Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The night that was ...

"I don’t want even to see your face ..." and the door closed on his face.

Those words from Priya were too harsh for him to take and Kannan was heartbroken. Silly household fights flare up when the fumes are given air by the words of those who should put it off. Misunderstandings, miscalculations and misinterpretations are all spinsters with a mis as a prefix, and with those in mind, we miss to live our life. Kannan got on his Enfield Bullet 350 and paused before he kicked it to life.

"Should I go home to Appa and Amma.... they don't deserve to be hurt with our silly fights" Kannan thought as he changed the gear and the bike moved away. He broke his ride and looked back whether Priya is there at the window. But she was not. The night time roads were as lonely as his heart. With a heavy heart he rode away from her house. As the street lights, some lit and some flickering moved past his as he moved forward his thoughts were running faster. 

"Enough... enough of this life" he thought to himself.

It was the same window which flashed in his mind... that night on Priya's birthday, when he had reached at the wee hours of night just to wish her a happy birthday, climbing the wall. He stood there then, watching her sleep in peace. Did not wake her but stood there looking at her. The same window where they used to stand together and wave at friends after the  
dinner gatherings. His heart was sinking like a rock in the sea and it hit the dumps of the bed.

In the meanwhile at home Amma was getting worried

"Kannan is not yet home, getting late, should I call Priya to find out" Amma asked Appa. But he was silent.

Appa kept looking at the door and was waiting to hear the calling bell eagerly. He was a person who would be in bed at 10 but it was almost midnight and still no sign of Kannan. He went to his room, took an address book and was searching for some number. He frantically kept looking page after page and finally got it.

"I will call Ram, he will would know or Kannan might be with him" Appa told Amma.

With eager, yet sad eyes appa looked at the clock as he waited for Ram to pick the call. 

"Good evening uncle..." came the reply from Ram
"Is Kannan with you... he has not called and not yet home" Appa said to Ram.
"I will check" said Ram and hung up.

Kannan drove up to a lodge near the railway station. "Central Lodge" he saw the board in front. The yellow board with faded red letters with a bulb that was more a veteran still serving the last few days in service. The dull light reflected his mood. The darkness around was his attitude towards his life. He entered the dim lit reception and saw a man sit on the chair behind it sleep. 

"Excuse me" called Kannan with a shiver in his voice.

The man jolted awake as if he was attacked by a ghost. 

"I need a room for one night" said Kannan.

Half in sleep, the man pushed the register in front of him and Kannan filled it up as if he was in a hurry. Yes. He was in a hurry to put an end to everything. The solution he had in his mind, was the decision many had taken at such junctures, to end his life. A shabbily dressed young boy led him to the room. He put his office bag on the wooden cot with dirty sheets  
and rock like pillow on one side of it. The smell of the laundry and the insecticide filled the room. The Lodge and the room seemed to be haunted or at least past living conditions, but still in use. Kannan was not in a mood to scrutinize the cleanliness or the condition of the room. All he had in mind was his last supper. He rang the once bright and yellow switch  
now darkened with dirt with a bell marked on it. 

A few minutes later the young boy was at the door "Sir... what do you want" he asked.
"Something to eat... vegetarian preferably" said Kannan
"Dosa and rasa vada" He asked

Kannan took the money from his shirt pocket and gave it to the boy. As Kannan sat thinking about the mistakes and worried which kept worrying him, the boy returned with a small red polythene bag with Dosa and vada from the street vendors, wrapped in newspaper. Kannan took the bag and the balance from the boy and was about to walk in to the room, when he stopped and turned to the boy who was still waiting there. He gave a 5 rupee note to him and smiled. A smile after hours of stress. The boy smiled back and took the money and ran happily through the dimly lit corridors of the lodge. The old clock on the walls of the corridor ticked loudly reminding Kannan of the little time left in his life. 

At home, Amma was getting more restless and was pestering Appa with questions for which he had no answer. His tired eyes were red with sleep, but couldn't get a wink of sleep. What was keeping Kannan so late and no calls from him yet, thought Appa.

The phone rang...

Amma picked the call and was silent. Appa could hear Priya shouting on the top of her voice on the other side of the call. Amma was not saying anything, but tears rolled down her eyes. The shouting continued for a while.

"I will talk to Kannan, everything will be alright" said Amma and kept the phone down. Appa and Amma exchanged glances and that said it all. Appa called Ram and informed him about the fight that was keeping Kannan away from home.

"Did he call you" asked Appa.
"No... but dont worry... I will find him" said Ram

Every moment of that night was taking long to move. The stillness of the night was just the opposite of the waves that lashed the old parents hearts. 

Kannan quickly finished the dosa even without knowing how it tasted. At that moment it tasted like saw dust pancakes sloshed with water. He left the newspaper and the polythene cover on the table and washed his hands in the wash basin on the corner which was attacked by rust and dirt alike. 

Kannan moved the left overs to a side and started writing on the writing pad he had in his office bag. 

Dear all ...
I say farewell to you all. Good bye. Have nothing more left in life. And I have nothing more to say ...

The page was as blank as his mind then. He folded the letter and was writing the address on it, intending to leave it with the reception. That was when the mobile rang ... Kannan was eager to see whether it was a call from Priya... but no. It was his friend Ram. Kannan left the mobile ringing, removing the ring he wore in his fingers and the chain from his neck with the
locket "K" and put it in the office bag. He removed the watch and looked at the time for one last time... The phone rang again... it was Ram.

"Hello ..." Kannan answered with all the reluctance he had then
"Da... I want to meet you now ... the project you had designed has been approved.... want to meet you now" Ram was excited and went on talking with no response from Kannan. After a while he stopped and asked 
"Da... are you okay... where are you... I will come"
"OK... I am in Central lodge room 103."
Ram hung up with a quizzical feeling. 

As time ticked forward, Kannan had made it up in his head that Ram would be the last person he would meet. Ram was trying to race against time, to reach out to Kannan and bring him back from the worried moments. Kannan was restless... thinking about all the happy and sad moments in life. He thought about his time with Appa, Amma, Thatha, Ammamma, Akka, Venki uncle, his school, college, the love, the passion, his art, and what not. Everything seemed to whiz past before his very own eyes. He heard a bike stop outside, breaking the silence and the sound of the crickets.

Kannan heard the knock and opened the door. It was Ram, smiling at his best. The tall, well built Ram with green eyes, was smiling like a child. His shirt was soiled but spirits high. His thick moustache gave him a beary feel, but he was breathing like a rabbit. 

"Come... it’s time to party..." Ram dragged him out of the room, "take whatever you want... or leave it..."
He dragged Kannan out of the room, who was being literally pulled and put on the bike. The kick on the starter and the adrenalin rush of the engine was all over the place tearing the silence away. Ram kept on talking while riding at his best speed possible. He screeched the bike to a halt and Kannan realized something he was not thinking of. Ram had stopped the bike in front of his own house, Appa and Amma were waiting at the gate.

"I knew it"... said Ram and smiled at Kannan. Kannan just walked in without even looking at Appa or Amma. Went to his room and dumped himself on the bed. It was almost morning and all night Appa and Amma were trying to find where Kannan had gone and what had happened to him. Ram shook hands with Appa and mounted his bike

"Bye Uncle... He will be fine ...Let him get some good sleep. I will come in the morning "

The moment was averted and life had much more happiness in store for Kannan, which he would have lost the previous night. Ram had gifted a life in those few moments. Time wiped the thoughts of the night, but the pain still remains in the hearts of three people - Appa, Amma and Kannan.

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