This is the first sequel to At a glance. If you haven’t read that, click here.
I hope you’ll give this a read.
I knew him
It was almost seven in the morning, when a mixture of anxiety, fear and wrath pushed me into a state of petrifying bafflement about what had really happened at Belle’ Pepper. Who could it be? Who could have done such an awfully hideous thing? My mind pointed towards Tanish, who was capable of committing such a ghastly crime and had every reason to wreak vengeance on me. However, there was a voice speaking to my puzzled mind that it could not be him.
“How are you?” my mother asked with a visage that reflected her consternation.
“I do not know. But, what happened at Belle’ Pepper?” I said and endeavoured to get up, but, a rush of anguish refrained me from doing so.
“You’re suffering from Visual Hallucinations again,” she stated.
“Ma, how can I fantasize everything? Someone pinned me against a tiled wall, and hit my head with something sturdy. How can I just imagine such atrocious, malevolent situations in my head and then get these wounds for real?” I was too replete of rage to say anything serenely.
“I am not sure about this. Your doctor said that either you have hallucinated everything and hit yourself, or someone exceedingly homicidal had something to do with you. Please, stay at home, dear.”
“No, Ma. I cannot stay at home right now. You know that this is the last year at school, and everyone will be parting away. I cannot afford to cease making memories for some lunatic. What happened at Belle’ Pepper after I was knocked out?”
“Your friends were worried and commenced looking for you in the restaurant, when you didn’t return from the washroom. A waiter saw you lying on the floor, unconscious. They took you to a nearby hospital, from where we got you home.”
“Were any suspects caught?”
“No. You were bleeding, and before getting hold of anyone, capable of such a crime, they took you to the hospital. Your doctor said that visual hallucinations could be a possibility.”
“I was not hallucinating. How many times do I have to say this to you? Okay, I got to go to Deesha’s place. I need to get ready,” I got up with my heavy head, and attempted walking.
I grabbed my lifeless phone from my desk and poured life into that inanimate being. No sooner did the black screen showed a picture of Jack Frost, than I called Deesha.
“How are you? Could you tell me what really happened at that washroom?” Deesha answered the call.
“He is nebulous. A masked man, with brown eyes full of fury, had to do something with me. He grabbed me, scared me with a glistening knife, and hit my head, which made me pass out. However, I think I know him. His breath and his eyes resemble someone. I do not know.”
“A masked man? Are you hallucinating again?”
“How could you say this, Deesha?”
“I apologize. It sounds incredulous. But, do you think, Tanish could have asked someone to scare you?”
“I thought that it was Tanish, but then I recalled that he has green eyes. This could be a possibility that he bribed someone. I cannot believe that he would do such a thing because I could not stay in a relationship with him. What would have I done? I could not pretend anymore to be blissful with him. I didn’t want to see him melancholy and distressed and that’s the only reason why I had stayed with him for a while.”
“I know, Rea. It is okay and you didn’t do anything wrong. Being gleeful is not wrong. Stop chewing the cud and take care.”
“I am coming to your place at ten. Everyone’s still in the plan, aren’t they?”
“We had already decided that either everyone one of us will go or we’ll just let it be. Rea, you cannot come. We cannot imperil you and there is a ninety percent chance that the ghastly person is tracing you.”
“Since when did you start being omniscient? Am I this onerous?”
“You’re misconstruing me. That nefarious person can do anything.”
“I am coming. Inform the others, please.”
I tried to think who it was. I closed my eyes and recollected his breath that had mingled with mine. I could perceive that hideous mask again, and attempted to envision his face under it. Instantaneously, some moments, which I had loathed the most, flashed in front of my glittering eyes. I was standing at the corner of an unknown parking lot, where the dim lights made the atmosphere eerie, and a freezing wind ran a shiver down my spine. My hair was messy and tied into a ponytail, and my pale face reflected no expression. A tall, lackadaisical boy of almost my age, who seemed to be exhausted, was trying to plead with me.
“Rea, I am irrevocably in love with you. You are quite aware of this indisputable fact. How could you be this awfully ruthless?” his frown seemed to be deeper than ever.
“I know, what I have done, is disbelieving. However, I could not pretend to be gleeful with you, anymore. For the sake of your bliss and sanity, I couldn’t afford to say a ‘no’ to you,” I kept my vision stuck to the ground.
“But, you love me. I know that,” his eyes were replete of rage.
“How can I expound this to you?” I had nothing more to say.
In a trice, I fell on the ground, barking my knees. I could not fathom what had just happened. My cold palm could feel the heat in my rosy cheeks that had been clouted mercilessly. For an instant, I was too petrified to be able to move. My mind had lost the potential to deal with what had come about. This unintelligible situation made me utterly crestfallen. An air of despondency filled the lugubrious ambience with wrath, misery and something unknown.
“I didn’t mean to slap you. I am so remorseful for what I have done,” he said while trying to get me up.
My mind still refused to accept this indiscernible scenario, “Just go away. Please.”
His eyes were glittering with those warm tears that longed to roll down his cheeks. Although I yearned to say something, my mouth declined to utter any word of love.
“What happened, Rea?” my mother gave a shake to my arm.
“Why? Nothing is wrong,” I replied.
“Then, why were you staring at the cupboard with your eyes wide open, and a deep frown on your small forehead, and sweating vigorously?” she asked.
I gazed at her blankly, as I didn’t have any answer to her question.
“Are you having some hallucinations?” she enquired, anxiously.
“No, Ma. Why are you doing this? How can you surmise this with such ease?” I answered, furiously.
I left the room and slammed the door which caused a horrible din. I shut my eyes and made up my mind, not to think about anything that filled this jubilant and auspicious atmosphere with distress. It was almost nine, when I washed my slothful body with the warm geyser water and a body lotion that had a soothing fragrance. As the sharp water drops hit my back, I recalled that day, when I was traumatized for the second time. However, I forced any kind of such thoughts out of my cerebrum, wore my bathrobe, and went to my wardrobe to choose some clothes to wear. Although I had decided what to wear on Panchami, I could not pick one. It was harder than I had thought it to be, to keep all those negative vibes away from me.
“Take care, please. If you feel sick at any instant, just call me. I’ll be right there,” my mother said as she kissed my forehead.
“I will,” this was all I could say.
The mellifluous sound of the Dhak erased every single memory that had pinched the thin skin of my heart. The smell of Pujo that spreads bliss, took me to an enigmatic place where nothing lasts but mere merriment and love. Out of the blue, Pujo changed everything with its simplicity.
“You’re so obdurate, Rea. I loathe you for being such a headstrong, outrageous teenager,” Deesha opened the door.
“Let me in, please, and stop being irksome.”
“If that lunatic comes here too? What will you do then? You have gone through a lot. I cannot let anything more happen to you. You look listless and pallid too” Deesha said in a low voice.
“Deesha, dear! Nothing will happen to me, ever,” I hugged her tight.
Going to her room, I saw Rachita and Prerona waiting impatiently for the others to arrive.
“Who was that pusillanimous monster?” Prerona dashed towards me to give me a hug.
“I still cannot figure out who it was,” Rachita said and kissed my cheek.
“I am totally fine. That is why I am here,” I smiled.
In no time, Saurnali and Sukarna arrived and we were off to the pandals of North Kolkata. Kumartuli Park, Ahiritala Sarbojonin Durgothshob, Telengana Sarbojonin Durgothshob, Dum Dum Park, Lake Town Adhibashi Brinda, Maniktala Chaltabagan, Ekdaliya club, Shinghi Park were on our list. The different, out of the box, brilliant themes always astounded me. Durga Ma was again successful in beguiling me with her pristine beauty and bewitching competence. The streets became full of so many exuberant people dressed in their new, splendid clothes. Durga Pujo brings everyone together, that in no way, any other occasion can do.
Rachita and Prerona were again ravenous, even after devouring two tacos, and a pizza.
“Did you seriously digest that lot, this fast?” I asked, laughing.
“You know about our supernatural powers,” Prerona laughed.
We went down the street from one pandal, to get into our car. While we were singing some obtuse Bollywood songs, and laughing to tears, watching Rachita’s steps to those tunes, I saw something. I saw someone.
I didn’t know if I was hallucinating, however, I saw him again. It was him. At a moment, I could see his masked face, and then all of a sudden, it vanished in the crowd. I rubbed my eyes, blinked twice and pinched myself in order to be sure that I was wide awake.
“What happened? Why do you look so doleful?” Rachita asked.
“I am okay. It’s just that I think I saw him again and that made me dolorous,” I replied with my eyes still scanning the crowd.
I turned round, squeezed my eyes to see the remotest I could. But he was nowhere to be seen, anymore.
“I think, we should head home, now,” Deesha suggested.
“Okay, I am calling the driver,” Sukarna said.
As we stood at the side of the road, waiting for our car to arrive, Sukarna and Saurnali went to get a bottle of water. While I was checking Whatsapp, I got a message from an unknown number, “Look up.”
My heart was pounding so fast, that it almost got spilled out of my mouth. Was it him? I yearned to know who he was. No sooner did I get the message, than I looked up to see no one. There were some college boys chattering, standing on the other side of the road. My eyes, which were craving to see him, scanned the road again. As I was turning my head from this side to that looking for him, the masked face appeared just in front of me on that side of the road, behind the group of boys. He was standing motionless, and I thought that this was the best opportunity to get hold of him. I didn’t know that the signal had turned red when I commenced crossing the road. I was walking fast, and my eyes were so stuck to his, that I didn’t see two cars speeding towards me. I could hear Deesha and the others screaming out my name thunderously. I had almost crossed the road, when my Adrenaline secretion didn’t help me cross the other one fourth of the road.
Hardly did I see those cars, when I stood immobile, with my fists clenched tight. It seemed like someone or something had fettered me into chains, and enervated my ability to act. A sudden screeching sound made me cover my ears with both of my hands. I didn’t know that Saurnali, who had rushed across the road, was right behind me, hugging my shoulders. I was gasping hard, when I saw that the car had not hit me by almost an inch. The one driving the car, who had earlier seemed to be placid, got out of the car, wrathfully, and said, “Are you blind? What would have happened if I had not pushed the breaks?”
I cleared my throat twice, before I could say anything.
“I am sorry,” I said while I was too busy looking for him on that side.
He had disappeared, then, as I had conjectured.
When we got into our car, Deesha screamed at me, “Are you crazy, Rea? You’re still so puerile!”
“I saw him again. What else could have I done? Why are you exacerbating this? And, you’re still so pugnacious,” I shouted.
“Crossing the road without looking at the signal? Wasn’t that expedient?”
“That was my fault. But, that was my only chance at knowing who he is.”
“It does not justify you risking your own life.”
“Okay, slay me, now. And, you don’t have to say anything to my mother. She’ll fuss about this.”
Darkness had enveloped the city, when we were on our way back home. The ecstatic city was adorned with brilliant, vibrant lights that filled everyone with exhilaration and vitality. The roads seemed to be more crowded at night, and the pandals had already allured much people to form unending lines, the ends of which couldn’t be discovered. This enticement had always shackled me into chains of entrancement. A sudden flash of memories merely destructed this intoxicating ambience and attempted its best to inject me with tribulation and venom.
Hardly did I reach home, when I hastily got out of the car and mounted up the stairs. As one sweat drop hit the ground with a high velocity, I caught a glimpse of him on the window pane. He was standing right across the road, in front of my house. I skipped a beat, when I gathered myself and realized that he had followed me all the way to my house and could break into it, at anytime he wished to. He could do anything. I was breathing heavily and he kept a steady stare at me. My mind had ceased working when I beheld him again, in the midst of this pandemonium, and I could not take my eyes away from his masked face. It was gawky and made me think of him doing ignominious things, more gullible. His imperious and presumptuous deportment proclaimed an imminent, repulsive doing that perturbed my tranquility. Something about him was inscrutable which elevated my inquisitiveness to an inexplicable level, that couldn’t be touched. I wanted to know who he was and what he had to do with me. I still knew that I knew him. My dried up lips had the ardour to shout thunderously, asking him who he was. Regrettably, I was again stuck to the ground, dormant. I sensed him smirking at me, under his mask and walked away. Clearing my throat, I turned round to ring the bell.
“How was the day?” my father asked.
“It was bewildering. North Kolkata gives a good competition to the South,” I said in my euphoria.
“I am glad that it was,” he answered, smiling.
“We won’t be going out this night. We thought to stay home. Is it okay with you, Rea?” my mother shouted from the kitchen.
“But we do pandal hopping every Choturthi, Panchami and Shoshti. Choturthi was ruined. What are you rebuking me for? Please, don’t take away Panchami too,” I pleaded with her.
“It is not my reprehension for you. We will do so, but not today. Tomorrow, we’ll be out for the whole night, okay?” she said.
“Okay, whatever,” I trudged to my room.
No sooner did I do so, than I let myself collapse on the bed, thinking if he knew that we were not going out today. My mind declined to accept that he knew about this and that was why, he had walked away. Maybe, if he had known that my family was going out and I wasn’t, he would have stayed to haunt me. These excruciating thoughts raised my level of repugnance for that ugly person.
“Have you reached home safe?” Saurnali called.
“Yes, I have. You girls think about me so much and that is the only reason, you all are the most precious to me, and a life without you is unimaginable and harrowing,” I answered.
TO BE CONTINUED..
Have a great life.
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