of bed.
He looked in the mirror as he passed and liked what he saw. Tall, good looking and athletic Vikram seemed to radiate beauty and grace. Just twenty-one years of age, Vikram was entering his final year of electrical engineering in Vasavi College of Engineering; Hyderabad.Every College has a “popular guy on campus” and Vikram was the chosen one. With his Greek god looks it was not fair that he excelled in sports, dance and was decent at understanding concepts of D.C motors too. But life is seldom fair and it was not surprising that Vikram was the guy the gals swooned over and guys admired grudgingly.
Vikram was in the bath when the shrill ringing of the telephone interrupted him. He waited for his mother to pick it up, when suddenly he remembered with a start that his parents were out of town. Hurriedly wrapping a towel around him, he went dripping water over the bedroom floor, lifted the receiver and barked irritably” hello”
“What took you so long?” a plaintive voice mumbled.
“Unlike you some people actually bathe before coming to college”Vikram quipped.
“Huh.i’ve had my bath two hours ago” replied Rahul.
Vikram rolled his eyes in impatience. Rahul never understood jokes or puns unless it was explained to him umpteen times. Not wanting to explain,”what?”He
“Did neha call you? She promised to call me yesterday, but she never did.”
“Big surprise”vikram almost replied and then feeling ashamed of himself, trying to make his voice matter of fact said”ya. A couple of times.”
The line at the other end went silent.
Neha was a girl in their class. She seemed to have a huge crush on Vikram and followed him everywhere. She was pretty and vivacious. Have you seen “DIL CHAHTA HAI!”?
Unfortunately Vikram was aakash and neha was deepa.
And unfortunately Rahul loved her to hell but she hardly noticed him.
“Well, see u then” croaked Rahul in an unnaturally normal voice.
“Thanks for disturbing me in my bath”Vikram replied and put down the phone.
Vikram wondered for the thousandth time what made him chose such a dolt for his friend. Rahul was a complete antithesis of Vikram, a pale underdeveloped boy who was a huge introvert. He had lost a foot in an accident five years and used a walking stick to move.
Then he realized that with all his shortcomings he still liked Rahul like hell!
He saw the dream again the next night.
He sat up on bed; rivulets of sweat pouring down his face and tried to collect his thoughts. Dreams were not new to him, he had that recurring dream about the faceless fiend a lot in his childhood. But the faceless fiend became less scary when you woke up and realized it was just a dream. But now Vikram actually seemed to be scared when he was awake too.
Strange shapes seemed to materialize out of nowhere. The banyan tree outside his window seemed to form grotesque shapes on his bedroom wall. The long drawn out scream of the falling body seemed to echo in his ears.
“What the hell is happening?” Vikram asked himself.” When did I become such piss in the pants coward?”
He had never realized that his bedroom looked such a sinister place when it was dark. The poster of the laughing clown seemed to sneer at him. The branches of the banyan swayed alarmingly. He closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” demanded Rahul.”You’ve been sitting silently from morning, looking like the burden of the world rests squarely on your shoulders”
They were sitting in the last bench of their class. A portly professor was explaining about the swing equation. They pretended to listen with interest as they murmured trying to keep their lip movement minimal.
“Nothing, I’ve been getting this dream….”His voice trailed away.
“So what? Even I’ve been getting this dream where Neha and i…”He stopped red faced.
Not even noticing his friend’s discomfort Vikram continued”No, this is not just a dream, it almost seems like a warning!”
“A warning from what? From your fairy grandmother?” That the big baaaad wolf is going to get you” sniggered Rahul.”Anyway, our Eat street plan for tonight is still on right? Neha is coming too.” But Vikram is coming naa, only if he comes then I’ll come”Rahul mimicked Neha’s voice in a high falsetto.
“Mr. Vikram”. the voice was a little louder this time.
Vaguely confused he turned around.
Professor Sudhakar was glaring at him.” Would you be kind enough to go to the board and explain the mechanics of the swing equation?
They were sitting overlooking the hussain sagar. Dark clouds loomed overhead, scurrying past like demons across the depths of hell. The water was looking unusually murky today, dirtied by years and years of pollution and neglect. A lone bird swooped down on the water flying along on its meandering flight.
Neha’s shrill laughter broke Vikram’s reverie. He looked around to see what the joke was. Apparently Rahul had said something funny and Neha was laughing.
Vikram glanced at Rahul’s face. Flush with the success of impressing Neha for a split second Rahul looked different…. exhilarated…almost. ………handsome.
“Chalo, lets go and get something to eat” said Neha.
They wandered near the pizza corner outlet.
Rahul went on ahead his walking stick tap tapping on the floor.
Behind him very casually Neha slipped her hand into Vikram’s
Vikram felt oddly pleased and secure.
Secure? What an odd word for his mind to use. A pretty girl catches your hand and you felt…………Secure? It would have been funny if he were not so worried.
“Hey! Lets have our fortunes told” said Rahul turning around.
His eyes rested on Vikram and Neha’s hands held firmly together.
Vikram rather embarrassed tried to pry his hands free but Neha held fast.
“Ya! Lets”She replied.
An old kindly looking lady was sitting on the ground. Two parrots were wandering around bored in their cage.
“Amma” called Rahul.”Maa bhavishya chepthava”(“will u tell our fortunes”)
“Malika”called the woman in an unusually strong voice and a parrot awkwardly scrambled out of its cage.
“You know”Neha whispered in Vikram’s ear,” This woman seems new, usually a man with a big moustache sits here”
“Must be his girl friend” Vikram replied and we both giggled loudly.
They stopped short on catching the old woman’s eye.
The parrot had picked a card.
Slowly muttering to herself she turned it over. She gave a gasp and clutched at her heart.
They looked at one another bemused.
“Too terrible” She gasped.” Here take your money and leave, go.go…. go”
They were amused.” Go away!” she screamed.
A few passers by were looking at them in astonishment. The old woman saw our skeptical faces.
“Dreams have a peculiar habit of coming true, you know” she drawled.
The world seemed to come to a standstill for Vikram.A deep sense of unreality was sweeping over him. Blackness seemed to surround him like a straitjacket. He was fighting for air…Vague faceless entities had gathered around him, mocking..Laughing. Fear held him in its seductive grip, dark primitive fears.
Vikram opened his eyes. He realized that he had fainted. People had gathered around .He found Neha’s face in the crowd looking tearful. Rahul’s face worried and slightly puzzled.
Lets go” he muttered.
Before he left he turned back. The old woman was looking at Rahul with a peculiar expression on her face…sorrow and………pity!
Vikram shuddered and moved on.
Third night running he had the same dream. This time it was different. Things seemed different, less hazy. He could see better. He stifled a scream as the body fell to the ground with a dull thud.. But something else was falling in the same obscenely slow motion. It cluttered on the ground and for a second it was crystal clear what it was. A walking stick. The scene shifted abruptly. An old woman was laughing, cackling”I told you so”…
He lay trembling in his bed. Rahul was in danger., he thought,Rahul’s gonna die. What the…?
Thousands of questions pounded his head as he screamed aloud, on the verge of hysteria. The banyan swayed merrily.
He jumped out of bed stubbing his foot on the table; hardly noticing…ran to the phone
Rahul listened, his annoyance turning into astonishment then amusement.
“Relax, big guy. Nothing is going to happen to me, you just had a bad dream “
“Don’t be a dolt. It was more than a dream .It was almost a vision, I saw you falling to your death, I tell u “
“Hold it! You wanna make sure that I’m fine, come over to my house, my parents are staying over at my aunt’s. Lets talk. Maybe you will calm down then”
Rahul put back the receiver looking at the glowing dial of his watch. It showed”11.56”
Rahul stood on the terrace enjoying the soft moonlight. It reminded him of all things romantic and …...Neha.
The sound of Vikram’s Pulsar 180 broke the silence of the night.
“Come on up, called Rahul
Vikram ran to the terrace, taking the stairs in huge steps.
Rahul listened as an incoherent Vikram gasped out something unintelligibly, the effort of climbing two floors making him gasp.
“Calm down bro”Rahul said.
Pure terror was apparent on Vikram’s face as he tried to explain.
Rahul listened a superior, disbelieving smirk on his face.
Vikram suddenly realized that Rahul did not believe a word he said. Frustrated he turned on Rahul.”You think I am mad don’t you, that I am losing my mind”
‘No, not at all, I think you are just slightly hysterical” said Rahul calmly. For the first time in their friendship he felt like he was in control of the situation, like he was the director of this scene.
He looked at Vikram’s face. He felt pity looking at his once so confident friend.
Something snapped in Vikram.He felt like he was being made fun of and he did not like it.
“You bloody cripple”, he shouted. You have been a failure all your life, a scavenger who feeds off my glory, now I’ am so concerned about your welfare and you sit there grinning, like the stupid ape?
Vikram felt ashamed even before he had finished”Sorry”he blubbered like a helpless child beating his hands on the terrace railing.
He heard something behind him, realized what was happening even before the hands moved through the air giving him a push.
The body flew through the air, staying afloat for what seemed like eternity before crashing with a dull thud.
Rahul gave a grunt of satisfaction. As he was looking down his stick slipped through his hands. The stick flew through the air and clattered to a stop near the body sprawled on the ground.
Then everything was silent that warm summer night.
Labels: Short story