#fiction, #humor, #crime, #violence, #romance
Saturday, Saturday, when will it be Saturday…
She drummed her fingers on the calendar hanging on the wall. She traced the outline of the date with her finger as if it were a tangible thing. It was still only Thursday night. Saturday was still far away. Worse still, Kirat had still not called. This is one sure indication that he’s not interested beyond friendship, she told herself. Because her last boyfriend would flood her phone with texts and calls and missed calls (a cheap way of saying I miss you).
If only she could fast forward time to Saturday, rotate the Earth faster on its axis, then she would know for sure where she stood with him for right now, they were a little more than friends but far from ‘being a thing’. And she hated to be in a limbo. That’s not the way she worked. It was either black or white for her…always.
Her phone beeped and she ran to it like a duck on a June bug, only to find that it was a WhatsApp message from her colleague who wanted to know how her interview went today. She typed out a hasty reply, “Went well. They liked my resume, my work in court and published articles. May call…”. In truth, they liked her so much that inspite of her lack of work-ex, they told her they would love to have her work for the firm. Still they needed to give the other applicants a fair shot. She was fine with that. She was fine with everything, just not Kirat not calling her.
Should I call him? Irrational Trishna mused.
No! That would smack of desperation. Rational Trishna threatened. Get a grip on yourself, Trish. You vowed never to date an artist. You don’t need another Jaideep Paul in your life.
She sighed heavily. He was perfect, Kirat was. He had the right amount of old-world modesty and contemporary chutzpah. He wasn’t afraid to go for what he wanted, but once he had it, he would cherish and nurture it, she could tell. He wasn’t loud and he wasn’t too soft spoken. He wasn’t pushy, yet he wasn’t a a pushover. He had style, he had grace and taste, but he wasn’t vain. And best of all, he looked at her like she was the only person in the room. Yes, he was perfect. And that was the problem. That and the fact that he was an artist. Had he been a little less or a little more perfect than this, she could have nipped it in the bud. But as things stood now, she really did not know what to do with her heart that was free-falling for this man who was flawed in just one way.
Her phone beeped again and she dawdled to it, thinking it must be her colleague again. Oh, but praise the Lord! It was Kirat!! He had WhatsApped “Busy?”
“Nope…” She typed back in record time.
One second…Two seconds…Three seconds…Four...”Kora gaagaz tha yeh mann mera (My heart was a blank sheet till you came around)…” her phone cried. She picked it up and breathed into its mouthpiece,”Hi!”
“Hi!” He sounded happy and faraway. His voice was high pitched, different than his seductive tenor, and oddly reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t put her finger on who. There was also a lot of background noise, like he was surrounded by people. “I’ve been wanting to call you but things get busy around here. Sorry.”
“That’s okay. Why are you shouting?” Is he out having fun? Possibly with someone else? Her heart sank.
“I’m out drinking with some friends at a club. Sold off some pieces and received some commissions for new works too. They all wanted a party…” Without me? This was definitely a sign that they weren’t anything more than just friends.
“But I wanted to share the news with you too, so I called… How about we meet up for lunch on Saturday?” He asked eagerly. But she was dispirited by the fact that he hadn’t bothered to check with her if she wanted to join them in the celebration. Oh get over it! You guys have nothing between you yet. He has a life and friends of his own. Rational Trishna tried reasoning with her.
“Hello? Trishna, are you still there…”
“Yeah, I’m here. Sorry. Yes, lunch will be just fine. Where did you have in mind?”
“How about Grundy’s in South-Ex?” He shouted.
“Great! Love that place.” She lied. Burgers, fries and fizzy drinks were not her idea of a date-dinner or even date-lunch. Yet another depressing sign that they were friends.
“Great! I’ll see you at 12 then?”
“Great! I’ll have to hang up now. Honestly, I can only half-hear you in this noise. I’ll see you on Saturday then.”
“Okay, bye.” She nodded her head too.
“And Trishna…” he stalled.
“Nothing. Just wanted to say your name. Bye.” He sighed over the phone and hung up before she could respond to him.
Damn this guy for leaving me on tenterhooks! But she couldn’t help blushing at the same time. Ooooooo Saturday! Why won’t you come already?
She went to bed shortly thereafter. She needed as much time as possible to see him in the only place she could find him, till Saturday…her imagination.
The loud bang of a door rattled the window panes and broke her slumber. She woke up rubbing her eyes and squinted at her bedside clock – 2.30.
What the…This has to be that boor! She cursed silently. Mercifully, there were no accompanying sounds. Maybe it was a mistake on his part. She cuddled back in bed.
“Open the damn door, you brat!” A male voice she had never heard before screamed at Hairy Chest’s door followed by a heavy pounding on his door.
Hairy Chest shouted from within his apartment, “You better take your no good face away from here or I’m gonna bash it up into pulp!”
“Saale, you’re trying to threaten me? Don’t you fucking forget who I am, okay. I can set punks like you straight with just one flick of my finger.” The unknown man was drunk and so was Hairy Chest, she could make out, because both had wavering voices.
“Set your own goddamned keister straight then and get the fuck out of here!” Hairy Chest shouted back. She could make out he was furiously pacing the floor. But by now, she was so scared that her own knees were shaking and she was clutching the bed-post hard with hands that had gone white from the exertion.
“Abey, darwaaze ke peeche kya dubak ke baitha hai, saale. Saamne aa!” (Why are you hiding behind that door, you ass? Open up!) The unknown man pounded his door again.
Hairy Chest flung the door open, she could hear it, and then, “Ab bol, kya bolna hai tujhe? Teujhse kahan na yahan se phutt jaa nahin toh main tujhe peet dalunga!” (Now say what you wanna say. I told you I’ll bash you up if you don’t get the fuck out of here!)
“You’ll beat me up? You think you have the nerve to? Saale, I’ll show you what I can do…” This was followed by furious struggling sounds and grunting, and then Hairy Chest screamed, “Dooooont! There are women and aged people here…” before a gun shot split the air and her door cracked and something whistled past her ear.
Oh my God!!! Her knees buckled and she crumbled to the floor, and started hiccuping hysterically. Almost involuntarily, she scrambled under her bed and stared at the door. They were still fighting. She had to do something. Someone could get shot again. With shaky fingers she reached her bedside table and retrieved her phone. She had to grasp one hand with the other because her hands were shaking so much that she couldn’t dial the right number.
After the third attempt she dialed 100…No response. She cut the call immediately and tried dialing 108….Four rings and someone picked up. She didn’t even wait for the person on the other end to speak up.
“I’d like to report a shooting here…” CRACK! Another gun shot was accompanied by a blood-curdling howl right outside her door.
“Oh my Goooood! Someone’s been shot outside my door. Please HELP!! Pleaseeeeee….”
“Madame? Madame? Where are you calling from? Please calm down….”
But her ears were already abuzz and her mind couldn’t concentrate on anything. She knew it was coming…unconsciousness, those familiar feelings of nausea, disorientation and weakness. Feebly she managed to tell the operator nearly the full address and then, everything went black….
When she woke up her ears were ringing loudly and the light in the room was like pin-pricks in her eye-balls. She quickly shielded her eyes from the onslaught but there was someone urgently talking to her. She couldn’t concentrate on what the voice said. It sounded like Arindam, her friend from law-school. She tried looking at the source of the voice and yes, it was he. Poor, sweet Arindam! They must have found his number on my speed dial. He had concern etched on every line of his face.
“Are you okay now? How do you feel? Are you hurt somewhere?” He rattled question after question.
“Okay….not hurt…” was all she could manage. A paramedic and an officer approached her. The paramedic took her blood pressure and the officer asked her, “Ma’am are you the one who called 108?” She only nodded her head in response.
“Did you see the two fight?” She shook her head in dissent.
“Just heard them?” She nodded her head in assent.
“You might have to come to the station for an interview. Right now I’ll let you be.” He looked at Arindam, “You should take her away from here.” Arindam and the officer nodded at each other in assent.
She grabbed hold of the officer’s arm “Officer, what about…” she pointed towards Hairy Chest’s apartment.
“Lucky bastard! Got away with a flesh wound that’s being taken care of. Both of them have been arrested. I’m sorry but I can’t tell you more than that.”
Arindam whispered something to the paramedic and he nodded, then jabbed a syringe into her arm. She winced but was too powerless to bat her hand away. “Your blood pressure dipped. This should help with it, Ma’am. You’re just in shock, nothing else. Just rest and sleep it off. Keep hydrated and keep your movements slow. You should also see a doctor just to be safe.” He nodded at both her and Arindam, then walked away. The place was swarming with people – officers, paramedics, neighbours and onlookers.
“C’mon, I’ll get you away from here. You’re gonna stay at my place for a few days till things calm down here.”
“No, I can’t burden you…”
“Look Trish, Mom has explicitly told me not to let you be on your own and to get you home. Bashir uncle is out of town with Aunty. I talked to his house-keeper. I just can’t let you be alone here.”
She gave up. He half picked her all the way to his car, where she just slumped down in the backseat. She didn’t realise when sleep took over her, but the last thing she remembered was seeing brain matter splattered on a carpet and her father’s vacant eyes staring at her.
To be continued….
©Pradita Kapahi, 2016