“It’s PRIYA. P…R…I…Y…A. So stop calling me ‘Flamingo’.”
‘Because you are one.’
Priya looked at Raj, whose hands kept flitting in and out of the side pocket of her little blue dress, reaching places whose existence the nineteen year old wasn’t even aware of.
“Oh! is that so? Tell me, how did you arrive at that deduction”?
The two were at the National Zoo and leaning against the parapet that overlooked an oasis of blue waters surrounded by thick bushy outgrowth all around it.
Wednesday, at this hour of the afternoon, a quarter past three, was, even by Delhi’s standards, pretty languid.
The animals and birds, big and small, and their watchers, the men who were tasked with the upkeep of what was arguably the nation’s best kept sanctuary were taking their much needed siesta, away from public glare and scrutiny, safely tucked in their nests, homes, hearths or wherever it was that they felt comfy and relaxed.
Turning around, Raj, his hands hidden from public gaze, replied, “That’s ‘bcoz you’re tall, shapely, have a slender figure, have a very glowing lush apple like face, and ….”
‘And what, dear Raj? Priya vollied, her voice suddenly putting on a flirtatious honey dipped tone.
Raj dug his eyes deep into hers before retorting, “And also b’coz you have long, very long endless legs”.
Priya blushed before retorting, : Don’t forget; I have a long, sharp beak too”.
Come weekends and the beach was the go to place for the two as little Stella loved them, those stacks of coloured ball-sized stones, one on top of the other, that rose into the azure blue skies.
Making himself comfortable on the sands, her father Tom would keep an eye on his six year old as she played hide and seek in the sandy shores, frolicking around her ‘Five Uncles’, laughing and screaming and shouting her lungs out as children of her age are wont to do.
After a while, when the sun came down, the two would head back home but not before Stella planted her customary kiss on each of her ‘Uncles’ blissfully unaware that under one of them lay buried her mother, a victim of the massive tsunami that blew away the coastal town a couple of years ago.
There he is; an apology of a figure, a small moving dot on a fast obliterating horizon.
From my perch by the fourth floor window that looks out onto the desolate street that’s cloaked in darkness, I gaze out to him, my eyes all intent.
I see him come, hobble rather, a weary old figure, the shoulders hanging out loosely around his reed thin frame as if they were some wilted flower; the feet, thinly sticks dragging themselves over the water filled cobbled pathways.
He drags past Abdul’s and all of a sudden he looks up.
Briefly, very briefly, our eyes meet.
We converse in silence.
He drops his neck and ambles into the ramshackle building.
In a moment he would be walking up the creaky stairs and step in through the door; the door that’s been left open ever since he left half a day ago.
Ever since Stella’s death, he had taken to the sea with a vengeance. However, unlike the sun, sand and surf seekers who descended on Kovalam beach, Paulose preferred the peripheries__ the near secluded far off jagged corners that had long fallen off tourist maps, where boats didn’t stray into, and where the air was sans the edifying aroma that wafted around, emanating as it were from the ubiquitous king size beach side tavas in which stirred and deep fried ‘Southern Special’ delicacies such as Smoked Chilli Chicken and Crab Finnito.
‘You seem to be elsewhere tonight. Is everything all right, King Kong?’
Prakasham extended his arm and picked up the glass of whisky from the side table.
Half reclining against the wall, he drank its contents in one gulp and then lighted a cigarette.
‘You haven’t answered my question, sweetheart?’
Prakasham turned his head and looked at the woman lying beside him. The silk nightie was hitched upwards to above her knees, revealing a pair of well toned milky white egs. His eyes moved upwards and settled at the deep V of her cleavage. He felt a stir up his loins and knew he was losing control yet again.
Damnt it! I need to focus. He reminded himself.
“I think we made a mistake, Priya.”
‘By falling for me, King Kong? I thought King Kong never makes mistakes; only sets right mistakes, right, my darling?’
The words, intonated in that husky ‘butter can melt’ honey laden voice worked like a balm, a much needed aphrodisiac.
Prakasham felt his hands roving once again.
“I know. But still, I think we should not have rushed this soon after Anjali’s murder”.
‘Ah, so now I get it. You never wanted Lekshmi out of your life. Isn’t that the truth? After all she was your wife, the one who added heft to your public personality, gave it the much needed veneer of respectability. It’s good for business, this get together of the super rich Iyengar and Muthuswamy families, right Prakasham? As for me I am just a mistress, your keep, just a sexy young woman who you can’t keeps your hands off, who you come to every other night and every such times when you feel a little too horny and want a round of free uninhibited sex.’
Jolted by this frontal verbal assault, Prakasham turned around to say something but Priya brusquely pushed aside his hands and continued,
‘No, Mr Prakasham, I have had enough. Just by setting me up in this beautiful three room deluxe cage and doling me a pithy monthly allowance which you hand over on a weekly basis ebery time you pass by and feel the urge to have a quick quickie of your brand of wildly kinky sex you shouldn’t feel that I will ever be satisfied. I am done with being happy with such beggarly droppimgs. It’s time you give me what I want and that I…’
A shard of pain shot up to his chest. Despite the air conditioning, Prakasham found himself sweat as beads of sweat formed around his temples.
He tried to strike a placatory note.
“Oh! Oh! my sweetheart, my butterfly. It’s not as you think. You know that I love you and I have promised that we will live together soon as man and wife. It’s just that we need to bide our time. The case…cases, rather, are still very hot. We need to first save our asses. Things, I am afraid are turning worse. I shouldn’t have listened to you. The police, I fear, is onto something. We need to…”
Priya shot up from the bed and poured herself a glass of whisky.
‘Ah, there I get it. So the buck stops at me. I am now to be blamed for the two murders. Is it my fault if you botched them up? Tell me is it my fault that you gave her an…’
His face nor dripped of all colour, Prakasham felt the pain rise in his chest. He pulled himself out of the bed and paced the floor of the oblong shaped bedroom.
Suddenly, he stopped, slipped on his trousers and shirt and walked towards the door.
Watching him leave, Priya fired her final salvo.
‘King Kong, you settle this business smoothly. And remember, I need a public marriage within six months and half the property in my name. Also, Rs 100 crores immediately transferred into into Shivam’s bank account that is jointly held by me. I hope you haven’t forgotten who Shivam is? And in case you have let me remind you that Shivam is our biological son__yours and mine.’
Prakasham dragged his feet out of the room and out of the house. Thankfully, the lift was open and soon he found himself out of Silvery Heights.
Seconds later and seated in the luxurious comfort of his Mercedes, he instructed the driver to head towards The Metropolitan Club.
As the four wheel drive picked up speed and sped through the near empty city roads, Prakasham closed his eyes and let out a silent prayer imploring Lord Muruga to help extricate him from his current troubles.
#neelanilpanicker #A-ZCHALLENGE #FICTION #T IS TROUBLES
Sheeba craned her neck as her eyes bored holes into the sky. Somewhere, from behind the skein of silvery white, she knew, she believed to be so, watched her Steve, the one who was now one with the stars.
‘Look my love. Revenge has happened. Vikram, the man who snatched you away from me, is today my slave. I have him in shackles. There he remains, locked in our underground basement, his arms and legs chained to a steel door, condemned to living death.’
A tear dropped her eye.
She looked up and whispered. ‘Until we meet next, my love.’
She was always flying off, metaphorically speaking. Winging her way from one centre to the other, from one classroom to the other, teaching, interacting, counselling, solving, resolving the doubts of her wards, the innumerable army of students who flocked to her, hovered all around her, desperately clinging onto her every word.
Her words, the phrases and idioms that she chose to use, the rich repertoire of esoteric English that she employed to convey both___the simplest as well as the most profound of thoughts__were emblematic of not just her high pedigree but also revealed her love and passion for the Queen’s language.
It was this same passion that she sought for and demanded of her students. And reciprocated they did, with some of them passing out not just with flying colours but going on to establish trailblazing careers.
And so it was that on hearing of her death they all came, some even crossing the proverbial Seven Seas, all converging on her humble abode, the small one room rented house that she had called home and lived in all these years.
All except one: Shivani, her brightest student, and incidentally, also her only child, the who she had taught to fly.