HONOUR ABOVE ALL – (A-DAY-A-SHORT STORY)
By Neel Anil Panicker
Sarthak stared at the white streak of the Himalayan peaks that loomed like sentinels in the far horizon. Sitting on the rocky edge beside, his butt felt as if it were touched by an icy sheet. He got up, rubbed his eyes off the icicles that formed around it, and looked down at a bottomless valley, the very sight of which ran a cold fear down his spine.
For a moment he cursed himself and his life, what it had morphed into in the past one year or so.
Ever since…ever since what? His mind was still unwilling to verbalize what it had locked up in its innermost recesses.
His thoughts went back to the previous day, to the afternoon she was to leave.
“Where are you leaving”, he had asked, knowing fully the answer.
‘Oh, I…well…Chennai, you know…the same thing…’
She’d said mumbled, appearing distinctly evasive.
‘The same thing…yeah, how he knew. That’s the spiel she’d had been serving him for the past twelve months. It was always a business trip. Every third month or so. ‘This office is on a buying spree. Need someone experienced enough to close the deals’ was her standard reply.
It was, had been so…the same staccato response.
Only the places changed.
“I’ll be back in a couple of days. I am flying to Coimbatore…Chennai, Ahmedabad…Simla…”
This time he was ready. He’d to find out. The moment her car arrived and he saw her off, he was on the phone.
The information was not so cheap. It had cost him his half month’s salary.
“Sarthak Baba, the target was seen on the days and dates you mentioned in a shack in the Himalayas. She comes alone, stays for a while, and then goes back, leaving behind a red rose on a cliff edge.”
His heart raged with blind fury. Jealousy and its not so distant cousin enmity were emotions quite knew to him.
Sarthak looked up as mist enveloped all over.
He was still a couple of hours away.
He stepped forward.
She’d left him with no choice.
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