‘Actually, it’s very simple. I love you, you love me. We want to get married. So, I see no problem, right?’
Vikram looked into Isha’s eyes. They were earnest, in love, and as happy as a teddy bear’s. He didn’t have the heart to counter her. Nevertheless, he began.
“See my dear. We know that we love ourselves like crazy, that we can’t live without each other. But the question is does the world around us know that, and more importantly, does it care to even acknowledge, leave alone accept that.“
‘But why do we even have to bother about the world?’, Isha persisted. It’s our lives, it’s we who have to live it, it’s to do with our happiness and joy, right’?
Vikram held her hands and said, his voice now all saturnine, “Listen, lives cannot be lived in isolation. We can never ever be islands cut off from the mainland. WE need to make a life in this society and world itself. Life and living is a sentence, however harsh it may seem to be that’s best lived and understood by mastering its alphabet, both vowels and consonants. So, beg, borrow, or steal, we, i mean the two of us need to buy their approval, or at least their acquiscence, so that our future does not end up complicated.
As one just entering into teen hood, he had spent long summer months poring over spy thrillers, his appetite whetted by jaw dropping high octane adrenaline dripping tales of daring all black clad vodka consuming spyglass wielding uber spies flitting in and out of cities and continents and solving hair raising crimes, catching uber white collar fortune hunting criminals who looked as if they had just stepped out of million dollar movie sets.
Alas! How fast dreams turn to dust. The hard rock of reality struck barely a year into his joining the police force, and now after almost three decades of sleuthing (and two divorces, three live ins and several one night slam bam thank you mams’ later,) Detective Abraham Chacko, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Cochin City Police had come to the horrific, and maybe, even regrettable realisation that life including police work is not always what it promises to be; in fact it’s entirely its opposite.
And so it were that one fine Monday evening he found himself, clad in knee high military boots and spyglass in hand, hacking his way through the dense jungles that ringed the northern periphery of Periyar Forest Reserves, in Central Kerala.
“Aaah…I guess I have hurt my leg”
Detective Chacko turned around and pointed the flashlight first at his deputy’s face, then at the ground below.
The torch beams slowly rose towards the ankles. The lens illuminated a stab of blood that had spurted out of the ankles and shone through the regimentation khakhi trousers.
He lifted the torch beam towards its owner’s face.
Constable Bose winced in pain.
‘Just a little gnash. Nothing much. It’s rocky out here. Plus, the earth’s all wet. Just go slow and fall back behind me.’
Detective Chacko inched forward; his deputy at his heels; the duo trudging forward, two amorphous shadows flitting in and out of the dreary dark expanse that loomed ahead.
It was Bose who first spotted it.
As Detective Chacko turned the flashlight towards two feet in front of him, the sight that greeted him sent an icy chill run down his spine.
There, in front of him, around a small depression in the ground, stood a almost six feet high monolithic all black stone spire, and just below it, on the marshy grounds, lay, smeared in blood a headless body, a body shorn of all clothes save for an underwear that covered the male genitalia.
As Bose from behind let out a half scream, Detective Chacko once more came to the horrific realisation that in life you didn’t need an opponent to bring you down, the mere sight of a certain human body would do the job just as well.
(Author’s Noe: When I saw this photo, i was staring at how my second chapter would look like. The first few paragraphs of this came to mind. So I sat down to write story based on those paragraphs. I wasn’t very far into it when I realized that, although in some ways it is complete, it seems more like a beginning than a whole story. That’s when i sat down and wrote this second chapter of my ongoing crime fiction novella titled ‘ A Night Full Of Murders’. The first chapter link is attached herewith. Please read and comment. Your constructive feedback is very much appreciated. Thanks, Neel)
TO READ CHAPTER 1 ‘HATE YOU TO ETERNITY’ CLICK HERE
‘You see the lone spire that stands apart among a sea of other similarly spaced out but slightly larger ones, you look at the jagged pointed edges of them all that jut out into the sky and whose images the azure blue yet still born waters capture; they are huge clues, signals that have larger meanings the artist wanted to convey.’
“Pardon me, Professor Alberto Rodrigues, are you telling me that there is a connection between the corpse that was found in the greenhouse and this abstract painting?”
‘All I have offered is my professional psychological interpretation of the painting that was found in the murdered woman’s bedroom, and which, as you mentioned, was sketched by the murdered woman herself barely hours before her death; now, it is for you, Detective Chacko, to go figure out and hopefully unravel this murder mystery that’s become the talking point of Cochin City.’
Nishant looked up and a beam of the smiling sun streaked in through the sky high translucent dome shaped roof. More embarrassed than amused, he shifted his gaze to find myself staring at the huge hexagonal foyer, at its multi-hued glass windows, and at the fish bowl shaped revolving diamond dripping chandelier that sprinkled psychedelic pearls of glitter all around the football sized atrium.
“Feel at home. This is your new world, the world you belong to.”
Nishant needn’t have turned around to know who the voice was.
He knew investors had come; knew the price his Start Up commanded.
“Exactly. They’ll lay out the red carpet for him, have him walk down the aisle amidst staggering applause, and then slicing through the high clapping and super shrieks of Hail Hitlers, gingerly usher him inside his cubicle where awaiting him would be wall to wall thick silk carpeting, piped music, low floating lights et al. That’s where he would reside till the powers that be have a change of heart and replace him with their next rubber stamp, maybe this time a pumpkin, for a change.
‘Would that keep him quite? Make him turn a blind eye to all the wrongs?’
“For sure. He’s been bought. Can’t you see the goodies that would surround him? He’s their child___a made to order concoction, one who’s been programmed to do their bidding. One whose only job is to amuse himself with all the paraphernalia that surrounds him__the candybars, the hot chocolates, and the sexy thing in high heels that would feed him all this.
Written for multiple writing prompts including Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers where the challenge is to write a flash fiction story or poem in around 175 words, based on the weekly photo prompt. Thanks as always to the challenge host Priceless Joy. For more information visit HERE.
To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.
‘You need to wear masks in order to get by in this world.’
It wasn’t the first time Professor Vikram was hearing such a sentiment. But coming from someone whom he had just met, and that too barely an hour ago, it did come as a surprise.
From across the table he looked across to Alia. She was still young, relatively of course, cheerfully pushing her thirties, had excellent academic credentials___a first class distinction, a Gold medallist boot, and that too in microbiology was no mean task___plus, a woman with a lot of spunk and chutzpah___short hair styled as the latest fashion and a giant arched dragon tattoo that ornamented the length of her nape was proof of that.
‘Fierce; born to rebel,’ he thought.
Why then? he wondered.
His mind a turnstile, he decided to unravel the mystery.
“But you didn’t need to wear a mask. As far as I see you are a woman of the world___ independent, strong, smart, and a thinking individual. You could have exposed him long, long ago, when…err … he did all that you say he did to you…”
‘Sexually violated me. True. I could have done that then. But I didn’t. And as to why is that so all I can say in my defence is that at times you need to just wear a mask and carry on and wait for the right time and opportunity to unmask the misdeeds of those who’ve made it their business to wear masks all their lives.”
It was time to leave and Santhript knew that. The all too familiar lump in the throat was getting bigger and bigger. Standing in the bus stand, luggage in hand, his eye caught the mirror that peeped out from among among the array of psychedelic metal cats and cheap cotton ball ubiquitous pink dolls that jostled for space and human attention in just one among the several hole in the wall trinkets shops that are part and parcel of the eco system around renowned religious place.
‘Look, our bus has come!’ The crowd yelled in unison.
As it grinded to a halt, its tyres traced a perfect circle on the dirt laden road below, spewing up thick upward layers of dust and smoke.
‘Thanks for being a wonderful guide. You made sure our stay in Mookambika was such a pleasurable experience. Here, take this. This is for your extra efforts.’
Santhript looked down. Three crisp hundred rupee notes held out and glistened under the glare of the morning sun.
He summoned all his will but still the tears welled up. Keeping them on a leash proved to be a challenge.
Even after all these years. Even after having lived in the temple premises since being born.
Even after knowing that every kind woman with a child or two and a man around was not family.
Family they were, but not his family. Not the family that he could call his own.
Seconds later, money in hand, he was watching, misty eyed, as the bus, now choc-o-bloc with seekers turned around and hit the highway.
He stood there, for God knows how long__unmoving, a statue__the heady concoction of dust and fumes and rage and sadness blurring all images until the bus was but a speck in the distant horizon.
And then he turned back to resume his orphaned existence.