Grey infinite strip of road was sliding rapidly in the wind screen. Road was full of speed, sounds, smells, dust and lights..... all were running.... running.... even then everything was so lifeless and mechanical. Lady was gazing at road and it seemed her eyes are not even winking. Her face was almost like a stone, a stone which has eroded with the passing of time. But inside, in the barren land of her mind suddenly life came back, so many bubbles of thoughts were appearing and disappearing, memories were flying uncontrollably like pieces of paper, clouds of different colours started to wander. Human's tragedy is that they have memory, and really a powerful memory. A tool which has been developed to help has became greatest hindrance.
She remembered the first day when she saw him first time when her son Milind brought him with other friends. Real name Jay... but all used to call him Jaya. Initially she just gave a normal suggestion to be away from him. Her son smiled and she thought it is not something to be worried about. But one day when she came out by chance and saw that Milind and Jay are embraced, and kissing each others lips she almost felt a heart attack and ran inside. Her whole body started sweating and felt a deadly storm inside head. It was something she could not imagine.. his own son? Milind? Oh God...
Next day was full of bitter moments.... anger... heated discussions.... abuses... acidic arguments.. but result was nothing. Milind declared he can not live without Jay, Jay is his life and he can die but cannot leave Jay. It was like a volcano which devastated their life. They continued to live in same house but like strangers, who came, sleep and go.
Relations are most difficult thing in our life. We live for relations and we die for relation, we nurture relations and we kill relations. It is a puzzle which has no answer. A relationship which we look after desperately, nourish its every root so affectionately, and then we uproot it so brutally, and most of the time because of some ridiculous reasons. Amazing thing is that we all know that one day we are going to be separate, it is inevitable. Even then we are in such a hurry to be separate.
Car stopped and she felt a jerk, and jerk has broke the chain of thoughts. Building of hospital was in front, full of glass exteriors and brown white tiles. One can enter in this hospital with deficiency of vitamins but if you have deficiency of money you can not dare to enter. After the cold blooded murder of Government Hospitals growth of these hospitals was like clostridium perfringens (fastest growing bacteria).
Jay come out of car almost ran towards the corridors of hospital and disappeared in the crowd of the patient. She noticed when he was entering every pair of eyes going to here or there were looking at her. She also came out of car and stood near the bonnet. People were moving, some on their own legs, some on wooden legs and some on others legs. One young lady, aged around 32-34, wearing kurta and jeans, was sitting on the bench just near the front park, supporting her head on the back of bench, eyes towards sky and spots of dried tears from eyes to cheeks.
She saw Jay is coming back, two ward boys in white dress was with him carrying a stretcher. They took old man out of the car and gently put him on the stretcher and rushed inside.
"Aunty ji aap please idhar bench par baith jayo. Main abhi admit kara ke fir apko batata hoo (you please sit here, I get him admitted then tell you)", Jay uttered and accompanied the ward boys.
She almost dragged her towards the bench and sit very slowly near the lady looking at the sky as if she is something very sacred which might be affected even by a simple movement. Her eyes were still towards sky totally fixed and lifeless. Overall there was a depressed quietness except some occasional mixed human voices. When she sat for sometime again moving pictures, sounds, scenes started to come out of the black box of her memories. She picked up the dry leave of money plant from the bench and started to fold it. It was so fragile, tore very easily.
"Mummy, mughe US main job mil gayee hai (Mother, I have got a job in US)", Milind was saying something to her after so many days. Otherwise, sometimes they never talked even a single word for months.
"Kya?(What?)", she felt as if a very pointed nail like thing is entering just between her two breasts. She was not talking to him but the satisfaction that he is in front of her was not enough for to live. Now she felt that even last resort is going away from her.
"Meera inse poochho India main naukri nahi bachi kya? (Meera ask him is there no job in India)" his father interfered and in spite of bitterness in his voice there pity in it.
"Mummy mughe bahas nahi karni, bas mai ja raha hun aur do mahine baad agar aap ko call karunga agar aapko mere saath US ana ho to bata dena main sara intezam kara dunga (Mummy I don't want to argue, I am going and after one month I will call you and I you want to come US I will make all the arrangements)"
Meera was surprised, anger is apart but she was not feeling any touch of sorrow or emotions in his voice. She knew there is no use of any discussion because you can talk to a person who can hear, but if he is very far away even if you scream he is not going to listen. And sometimes physically we are so near, but mentally we are miles away. So she kept silent and after that this silence resided like a deadly parasite inside her permanently and all her efforts to throw this silence out went in vain.
"Aunty, uncle is very serious, intensive care unit may dalna hoga (need to be admitted in ICU)", Jay was was there, just close to her.
"....", Meera raised her eyes towards Jay, but no word come out of her mouth. She was not shocked, she was expecting it but she felt that the darkness residing her intensified a bit and like an octopus tightens its legs around her soul.
"Aunty, I wanted to come earlier... but...", Jay sat beside her.
After that they kept quiet, a quietness full of restlessness. No one was speaking but they were saying so many things. This kind of silence is more articulate that noise. The sat like this unmoved for more than half an hour. As if they are not there. But when suffocated scream of a female voice touched their ears they moved, lady sitting besides them started to cry. In fact not exactly a cry, but pouring out of pain. She was looking at the stretcher, of which few people were pushing towards her. With every jerk due to uneven brick floor, human size thing packed in white sheet, placed on stretcher was also moving. As the stretcher was coming near cry of lady was becoming louder, but even then it was suffocated as if she was striving to stop it from coming out.
Jay and Meera both were looking toward them. Suddenly, from an unknown intuitive move, Meera got closer to that lady whom she never met before and placed her hands on her shoulder. May be her pathetic soul was waiting from this and she burst into tears and her full, free cry flooded out as a dam had totally smashed and whole amount of might water flowed away. Two souls, no relations whatsoever, bound to be in each others arms in a moment of grief, were together.
When dead body and that lady departed from there, Meera noticed that side of her eyes were wet. She never drop a single tear for her husband before but today an unknown lady melted something frozen.
"Aunty ji maine hospital main paisa jama kara diya hai. Abhi hum ghar chalte hain, aaj raat aap hospital main ruk jayo kal main koi vyavashta kar dunga (Aunty ji I have deposited all the money in the hospital, tomorrow I will come again. Let us go to home, you bring your essential things and stay here tonight tomorrow I will arrange some body)", Jay said.
Meera never replied but she followed him immediately. Her mind was very confused. What is good, what is bad, what is wrong, what is right... all her thinking suddenly questioned and she felt that foundation on which she built whole structure of her thinking has shattered and all her thoughts are falling into pieces.
- X - X - X - X -
Jay stopped his car in basement parking of the the apartment, locked the car and went towards lift with holding his sari carefully. Reached his flat, insert the key into lock and open the door. Lights were on, it Sheena was already there.
"Jay....!!!", Sheena came to him almost running and hugged him tightly.
"Oh.. you are already here?", Jay kissed her forehead with an affectionate smile and closed the door.
"Yes I m here, no late shift today. Looking tired? Where have you been?" , Sheena jumped on the sofa.
"Today I admitted Milind's father to the hospital", Jay also sat on the sofa but in a tired manner.
"Milind???? You still remember him? He is really a son of bitch..", Sheen uttered in acidic voice.
"Please don't talk like this..."
"Why shouldn't I?", Sheena pulled sleeves of her yellow t-shirt up on her shoulder.
"Sheena, you know very well, I have a soft corner for Milind.... and I will always have", Jay looked at floor and some strange shades and colours appeared on his face.
"Soft Corner???", Sheena's laughter burst. She had to hold her stomach. "You still have shame to acknowledge that you used to love Milind.... and may be still you love him... even when that bastard has cheated you and married Jackline"
"Can't we talk something else", Jay raised his face. Her eyes, properly shaped with meticulous use of eye liner were wet.
"Ok.. Ok.. leave it...", Sheena apart her legs and lay down on sofa. She was just wearing a long t-shrt and panty only, not even shorts. Her greatest joy here was to be a woman, with all her femininity, liberty and entity without the fear of being with a man.
"Have you eaten?", Jay asked affectionately.
"Ya.. I have finished all your cheese and bread.. and emptied your juice canes...", an innocent smile came on the face of Sheena and her eyes moved towards Jay. Jay felt she is a small kid, innocent, pure and cute. He sat on the sofa near her head and kept her head in his lap and started fondling her hair. Sheena closed her eyes.
Jay looked at her, big eyes, sharp nose, somewhat protruding but symmetrical pink coloured lips, some reddish-brown spots on her cheeks, thin arms and shoulders but shapely breasts, thighs and rest of legs smooth and well maintained, no extra fat, no hair and smooth. Her slightly dark wheatish colour was giving her a earthen look. If one can feel her beauty she was utterly beautiful, otherwise normal.
Sheena was feeling that she was sitting in boat slowly flowing in a vast river, with no end.... water is peaceful, only mild waves.... soft breeze, and lot of lush green trees clearly visible on other bank. On one side golden-red sun is setting, gradually sliding down, sprinkling huge amount of gold on the water. Whole environment was so serene, having a mysterious intoxication. Suddenly water near the boat became so tumultuous, and a horrifying jaw of a deadly crocodile appeared on the water surface and then it raised and opened showing long set of sharp long teeth. Whole body of Sheena became cold and heart started palpitating and a loud scream chocked in her throat.
"What happened?", Jay held her shoulder.
"Oh... !!!", she opened her eyes and wrapped her arms around Jay.
"Again that nightmare of crocodile?", Jay hugged her so tightly.
"Yes..", she was still breathing heavily. Jay noticed her eyes are slightly widened and shadow of a deep rooted fear is present there.
"Don't worry... it was just a dream, I m here with you", Jay kissed her forehead and she hide her face in his chest. Jay knew very well about the wounds she had inside her but he was so helpless, he could not do anything except consoling her. But she is amazing, no wound can stop her from living and laughing. She still knew how to live like a small kid, innocent and playful even when you know how shallow and meaningless everything is. She had an inborn quality to squeeze out the last drop of life and joy from each moment of life in spite of all fears, nightmares and wounded memories of past.
Soon she became normal, regained her smile though little faded. She moved and sat, her big twinkling eyes started to lighten again. Jay felt her face like a canvass, where different colours, shades, tones and effects come and go rapidly. Sometimes gloomy colours, grey, black or dark blue and sometimes jubilant colours, orange, green, yellow... but colour of life never disappear from her face.
"Jay, would you eat something", she pulled her hair back and stood up.
"Ya.. prepare coffee and sandwich.. and fetch some cookies too", Jay rested his head on the back of sofa.
"Ok.. Sir... any other order", she bent like as if she is a knight and Jay is a king.
"For now enough.." Jay smiled.
Within fifteen minutes, Sheena was there with a tray having all the things Jay asked for.
"How is the coffee?", Sheena herself took a small sip of hot drink.
"Near about perfect!!! Sugar, coffee, milk.. everything is in proportion. And aroma, so nice.", Jay smell it and than took a sip.
"Jay butterfuly!!!!!", Sheena abruptly put her cup on the table and rushed towards the window. Jay saw a butterfly with tiger-like print on her wings entered into the room from the window. In this suburb area outside city, demon of development could not eat all the trees, shrubs and grass. Hence, one can still smell here the intoxicating fragrance of plants, rotten leaves and wet soil, especially just after the rain. And grasshopper still jump on the doors, butterflies still enter into the room without hesitation and in the night chirping of cricket can be heard.
"Butterfly!!! You know butterfly is also an endangered species.. this age is against the butterflies, this is age of viruses and bacteria. Daily new or mutated virus or bacteria come into existence, more deadly diseases, more resistant to antibiotics. Nobody wants butterflies now.", Jay was saying to Sheena but his words were more towards himself than Sheena.
"Butterfly... Butterfly.. you and I.. and You and I... let us fly.. let us fly... we will go high and high.. and disappear in sky", she was singing while catching the butterfly very carefully between her thumb and finger and started dancing with it. After some dancing and singing she went to window and let the butterfly sat on the branch of tree but in stead of sitting butterfly fly away spreading fer colourful wings. She plucked some leaves from the branch of Ashoka tree peeping in the room.
Jay finished his cup and placed on the glass table. Sheena again sat on the sofa and picked up one biscuit and bit with her small teeth.
"I think I must go to bath after some time.", Jay stood up and walked along the room. On one side of the room his canvass fixed near an almirah in which lot of files, paper and books were placed. Canvass had a half drawn sketch of a lady with evening gown was eagerly waiting to be finished. Near a table was full of small pieces of clothes and coloured print-outs.
"Sheena, what do you think, I am going to select Jasiya for this gown. I must give this a sexy look of sober one?", Jay picked up the pencil and pressed it between his teeth.
"Jasiya and sexy???? Haaahaaaa....", she laughed loudly and rolled on sofa.
"Why she is not sexy?", Jay gazed at her.
"Her body is like dry raisin.. haaaa... somehow she is managing her breasts and hips after sometime they will also disappear... haaaa", her laughter was still unstoppable.
"You are limit...hhhaaaa.. you know how she is working out for this body", Jay smiled.
"Jay, isn't a kind of rape? Either shape your body according to eccentric values otherwise get out!!! It reminds me of old Chinese era when feet of women almost broken to fit into the small shoes"
"May be you are right...."
"Sheena is always correct... haaaa"
"Ok.. now I leave for bathroom." Jay moved towards attached bathroom.
He entered into bathroom, undressed him and started the shower. Small drops of cool water first touched his head, then moved towards ears, shoulders, back, chest, stomach..... Whole body felt the cool wetness of water quenching the thirst of skin. He felt the flowing water on his maleness and sense of absence filled him. It is not me, I am something else. He got aware of his body and past overwhelmed him again. Embraces, kisses and touches of Milind still aroused sensation in his whole body. He never knew Milind was just playing with him, just for a change, he had no feeling for him. Jay's tears came out of eyes and mingled with the flowing water. From body to soul, he was wet.
"Jay your eyes are swollen?? What happened???", as he come out of bathroom, Sheena hold his arm.
"Oh.. may be soap has entered into eyes..", Jay used his full smile.
"Haaa.. I am not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you....", Sheena smiled.
"Nietzsche!!!!", Jay smiled again but this time it was not artificial.
"Yessss!!!", she walked across the room a like a ballerina and reached to another corner and opened the glass door of a cabin. Bottles of many shapes and designs were there. She fetched two glasses from kitchen and poured vodka in the glasses, her favourite Smirnoff.
After few minutes they were sitting in front of each other on sofa. Jays's eyes were stuck on the pages of vogue and Sheena was staring in her glass.