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Outside a village somewhere in North India:
Day 0 – Around 9 pm:
Slowly moving rays of light, emitting probably from the headlight of a tractor disturbed the work. The tractor came too close, then as if on a cue it changed its path and left. It was getting cooler with time and the light also brought the realisation that the patches of mist were developing and slowly the night would become foggy. The sound of the hoe hitting the ground must be reaching miles away.
The digging continued unfazed except for another interruption when a stray dog, perhaps in search of a warm place, followed the sound. It came, barked a little, then as if it could realise that it was watching the aftermath of a battle for survival, it started trudging towards the digger but it stopped again. Perhaps, it was distracted by an unknown smell wafting in the air. The smell was of human blood. The patches of blood spattered across the ground were shining in the moonlight. At a distance a corpse was lying in a pool of blood with its half-slit throat.
3 Hours back, in the same place:
“Watching the sunset from this place is such an amazing experience. I mean, I can give anything for a view like this.” Sitting on a rock with her head resting on Tarun’s shoulder and watching the dimming sun with childlike curiosity, Payal said with a smile. “After we go back to the city, where will we get to watch such a scene?” The smile suddenly vanished.
“Don’t you like the city life?” Tarun asked after nodding to whatever Payal said.
“I don’t know… but I think… I don’t dislike this place either.” The smile was back on Payal’s face.
“What is that you like here?”
“There is a sense of freedom here. I don’t feel like I am a hostage inside the rubbles of depleting human nobility surrounded by insane concrete structures.” She paused, raised her head from his shoulder, looked into his eyes and continued. “And can’t you smell romance … Love in the Air.”
On her face, a few stray strands of hair were playing with the cold wind. He pushed them behind her ear. She kept her index finger on his forehead and started rolling it down. He kissed it softly when it reached his lips. He started pulling her face towards him. Suddenly she started laughing and pulled his ear. “Not so easily mister.” She giggled, raised herself from the rock and started running.
“You… I won’t leave you today.” He giggled and started running behind her.
|Credits Image - Love in the air by Anand Courtesy - Apple Blossom's Photography|
After sometime, perhaps when the thrust of blood rushing inside their veins became uncontrollable, they partially broke their embrace. They looked into each other’s eyes and then he lifted her towards the sky. She spread her arms on both side as if to grab the pleasure emitting out of a romance unfolding in the horizon.
“This project will be over in next 15 days. Then?” Payal asked. They were sitting on the rock again. “How frequently do you think we will be meeting?”
“What made you think that I will be leaving you at all?” Tarun said with a strange expression on his face.
“Means?” Payal tried to decipher the expression on his face and asked.
“Means…” He smiled. “You will always remain with me. Nobody can take you away from me.”
“What… How?” Payal asked in confusion. The strange expression was still adorning Tarun’s face. “Isn’t this too early for this statement?”
“I have never left those whom I love.” Tarun said with a cunning smile, as if ignoring whatever Payal said. His eyes were slowly turning red. “Life is very short, you know… Yet there are so many options… Many options! Right!” He paused. The smile was gone. His lips were shaking. He crushed his teeth and stood up. He took two steps forward and stopped. Payal was watching all this with a strange calmness on her face, as if the confusion inside had risen to such a level that it had made her expressionless. He stretched his hands apart and continued. “Love is in the air? Really?... Do women actually understand the meaning of Love? Do they?” He turned towards Payal, shook his head slightly and asked. “Do you understand the meaning?”
“Well! I don’t know what you are trying to say. I don’t think I have to answer or justify anything here… Why?” Payal said after a moment of silence. He was not watching her. It was as if he was not even listening to her until she spoke the last statement. “I mean have I ever committed….”
“Commitment?” Tarun shouted. Payal’s last few words faded away. “Commitment.” He was shaking with anger. “She had also made commitments… You women… Commitment is just a word for you.” He was still shouting but his voice had been brittle. “I loved her so much. Chetna, I loved you so much… Chetna!” He closed his eyes. A lonely teardrop rolled down from his cheek. When he opened his eyes, it was completely red as if blood would ooze out any time. He finally concluded with complete firmness in his voice. “You paid the price, but that is not sufficient, I want all women to repent for your betrayal. This is my revenge.” He turned towards Payal. A sharp knife swung in the air and slit the throat. It was the revenge.
Four months back, somewhere in Delhi:
‘Chain se sona hai toh jag jao.’ A bearded man rather as weird man, at times having ample resemblance with the criminals he telecast on the show, was yelling inside the television. Tarun never missed this show in last three years. Did he like the show? No, but he never missed it because he knew that one day he would be there in that show. It was that day. The man was threatening the viewers that a serial killer had been killing women in the age group between 21 to 25 years in and around Delhi. Till date five dead bodies have been recovered where the murder pattern is same, throat slitted with a sharp object. Tarun smiled when he said that police has no clue for the murderer, not even a photograph or a sketch. The smile turned into laughter when the man warned women to be careful of this man. ‘Do women in village watch this show? Or will they actually care for the warning?’ He thought and laughed again.
He opened an envelope, and read the letter inside it once again. It was a letter from an NGO called Santwana. He had once applied for a volunteer’s job and had almost forgotten about it when an email from the NGO a few days back surprised him. After he sent his confirmation, they sent this letter that said that he would be going to a village somewhere in eastern UP, which the NGO had adopted for development in next 6 months. A train ticket was also attached with the letter. He looked at the timing once again on the ticket. It was next day morning.
Tarun had a sound sleep that night. He had to struggle a bit with himself during those early hours in the morning and then with the traffic, to reach station just 5 minutes before the train was about to leave.
“You must be Tarun?” He was about to settle on his seat when a voice, as smooth as silk, asked for introduction. When he turned back, a hand was stretched in front of him, and the silky voice continued, “Hi, am Payal. Team Leader.” He looked at her lips for some time then his eyes fell on her throat. His eyes sparkled.
Day 1: In the same village in North India
He is so cute. Today we went to watch My Name is Khan. Amrita and Shikhar were also there with us. You should have seen his face when Kajol asks SRK to go out of her life. He didn’t even smile after that scene. After the movie, he held my hand and asked me not to leave him ever. You should have seen his face. He is so cute.
Di, You know na that I am talking about Tarun. When are you coming here? I want you meet with him.
I think you are very busy, you didn’t reply my last mail as well. I will not write even a single word till I not receive your reply. I won’t even tell you the outcome of our plan, in which I will fake getting cosy with Shikhar so that he will feel a bit jealous. Amrita says, the love intensifies this way. Bullshit, I don’t agree but what is the harm in having fun. Even I want to test him.
With Lots of Love
It was her last communication. Payal read the mail twice before closing the mail box. Revenge, the word was flashing as the wallpaper. She changed the wallpaper and put a smiley in it.
(The story is a work of Fiction, any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.)